NCAA Div. I Women: Arkansas Edges LSU -- November 11, 2000
FAYETTEVILLE, Nov. 11. SOPHOMORE Genny McNeill and the Arkansas swimming and diving team brought shovels to the meet against LSU Saturday at the
Arkansas Natatorium to symbolize their theme for the day, "Dig deep for success." Arkansas put together a team effort to defeat the Tigers 161-139.
With the victory, the Lady Razorbacks knotched their only win over LSU at home in Fayetteville in the 13-year rivalry between the two schools. Arkansas also broke an eight-season losing streak versus the Lady Tigers. The Lady Razorbacks' previous win against LSU was recorded in 1992.
"It's hard to highlight any one person without taking away from the team effort," Arkansas head coach Anne Goodman James said. "Every person stepped up and contributed, and we don't want to take away from the
individual winners, but it wasn't about that."
Natalia Kodajova and McNeill gave 100 percent toward that team effort, winning two events each, to pace the Lady Razorbacks to only their second SEC win since 1991-92. Kodajova dominated the 100 and 200-yard
breaststroke events, winning each event by more than three seconds. McNeill won the 100 and 200-yard butterfly and fought her way back into the 400-yard individual medley where she was just beaten by Lindsey Mooney of LSU by 0.17 seconds.
"Coming in we were so pumped," McNeill said. "We just focused on swimming hard and didn't focus on winning. Overall we wanted to win, but we just dug deep, and we did it."
The meet started off on a strong note for the Lady Razorbacks when they won the 400-yard medley relay with a team featuring Drue Orwig, Kodajova, McNeill, and Becky Ralph. Ralph produced an incredible split
time of 50.97 seconds in her 100 yards of that race.
"It helped us jumping out in that first event," Coach Goodman James said. "It fueled us for the rest of the meet. Any SEC win is really important for our program, and this is a big one."
Orwig, freshman, also picked up her fourth individual win of the season, as she captured the victory in the 100-yard backstroke.
"We went into the first event, the three-meter, knowing that we had to score a certain number of points, and we did better than what we expected " diving coach Brad Szurgot said. "We just have to learn to dive better under pressure, so this is good for us to prepare for conference."
"This was a tough loss for us today," said LSU head coach Jeff Cavana. "I have to give a lot of credit to Arkansas, they have improved tremendously, and today they just had too much depth for us in certain events."
The Lady Tigers fell to a 3-2 overall record on the season and an 0-2 mark in SEC play, while Arkansas improved to a 3-2 record on the season and stands at 1-0 versus conference opponents. Last week, the Lady Tigers lost their SEC-season opener to Alabama, 173-123, at home in Baton Rouge. LSU's two recent losses
versus Alabama and Arkansas represent the first two-meet losing streak versus conference opponents since the 1993 season.
"Losing two-meets in a row is always hard to take," Cavana said. "But in 1993 we did it, and ended up with one of our best rankings of all time. So, we just have to work hard, get this past us, and concentrate on the rest of the season."
In a losing effort, the Lady Tigers' Mandy Leach, Donna Leslie, Jaime Watkins, and Lindsey Mooney each won at least two events.
LSU's Leach was victorious in all three of her swimming events. She dominated the 50, 100, and 200-yard freestyle events. Leach recorded a time of 24.18 in the 50-free, a 51.49 in the 100-free, and a 1:50.65 in the 200-free.
Watkins, the Lady Tigers' NCAA one-meter diving champion, handily defeated her Arkansas counterparts in both the one and threeªmeter springboard events. She scored 278.10 in the three-meter and 321.83 in the one meter.
"We've been getting great production from our girls in the freestyle, diving, and backstroke events," said Cavana. "But our lack of depth in the other events is really hurting us right now. We need some other swimmers to step up and get us some points."
Mooney, the Lady Tigers' captain, placed first in the 200-yard backstroke and the 400-individual medley events. She won the 200 backstroke easily with a time of 2:09.26, but barely squeaked by Arkansas' Genny McNeill in the 400-IM. Mooney finished with a time of 4:31.66 and McNeill touched in right behind her at