Big 12 Champion Aggies Head to NCAA Championships
MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- The undefeated Big 12 champion Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team will end its best season in school history this weekend at the NCAA Championships.
The 2006-07 season has been a season of many firsts for the women’s program. Some of the more prominent accomplishments have been:
-First conference championship
-First undefeated dual meet season
-First sweep of state powers SMU and Texas.
-First sweep of all swimming events at the Big 12 Relays
-First time an Aggie will compete in every single swimming event at the NCAA Championships
-Highest dual meet ranking in school history
Despite the record-setting progress already achieved this season, the Aggies still have more goals left to conquer. A&M has never finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships.
“One of our goals is to get solidly within the top 10,” A&M head coach Steve Bultman said. “We want to swim faster than we did at conference. If we can do that, we should be very pleased with how things turn out once the meet is over on Saturday night.”
This weekend, the Aggies will bid adieu to a pair of seniors who will be ending their swimming careers.
Rebecca Sturdy (Anacortes, Wash.) arrived on campus like a lightning bolt, smashing numerous school records as a freshman. She earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Meet honors after winning both backstrokes, setting a conference record in the 200 back, and swimming on A&M’s first-ever Big 12 champion relay teams. After injury-plagued sophomore and junior seasons, Sturdy has come back to form as a senior, winning the Big 12 title in the 100 butterfly and swimming the fly leg on A&M’s first-ever medley relay conference champion quartet. She will swim the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly for A&M this weekend.
Meghan Nebera (Brentwood, Tenn.) has had a career year in her last hurrah wearing the maroon-and-white. Nebera broke the magical two-minute barrier for the first time in winning the 200 fly at the Art Adamson Invitational in November. That time proved more than good enough to earn a spot to her first-ever NCAA Championship meet. Nebera went on to finish third in her signature event at the Big 12 Championships, behind only all-time Big 12 record holder Katie Robinson of Texas and A&M school record holder Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.). Nebera also qualified for the Big 12 final in the 100 fly for the first time ever, finishing eighth in a career-best time of 56.35. Nebera will swim the 200 fly for A&M on Saturday.
The Aggies will bank on its relays to bring them a wealth of points in the team standings. All five of A&M’s relays rank between third and seventh nationally and all five achieved NCAA automatic qualification status for the first time ever.
In addition to Nebera and Sturdy, the following swimmers are scheduled to compete this week:
Freshman Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) 50 free, 100 breast, 200 breast
Sophomore Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia) 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly
Freshman Melissa Hain (Kingwood) 500 free, 400 IM, 1,650 free
Sophomore Codie Hansen (Arlington) 100 free, 200 free, 500 free
Sophomore Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.) 200 free, 500 free, 200 back
Junior Erin Mahoney (Wichita, Kan.) 200 free
Sophomore Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.) 200 IM, 200 free, 200 fly
Freshman Emily Neal (Plano) 100 back, 200 back, 400 IM
Junior Jenni Stratton (Portland, Ore.) 500 free, 400 IM, 1,650 free
Sophomore Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.) 200 IM, 100 back, 200 back
The NCAA Championships will be held at the University Aquatic Center on the University of Minnesota campus. Preliminaries will start at 11 a.m. each of the next three days with finals slated for 7 p.m.