COLLEGE STATION—The Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team remains in seventh-place heading into the final day of action at the NCAA Championships at the Student Rec Center Natatorium.
A&M has earned a two-day total of 144 points, eight points ahead of Florida. California holds a 6.5-point lead over Georgia for the top spot while defending champion Arizona is third with 282.5 points. Stanford is fourth (213.5), followed by Auburn (195).
“(On being ranked seventh) That’s not bad at all,” A&M head coach Steve Bultman. “We’ve got to be ready to perform tomorrow. I don’t know what the other teams are doing. We just need to take care of ourselves and let the chips fall where they may. We can’t control what the other teams do. We’ve got some good events tomorrow but a lot of the other teams do as well. We just have to get up and race. Everybody’s going to be tired on the last day so you have to be tough and take care of business in the morning.”
The Aggies were once again bolstered by two impressive relay performances. A&M finished sixth in the 800-yard freestyle relay ahead of defending champion Arizona and national leader Auburn. The group of Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.), Melissa Hain (Kingwood), Codie Hansen (Arlington), and Marissa Jasek (San Antonio) finished sixth in 7:01.06, the third-fastest time in school history.
A&M’s 200-yard medley relay was also in fine form, racking up the two fastest performances in school history. The group of Megan Latone (Austin), Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Calif.), Triin Aljand (Tallin, Estonia), and Maria Sommer (Brenham) recorded a time of 1:37.67 during prelims, then improved to 1:37.27 during the championship final to finish in seventh-place.
Junior Alia Atkinson continued her impressive meet by taking home fifth-place in the 100-yard breaststroke. Atkinson went under one minute for the second and third time in her life, setting a new A&M school record each time. Atkinson qualified for the final after clocking a time of 59.69, then improved to 59.43 for the best NCAA 100 breast finish of her career.
“Everyone that I have spoken with says that I was somewhat with the leaders after the last pull-out so something happened in that last 12.5 into the wall but I’m glad with finishing fifth,” Atkinson said. “That’s an improvement over last year and it was a better time but I am looking forward to next year.”
U.S. Olympian Christine Marshall ended her 200-yard freestyle career with the Aggies by speeding to the fastest time of her collegiate career. Marshall won the consolation final of the 200-yard freestyle in 1:43.85, cutting nearly a full second off her prior career best time. Marshall, along with Alia Atkinson, has scored points in both of her individual events so far at the national meet.
“It’s well known that we lost Julia (Wilkinson) and Kristen (Heiss) so our motto all year long has been step up,” Atkinson said. “These girls have been giving their all and we’re having a great meet.”
The Aggies will get one final chance to step up on Saturday when their overall finish will be determined. Preliminaries will start at 11 a.m. with finals slated for 6 p.m.