Relays Keep Aggies in No. 6 Spot at NCAA Championships

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- Thanks to a pair of school-record-best finishes in the 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays, the Texas A&M women’s swimming & diving team retained its No. 6 spot in the team standings at the NCAA Championships on Friday.

The all-sophomore 800-yard freestyle relay of Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.), Kristen Heiss (Casper, Wyo.), Codie Hansen (Arlington), and Christine Marshall (Newport News, Va.) finished fifth in 7:07.02, the second-fastest time in Texas A&M history. The fifth-place finish in the relay vaulted the Aggies ahead of Texas to grab back the No. 6 overall spot after the Longhorns had put 28 points up in three-meter diving one event earlier.

Entering the final day of competition, Arizona leads defending national champion Auburn, 375-343. California is in third with 261.5 followed by Stanford (250) and Georgia (195). Texas A&M leads Texas for the No. 6 spot, 167.5-156. A&M’s 167.5 points smashes the old school record for points at an NCAA Championship meet and the Aggies still have another full day to go. The old mark of 118 was set a year ago.

The Aggie 200-yard medley relay team of Triin Aljand (Tallinn, Estonia), Alia Atkinson (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Rebecca Sturdy (Anacortes, Wash.), and Christine Marshall finished sixth in the championship final in 1:38.97. The time ranks as the third-fastest in A&M history and allowed the Aggies to boost their team total by 26 points.

Big 12 Swimmer of the Meet Christine Marshall earned an eighth-place finish in the championship final of the 200-yard freestyle. Marshall hit the wall in 1:47.20 after earning her way into the final in a lifetime best of 1:46.26. In the consolation final, Kristen Heiss placed fifth in 1:46.59.

Big 12 Newcomer of the Meet Alia Atkinson grabbed first place in the consolation final of the 100-yard breaststroke. Atkinson duplicated her time of 1:00.87 swam during the morning session, defeating 2005 NCAA champion Caroline Bruce of Stanford in the process. Atkinson ends the year with but a single loss in the 100 breast, that coming during Friday’s prelims.

Freshman Melissa Hain (Kingwood) took fifth place in the 400-yard individual medley in her first-ever night swim at the NCAA Championships. Hain hit the wall in a time of 4:14.19, the third-fastest of her career, in the consolation final to score four points for the Aggies. Junior Jenni Stratton, also swimming in her first-ever night final, placed seventh in 4:16.52. Stratton set a lifetime-best of 4:14.66 during morning prelims.

Sophomore Triin Aljand finished eighth in the consolation final of the 100-yard butterfly in 54.44. Aljand qualified for the Friday night swim by going 53.45 during morning prelims.

The final day of action at the 2007 NCAA Championships will begin with preliminaries at 11 a.m. Finals are set to begin at 7 p.m. at the University Aquatic Center.