Ag Women Repeat As Big XII Swim Champs

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AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team successfully defended its 2007 Big 12 Championship with a 967-748 win over the host Texas Longhorns on Saturday night at the Texas Swimming Center.

The Aggies were absolutely dominant from start to finish, winning 17 of 18 swimming events for the week including all five relays. Their final point total of 967 is a new school record for points at a conference meet as well as the fourth highest total by any team in Big 12 history. For his team’s amazing performance this week, A&M head coach Steve Bultman was named Big 12 Swimming Coach of the Meet for the sixth time in seven seasons, including the last five in a row.

“For so long we had to strive just to even get close to Texas but because of them it has helped us get to where we are today,” Bultman said. “We had some outstanding performances all the way through. I’m real proud of them for taking care of business here and swimming very, very well because a lot of them have an eye on NCAA’s as well. They know this is an important meet and they are excited about what happened this week but they know we have future goals ahead of us. That said, this was really a lot of fun.”

Junior Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.) was named Big 12 Swimmer of the Meet after becoming the first swimmer since 2001 to set three all-time conference records since former U.S. Olympian Colleen Lanne of Texas did so. Wilkinson won the 200 individual medley, 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle while swimming on four of the Aggies’ five Big 12 champion relays.

“Wow! What a meet!,” Bultman said. “Considering she is nowhere near fully rested, to go that fast -- she’s just really coming on. It’s an exciting time for her to be doing it because of NCAA’s, Canadian trials, and the Olympic year. She is definitely setting herself up for an exciting next few months, that’s for sure. She has completely taken her swimming to another level.”

Wilkinson saved her best individual performance for last with a collegiate-leading and all-time Big 12 record time of 47.80 in the 100 freestyle. She bested the school record of 48.14 she set at the Art Adamson Invitational in November. Wilkinson finished ahead of teammate Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia) who had been previously unbeaten for the week and set the all-time Big 12 record in the 100 fly a day earlier. Aljand swam the fastest 100 free of her life in earning the silver in 48.90. Sophomore Sarah Woods (Birmingham, Ala.) was sixth in the 100 free in 49.90 and was followed by teammates Codie Hansen (50.13) and Marissa Jasek (50.30), giving the Aggies five of the eight championship final spots in the race.

Freshman Melanie Dodds (Maple Ridge, B.C.) won a share of Big 12 Newcomer of the Meet honors along with Texas freshman Natalie Sacco. Dodds earned the bronze medal in the 200 butterfly in a lifetime best time of 2:01.25. She also earned fifth place in the 400 IM on Friday and sixth place in the 200 IM on Thursday.

Sophomore Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) continued her reign as the Big 12 breaststroke queen with her fourth title in four attempts by taking the 200 breast title in an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 2:11.77.

Junior Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.) won her first-ever Big 12 200 butterfly title in a school record and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:57.26.

Junior Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.) successfully defended her 2007 Big 12 title in the 200 backstroke with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:56.28. Sophomore teammate Emily Neal (Plano) came in right behind her with a lifetime best time of 1:56.53. Freshman transfer Lindsey King (Beaverton, Ore.) hit the wall in sixth in 2:00.24.

The Aggies completed their title defense and sweep of the five relays with a school record performance of 3:15.55 in the 400 freestyle relay. Sarah Woods, Triin Aljand, Codie Hansen, and Julia Wilkinson sealed the win for A&M on the final relay.

Senior Jenni Stratton (Portland) earned a silver medal in the 1,650 freestyle with a huge lifetime best of 16:21.55. Freshman Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (San Antonio) grabbed fourth in a lifetime best of 16:26.02 while sophomore Melissa Hain (Kingwood) was eighth in a season best of 16:51.06.

Sophomore diver Alex Tipple made her second diving championship final in three days, grabbing a seventh-place finish on the platform. Tipple dove her way to a score of 212.25, after scoring 206.75 during the afternoon preliminaries.

The Aggies that have not qualified for the NCAA Championships will conclude their season next weekend at the American Short Course Championships in Austin while the rest of the team will be training for the NCAA Championships scheduled for March 20-22 at Ohio State University.

200 Backstroke -- Finals

1. Kristen Heiss, 1:56.28$

2. Emily Neal, 1:56.53$

6. Lindsey King, 2:00.24*

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17. Ella Doerge, 1:59.60*

18. Sally Ranzau, 2:02.15

200 Backstroke -- Prelims

1. Kristen Heiss, 1:56.03$

2. Emily Neal, 1:57.94*

4. Ella Doerge, 1:59.74*

7. Lindsey King, 2:01.43

11. Sally Ranzau, 2:03.06

100 Freestyle -- Finals

1. Julia Wilkinson, 47.80$!#

2. Triin Aljand, 48.90$

6. Sarah Woods, 49.90*

7. Codie Hansen, 50.13*

8. Marissa Jasek, 50.30*

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13. Hannah Kinder, 51.26

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17. Maria Sommer, 50.91

100 Freestyle – Prelims

1. Julia Wilkinson, 48.87$

3. Triin Aljand, 49.67*

5. Codie Hansen, 49.73*

6. Sarah Woods, 49.94*

8. Marissa Jasek, 50.41*

11. Maria Sommer, 51.23

18. Hannah Kinder, 51.83

19. Megan Rains, 51.86

1,650 Freestyle

2. Jenni Stratton, 16:21.55$

4. Casey Hurrell-Zitelman, 16:26.02*

8. Melissa Hain, 16:51.06*

9. Beth McCullouh, 16:54.90

Exh. Sally Ranzau, 16:56.89

Exh. Sarah Froehlich, 17:21.48

200 Breaststroke – Finals

1. Alia Atkinson, 2:11.77$

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11. Chelsea Helgason, 2:19.29

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17. Caroline Maxvill, 2:17.38*

18. Brittany Lentz-Raiford, 2:19.03

19. Rebekah Love, 2:20.97

200 Breaststroke -- Prelims

1. Alia Atkinson, 2:12.51$

6. Caroline Maxvill, 2:19.04

7. Brittany Lentz-Raiford, 2:19.22

12. Chelsea Helgason, 2:20.40

15. Rebekah Love, 2:22.47

25. Renee Iserman, 2:28.43

200 Butterfly – Finals

1. Christine Marshall, 1:57.56$#

3. Melanie Dodds, 2:01.25

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17. Sarah Froehlich, 2:06.04

200 Butterfly -- Prelims

2. Christine Marshall, 1:59.90*

7. Melanie Dodds, 2:02.94

13. Sarah Froehlich, 2:05.65

17. Erin Mahoney, 2:07.07

Exh. Ella Doerge, 2:03.48

Exh. Melissa Hain, 2:05.14

Platform Diving

7. Alex Tipple, 212.25

10. Emily Watson, 188.90

400 Freestyle Relay

1. Sarah Woods, Triin Aljand, Codie Hansen, Julia Wilkinson, 3:15.55$#

$ - NCAA Automatic Qualifying Performance

* - NCAA Consideration Time

! – All-Time Big 12 Record

# - Texas A&M School Record




 
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