No. 7 Texas Escapes No. 9 Aggies at Big 12 Relays

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LAWRENCE, KS -- The ninth-ranked Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team dropped a tight 102-98 decision to No. 7 Texas at the Big 12 Relays at Robinson Natatorium on Friday.

Both the Aggies and Longhorns won eight of the meet’s 16 races with each team’s diving unit finishing one spot ahead of the other in the two springboard events. Texas earned second place in seven of the eight races it failed to win while taking third in the other. The Aggies also finished second in seven relays with the one exception being a disqualification in the 3 x 500-yard freestyle relay. Host Kansas and No. 18 Missouri tied for third place with 62 points while Iowa State was fifth with 42 and Nebraska sixth with 28.

“I was very proud of the girls and how they raced,” A&M head coach Steve Bultman said. “It’s never fun to lose but they stepped up and got after it. I couldn’t have asked for any more out of them. There were several fun, close races that brought out the best in swimmers from both teams.”

The Aggies were led by senior Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia) who was a perfect 6-0 on the day. Aljand finishes her Big 12 Relays career a perfect 24-0, having swam the maximum number of races allowed over her four year collegiate career.

“That’s an amazing feat. I had no idea,” Bultman said. “She loves to sprint and she can do all four strokes well. Other than breaststroke, she has swum the other three strokes at this meet and has done them very well. She’s been a very important part of our relays for several years.”

Aljand swam the backstroke leg on the winning 4 x 25 medley relay to begin the meet. The group of Aljand, Renee Iserman (Spring), Lauren Clifford (Pollock Pines, Calif.), and Sarah Woods (Birmingham, Ala.) hit the wall ahead of Texas in 48.44. Aljand closed the morning session by teaming with Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla), Clifford, and Woods to swim the second fastest time in Robinson Natatorium history for first in the 200-yard medley relay (1:43.47).

To begin the afternoon session, Aljand anchored the winning 200-yard freestyle relay team of Marissa Jasek (San Antonio), Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.), Sarah Woods, and herself in 22.46 as the team finished first in 1:32.81. The group eclipsed the old pool record of 1:33.83 set by Nebraska in 1991 as well.

Four events later, Aljand anchored the 3 x 50-yard butterfly relay (Lauren Clifford, Ella Doerge) in 23.58 to earn a come-from-behind win over Texas in 1:15.27. She continued her anchoring duties on the 3 x 50-yard backstroke relay with a 24.36 split as she, freshman Megan Latone (Austin), and sophomore Lindsey King (Beaverton, Ore.) finished first in 1:17.34. The 17-time All-American closed out her Big 12 Relays career by swimming third leg on the winning 4 x 25-yard relay. Marissa Jasek, Codie Hansen (Arlington), Aljand and Sarah Woods finished in the top spot in 43.55.

The Aggies cruised to an impressive win in the 4 x 100 IM relay. The group of senior Christine Marshall, junior Melissa Hain (Kingwood), sophomore Melanie Dodds (Maple Ridge, B.C.), and junior Alia Atkinson won by nearly seven seconds in 3:52.58.

A&M also took first place in the 3 x 50-yard breaststroke. Juniors Alia Atkinson and Renee Iserman, teamed with sophomore Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (San Antonio) to take top honors in 1:28.90.

The Aggies will return to action on Halloween night at 6:30 p.m. as they host No. 19 Penn State at the Student Rec Center Natatorium. The meet will be in conjunction with the men’s meet against the Nittany Lions and the program’s annual alumni reunion.

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