BATON ROUGE, La.- The fourth-ranked Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team defeated No. 19 Louisiana State, 178-119, on Saturday afternoon at a chilly LSU Natatorium.
The Aggies (7-1) captured 11 of the 16 events to grab its seventh straight win over LSU, including its fourth straight in Louisiana. Four different Aggies earned two wins apiece to pace A&M to its seventh dual meet win of the season.
“I thought we did a real good job of finishing our races today” A&M head coach Steve Bultman said. “LSU came out really ready to race today and I thought the girls responded well to that challenge. I had forgotten how cold the LSU Natatorium could be on an unseasonably cold day, but I thought both teams dealt with it well and raced hard.”
Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia) and Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.) continued their strong junior years by cranking out two wins each for the second week in a row.
Aljand came through at the end of a tight 50-yard freestyle race to win in 23.05 while coming from behind in the last 50 yards to win the 100 butterfly in 55.03.
Wilkinson won both the 100 free and 100 back despite having to play catch-up at the halfway point of both races. The four-time Big 12 Swimmer of the Week back-halved her way to wins in the two races in times of 50.17 and 54.91, respectively.
Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) kept her 2008 unbeaten streak in the breaststroke intact with a sweep of both races for the second straight week. Atkinson out-touched LSU’s Kannon Betzen at the wall, 1:03.59 to 1:03.62, for the 100 breast win while cruising to an easy win in the 200-yard event in 2:17.55.
Freshman Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (San Antonio) stepped to the forefront against the Tigers with two of the Aggies’ strongest performances of the day. Hurrell-Zitelman and junior Sally Ranzau (Alpharetta, Ga.) were a potent 1-2 punch for A&M in both distance events. The freshman captured the 500 free in 4:55.83, more than 10 seconds ahead of the closest Tiger while lapping a number of swimmers in the 1,000 free for a 13-plus second win (10:04.80).
Big 12 Swimmer of the Year Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.) got back on the winning track in the 200 back with a solid 2:00.65 effort. Sophomore Emily Neal (Plano), who finished second to Heiss in the 200 back (2:01.35), came back later in the meet to win the 400-yard individual medley in 4:22.21.
The Aggies fended off LSU in the first race of the day, the 200-yard medley relay. The group of Wilkinson, Atkinson, Aljand, and Sarah Woods (Birmingham, Ala.) hit the wall ahead of LSU in 1:42.88.
The Aggies will be back in action on Friday, Feb. 1 when they host the University of Houston on Senior Day at the Student Rec Center Natatorium. The following day, they will travel to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown.