Heiss, Wilkinson Sparkle At Art Adamson Invite

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The sixth-ranked Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team ended the three day Art Adamson Invitational with a bang by capturing first place at the Student Rec Center Natatorium on Sunday.

The Aggies cruised to a 1,561-1,145.5 win over No. 13 Michigan while No. 12 Southern Methodist was third with 841.5 points.

A&M’s final day was stamped by two truly remarkable individual performances. In the first race of the evening session, Big 12 Swimmer of the Year Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.) chopped a half-second off her already impressive lifetime-best in the 200-yard backstroke, recording a time of 1:53.49. Heiss’s time not only eclipsed the NCAA automatic qualifying standard by nearly four seconds but would have placed third at last season’s NCAA Championships as well.

One race later her roommate was not to be outdone. Junior Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.), who was white-hot on Saturday night, carried it to over to Sunday with a near full-second improvement on her lifetime best in the 100-yard freestyle. Wilkinson, already the A&M school record holder, roared past the field in a time of 48.14 to win the race by more than a full second. Her time was nearly a second-and-a-half faster than the automatic standard and would have placed fifth at last year’s NCAA meet.

The Aggies recorded a total of five NCAA automatic qualifying performances during the sixth and final session of the Adamson Invite. In addition to the remarkable races by Heiss and Wilkinson, sophomores Emily Neal (Plano) and Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) delivered top-notch efforts. Neal finished third in the 200 back in 1:56.96, the second-fastest time of her career, while Atkinson made it a sweep of both breaststrokes by taking the 200-yard race in 2:12.93, the fourth-fastest clocking in A&M history.

A&M closed the three-day meet with a near school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Junior Codie Hansen (Arlington) turned in a near lifetime best of 49.60 leading off the relay to boost A&M to a fast automatic qualifying time of 3:16.48. Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia), Wilkinson, and Marissa Jasek (San Antonio) hit the water after Hansen to record the second-fastest time in A&M history.

Aggies recording NCAA consideration times on Sunday evening were Aljand, 100 free, 9th, 49.70; Hansen, 100 free, 5th, 49.80; Jasek, 100 free, 8th, 50.74; sophomore Kasia Dulian (Raciborz, Poland), 200 breast, 4th, 2:17.13; and freshman Melanie Dodds, 200 fly, 3rd, 2:02.42. A&M’s ‘C’ 400 free relay team of Atkinson, senior Megan Rains (Puyallup, Wash.), Heiss, and senior Beth McCullough also recorded a ‘B’ qualifying standard of 3:23.70.

The Aggies will now spend much of the next month-and-a-half training and preparing for the championship season in early spring.