Southern sweeps Evansville in dual opener

    Juan Arbelaez swept the 50- and 100-yard freestyle to help the men to victory.

    Juan Arbelaez swept the 50- and 100-yard freestyle to help the men to victory.

    Oct. 13, 2012

    By John Lock

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    EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The Southern Illinois men's and women's swimming and diving teams swept Evansville today to start the regular season 1-0. The Salukis won 19 of the 26 races on the day. The women held on for a 124-119 victory while the men cruised to a 149-73 win.

    The Salukis had competed in the Saluki Miler and Open Water 5K, but this was the first competition of the year with a traditional format against a full opponent. The teams competed in a 13-event program with 200-yard strokes.

    The women started the meet out rough, dropping the 200-yard medley relay to Evansville by less than a half-second. But senior Kirsten Groome got the Salukis back on track with a dominating performance in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Groome won the event by more than 23 seconds over teammate Isabela Castro.

    Pamela Benitez cruised to a win in the 200-yard freestyle (1:54.05), while Luisa Silveira (24.59) and Holly Johnson (25.29) finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 50-yard freestyle. Hannah Pinion (2:11.38) and Charlotte Davies (2:11.67) took the top two spots in the 200-yard individual medley. Newcomer Sherry Zhang (288.56), Anna Beeck (229.21) and Brittany Weigel (221.93) took three of the top four spots in the one-meter dive.

    Isabela Castro won the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.63) by more than six seconds. Benitez won her second event of the day with a win in the 500-yard freestyle (5:01.30), with Groome (5:02.76) right behind. The women closed out the meet with a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Shailey Brumley led off, followed by Benitez, Rachael Barry and Carly Dvorak.

    "Today, I watched our girls rise to the occasion and win a meet that only a true team could win," head coach Rick Walker said. "Our divers closed the deal, and the swimmers set the stage with a back and forth battle. Evansville was very ready to take us down in their home pool, but our women were not having any of that. Good for them."

    The Saluki men won 12 of their 13 events, dropping only the 200-yard butterfly. Csaba Gercsak won the 1,000-yard freestyle by more than 10 seconds over teammate Caleb Coots. Gercsak also won the 500-yard freestyle (4:51.52). Newcomer Till Pallmann won the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.48) by a dominant seven seconds.

    Juan Arbelaez won the 50- (21.60) and 100-yard (47.35) freestyles, and Calvin Kolar won the 200-yard individual medley (1:56.89) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:09.15). Kegan Skelton swept the one- and three-meter dives. Another newcomer, Oleg Rabota, won the 200-yard backstroke (1:52.07) over Pallmann.

    "Our men have many new faces to watch as we try to figure out our true strengths," Walker said. "They came through again with a clearer sense of what we need to do for our upcoming challenges. I'm very proud of both the men and women."

    The Salukis are back in action in two weeks when the squad travels to Rolla, Mo., to take on Missouri S&T.