UU Smashes 20 School Records, Takes 7th at ASC
Helander, Miller and the men's 200 free relay team claim conference championships
BARBOURVILLE, Kentucky (February 18, 2012) – The Urbana University swim teams put the finishing touches on their record-breaking seasons at the Appalachian Swimming Conference Championships this weekend. Over Friday and Saturday, the Blue Knights smashed 19 school records on their way to a 7th place overall finish in the 14-team ASC. The men posted a program best 5th place finish, while the women also set a new mark with their 10th place spot. Wheeling Jesuit and Asbury finished one-two on both the men’s and women’s side to claim the conference championships and runner-up spots, respectively.
Urbana opened the championships with 5 school records on both the men’s and women’s sides. Four of Urbana’s Friday relay teams set new school records, led by the men’s 200 free relay. Swimmers Kim Helander, Alex Espinoza, Alex Parks and Paul Miller combined to capture the program’s first conference relay championship, swimming a school and conference-record 1:25.52 in the 200 free. Helander’s 50-yard leg time of 21.36 was fast enough to qualify him for the NCAA D-II B-cut in the 50 free. It’s the second time he’s met that qualification this season.
Helander and Miller were joined by teammates Matt Stover and Ryan Cochran in a record-setting 400 medley relay. The foursome finished in 4th place overall in a time of 3:35.79.
The Blue Knight women’s relay teams trimmed 3 and 8.5 seconds off school records in the 200 free and 400 medley relays. The team of Bethany McNutt, Heather Abdalla, Rachel Kelly and Breanne Schroeder swam a 1:47.83 to take 8th in the 200 free relay, and McNutt, Schroeder and Kelly were joined by Samantha Cowgill for a record-setting time of 4:31.55 in the 400 medley relay. The team took 9th place in the event.
Individually, Schroeder and McNutt combined for 3 more records on the women’s side, while Helander, Cochran and Stover set new marks for the men. Schroeder swam away with new school records in the 500 free (5:24.85) and 100 free (56.12). Her time in the 500 was 16 seconds better than the previous school record, earning her 6th place in the deep field. Cochran’s UU record came in the prelims of the 100 breast stroke, where he swam a 1:02.82. Stover improved his own school record in the 200 backstroke, touching in at 1:55.64 to claim second place and 17 points for the Blue Knights in the event.
The last school record fell in the 200 IM, where Helander captured his first, and the Blue Knight’s first, individual crown of the weekend. The freshman first set his new school mark during the prelims, swimming a 1:56.45. In the Friday night finals, he just missed that mark but still finished the race in 1:56.62 to stand alone atop the podium. Helander capped his dominance of the butterfly discipline on Saturday, taking the 100 fly championship in a B-cut, school and conference record 49.10. Espinoza finished 8th in the same event, touching in at 52.58.
In another notable Friday night performance, senior Paul Miller just missed out on his second career individual championship in the 100 free. Miller had to settle for a runner-up finish after swimming a blazing fast 47.22, but he would get his revenge in the 50 free on Saturday. Miller again swam an NCAA D-II B-cut qualifying 21.26 to take the individual title, going back-to-back in the event. Helander finished 4th in the race in a time of 21.57.
Miller and Helander were again joined by Parks and Espinoza in a runner-up finish in the 400 free relay. The foursome set their second school relay record of the night in a time of 3:09.47. The women's 400 free relay team of Schroeder, Cowgill, Kelly and McNutt broke the 4-minute barrier for the first time in school history, swimming a 3:57.46.
Also on Saturday, Stover swam to a 6th place finish in the 100 back, breaking his own school record in a time of 55.04. Two more women's records fell on Saturday as well. First, Kelly broke teammate Breanne Schroeder's school mark in the 50 free prelims. Then, Schroeder took 6th in the women's 200 free finals in a time of 2:00.11.
With their 10th place finish, the Urbana’s women team added on to their program record for wins. Their previous high was 6 wins, set last season under first-year Head Coach Dave Johnson. In Johnson’s second season, the women finished 14-18, more than doubling their previous high-water mark for wins.
The Blue Knight men earned the distinction of NCAA Division II Most Improved Program following a 12-10 finish last year. After their 5th place finish this weekend, Urbana ends its 4th season with a 19-10 record, easily crushing the program record for wins. Johnson was named the ASC Coach of the Year following the meet. Now, the Blue Knights will wait to see if Miller and Helander’s B-cut times are fast enough to qualify for the NCAA D-II Championships in Mansfield, Texas next month. [ASC Results]