Florida International Gains Lead On Night Two of Conference USA Championships

Photo Courtesy: Alex Hernandez

Florida International continued their dominance of Conference USA by winning all of the pool events except for one on Thursday night of the 2017 championships from Atlanta.

The Golden Panthers got things started with Junior Kyna Pereira in the 500 free. Pereira took the lead early and did not relinquish it to finish at 4:47.45. She pulled along her freshman teammate Megan Bowen to second with a 4:49.52. Pereira had paid the price for a blistering first half but ended up holding on for the win. Bowen also had a bit of a race with Rice’s Hanna Huston as Bowen held off Huston who finished at 4:49.90 for third.

The only pool event that Florida International did not win was the 200 IM. Marshall freshman Catherine Bendziewicz had a stellar freestyle leg with a 28.34 split as the only swimmer under 29. Bendziewicz touched in 1:59.29 ahead of early leader Jaecey Parham of Rice at 1:59.92. It was a very tight race amongst the top four as Sarah Vaisse of North Texas was third at 2:00.01 and Carita Luukkanen of Florida International was third at 2:01.46. This was Marshall’s first win of the weekend and the first win from a swimmer or relay not from Florida International.

Event 4  Women 200 Yard IM
=========================================================================
  Meet Record: R 1:57.33  2/19/2015 Johanna Gustafsdottir, FIU
                 1:55.35  A NCAA Automatic
                 1:58.13  IV15 Invited to 2015 NCAA
                 2:01.59  B NCAA Consideration
    Name           Year School            Prelims     Finals       Points 
=========================================================================
                            === A - Final ===                            
 
  1 Bendziewicz, Ca  FR Marshall          2:00.42    1:59.29 B       20  
    r:+0.71  25.85        56.70 (30.85)
        1:30.95 (34.25)     1:59.29 (28.34)
  2 Parham, Jaecey   JR Rice              1:59.92    1:59.92 B       17  
    r:+0.65  25.70        55.23 (29.53)
        1:30.31 (35.08)     1:59.92 (29.61)
  3 Vaisse, Sarah    JR North Texas       2:02.40    2:00.01 B       16  
    r:+0.76  26.85        57.05 (30.20)
        1:30.73 (33.68)     2:00.01 (29.28)
  4 Luukkanen, Cari  FR FIU               2:02.46    2:01.46 B       15  
    r:+0.70  26.68        56.48 (29.80)
        1:30.69 (34.21)     2:01.46 (30.77)
  5 Sienczyk, Jowit  FR North Texas       2:02.68    2:02.30         14  
    r:+0.72  25.93        56.58 (30.65)
        1:32.87 (36.29)     2:02.30 (29.43)
  6 Wanner, Carolin  SO Marshall          2:03.20    2:02.31         13  
    r:+0.71  26.86        57.45 (30.59)
        1:33.15 (35.70)     2:02.31 (29.16)
  7 Swinney, Kaitly  JR Rice              2:03.29    2:03.05         12  
    r:+0.73  27.01        57.24 (30.23)
        1:34.09 (36.85)     2:03.05 (28.96)
  8 Schillinger, Ma  SO Rice              2:02.52    2:03.11         11  
    r:+0.64  26.48        58.85 (32.37)
        1:32.84 (33.99)     2:03.11 (30.27)

The Golden Panthers got back on track in the 50 free, but it was not who you’d expect at the top of the podium. Letizia Bertelli upset the defending champion and conference record holder Naomi Ruele with a 22.34. Marshall freshman Sirena Rowe finished second with a 22.47 and FIU senior Jenny Deist finished third at 22.60. Ruele was fourth at 22.63.

 Event 5  Women 50 Yard Freestyle
=========================================================================
  Meet Record: R 22.23  2/25/2016 Naomi Ruele, FIU
                 21.86  A NCAA Automatic
                 22.39  IV15 Invited to 2015 NCAA
                 22.99  B NCAA Consideration
    Name           Year School            Prelims     Finals       Points 
=========================================================================
                            === A - Final ===                            
 
  1 Bertelli, Letiz  JR FIU                 22.60      22.34 IV15    20  
         r:+0.68                       
  2 Rowe, Sirena     FR Marshall            22.31      22.47 B       17  
         r:+0.68                       
  3 Deist, Jenny     SR FIU                 22.63      22.60 B       16  
         r:+0.68                       
  4 Ruele, Naomi     SO FIU                 22.47      22.63 B       15  
         r:+0.68                       
  5 Mavrova, Gloriy  JR Marshall            23.04      22.74 B       14  
         r:+0.67                       
  6 Rhodes, Lauren   JR Rice                22.89      22.81 B       13  
         r:+0.69                       
  7 Nezelek, Kate    FR Rice                22.96      22.87 B       12  
         r:+0.74                       
  8 Alfani, Jenny    SR FIU                 22.93      23.14         11  
         r:+0.67

Florida International used that sprint depth to win the 200 free relay but they got all they could handle from Marshall in that relay. FIU won the race in a 1:29.68 just ahead of Marshall, who led through three legs, at 1:30.12. Rice was third at 1:30.83. Ruele (22.69), Bertelli (22.01), Jenny Alfani (22.97) and Deist (22.01) swam for FIU while Rowe (22.29), Gloria Mavrova (22.47), Lauren Cowher (22.57) and Chloe Parsemain (22.79) swam for Marshall and pushed FIU the whole way in that race, almost causing another big upset.

 Event 7  Women 200 Yard Freestyle Relay
==================================================================================
  Meet Record: R 1:28.94  2/21/2013 Southern Methodist University, S M U-NT
                          N Lindborg, I Arcila, M Babok, N Rangelova
                 1:29.16  A NCAA Automatic
                 1:29.90  B NCAA Consideration
    School                           Seed     Finals       Points 
==================================================================================
  1 FIU                           1:30.50    1:29.68 B       40  
     1) Ruele, Naomi SO               2) r:0.23 Bertelli, Letizia JR  
     3) r:0.28 Alfani, Jenny SR       4) r:0.18 Deist, Jenny SR       
    r:+0.69  22.69        44.70 (22.01)
        1:07.67 (22.97)     1:29.68 (22.01)
  2 Marshall                      1:32.09    1:30.12         34  
     1) Rowe, Sirena FR               2) r:1.85 Mavrova, Gloriya JR   
     3) r:0.29 Cowher, Lauren JR      4) r:0.40 Parsemain, Chloe SR   
    r:+0.70  22.29        44.76 (22.47)
        1:07.33 (22.57)     1:30.12 (22.79)
  3 Rice                          1:32.53    1:30.83         32  
     1) Nezelek, Kate FR              2) r:0.03 Ragsdale, Shelbi SR   
     3) r:0.27 Parham, Jaecey JR      4) r:0.27 Rhodes, Lauren JR     
    r:+0.71  22.96        45.59 (22.63)
        1:08.60 (23.01)     1:30.83 (22.23)
  4 Old Dominion                  1:35.50    1:33.43         30  
     1) Vandepoel, Colleen SR         2) r:0.38 Norris, Stephanie SR  
     3) r:0.31 Brem, Ashley SO        4) r:0.21 Sjoberg, Sofie JR     
    r:+0.69  23.31        46.64 (23.33)
        1:10.20 (23.56)     1:33.43 (23.23)
  5 North Texas  'B'              1:37.47    1:34.96         28  
     1) Opiela, Kelsey SO             2) r:0.39 Buckley, Sydney JR    
     3) r:0.39 Connelly, Courtney SR  4) r:0.09 Manry, Meredith FR    
    r:+1.60  23.56        47.66 (24.10)
        1:11.30 (23.64)     1:34.96 (23.66)
  6 F A U                         1:36.73    1:36.41         26  
     1) Mark, Devon FR                2) r:0.21 Reuter, Megan JR      
     3) r:0.10 Doan, Melanie FR       4) r:-0.01 Roper, Hannah SR     
    r:+0.66  24.13        48.24 (24.11)
        1:12.66 (24.42)     1:36.41 (23.75)
  7 F A U  'B'                    1:39.88    1:38.77         24  
     1) Witkay, Kelsey FR             2) r:0.19 Sawyers, Savannah FR  
     3) r:0.25 Krause, Kalanne FR     4) r:0.06 Kok, Sharon FR        
    r:+0.66  24.63        49.08 (24.45)
        1:14.53 (25.45)     1:38.77 (24.24)
  8 Old Dominion  'B'                  NT    1:39.74         22  
     1) Vido, Julia SR                2) r:0.20 Couto, Raquel SR      
     3) r:0.42 Cuomo, Kylie JR        4) r:0.23 Escobar, Mary JR      
    r:+0.71  24.73        49.39 (24.66)
        1:14.89 (25.50)     1:39.74 (24.85)
 -- North Texas                   1:34.23         DQ        
     1) Thurstin, Brittany SO         2) r:0.26 Sienczyk, Jowita FR   
     3) r:0.12 Morris, Isabelle JR    4) r:0.34 Jensen, Emmabeth SO   
    r:+0.61  23.33        46.43 (23.10)
        1:09.52 (23.09)          DQ (23.17)

FIU holds a lead of nearly 100 points over second place Marshall as Rice fell into third place.

Live results

Team Standings:

  1. Florida International, 344
  2. Marshall, 251
  3. Rice, 225
  4. North Texas, 133
  5. Old Dominion, 99
  6. Florida Atlantic, 86
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Author: Andy Ross

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Andy Ross graduated Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University where he studied Radio and Television and Journalism. He is a native of West Lafayette, Indiana and has been on board with Swimming World since January 2015.

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