Aggies Qualify Eight Entries For Friday Finals at NCAA Championships

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- The Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team earned eight spots in evening finals following Friday preliminaries at the NCAA Championships.

A&M’s top performance of the morning came in the 200-yard medley relay. The Aggies’ posted the fifth-fastest time in the field at 1:38.90 behind only Arizona, California, Auburn and Georgia. Texas, who actually beat the Aggies in the race at the Big 12 meet a few weeks ago, grabbed the eighth and final spot in the championship final in 1:39.28.

The A&M 800-yard freestyle relay ranks fourth in the nation entering the meet and will swim in the championship final tonight in heats-as-finals competition.

Big 12 Swimmer of the Year Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.) was the lone Aggie to qualify for the championship final in an individual event. Marshall, the Big 12 champion in the 200 freestyle, qualified eighth, beating out defending NCAA champion Kara Lynn Joyce of Georgia for the last spot. Marshall clocked a time of 1:46.26, a lifetime-best which is good enough for second in A&M history.

Five swimmers earned spots in Friday’s consolation finals. Big 12 400 IM champion Melissa Hain (Kingwood) qualified 10th in 4:13.28 while junior Jenni Stratton (Portland, Ore.) earned the first NCAA night swim of her career by finishing 11th in a lifetime-best of 4:14.66.

Two-time Big 12 breaststroke champion Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) missed qualifying for the championship final in the 100 breast by .03 after hitting the wall in 1:00.87. She will face off against 2005 champion Caroline Bruce of Stanford in the consolation race.

Sophomore Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.) qualified for her second night swim in as many days after posting a time of 1:46.59 in the 200-yard freestyle. Heiss ranked 12th overall.

Sophomore Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia) finished 15th in the 100-yard butterfly, qualifying for the consolation final in 53.45.

Friday’s finals will begin at 7 p.m. at the University Aquatic Center.