For the first time since 2007, a team other than Missouri State stood atop the Missouri Valley Conference. Southern Illinois trailed by over thirty points after three days of racing, but clawed its way back into the team race on Saturday. The Salukis gave Missouri State all they could handle and won the meet by 0.5 points.
The night started off with a distance sweep for Southern Illinois. The Salukis swept the top four spots in the 1650 with Bryn Handley claiming the win at 16:37.50. Kelsie Walker was second at 16:47.29 and Helena Amorim was third at 16:52.06. The Salukis put six in the top eight in the mile.
In the 200 back, Southern Illinois’ Sarah James won with a 1:59.92 ahead of Rachel Root of Illinois State. Northern Iowa’s Aftin Phyfe had a strong last 50 as she finished third at 2:01.47.
In the 100 free, it was Northern Iowa that had a sweep with Molly Lembezeder winning at 50.79 ahead of teammate Crystal Florman at 50.99. McKenna Avery of Southern Illinois was third at 51.18. Lembezeder won her second event of the meet after winning the 50 free on Thursday.
In the 200 breast, Northern Iowa claimed another win with Junior Veronica Herrmann winning her second event after winning the 100. Herrmann won with a 2:15.55, holding off Lauren Pavel of Missouri State at 2:15.66. Courtney Taylor of Illinois State was third at 2:16.79.
Missouri State made the meet interesting again after sweeping the top five spots in the 200 fly, doing their best Texas men impression. Dora Kiss won her third event of the meet with a 1:58.30 and a meet record. Rebecca Amparano was third at 1:59.29 and Josie Pearson was third at 2:02.48.
Southern Illinois climbed back into the team race after Sherry Zhang and Rachel Williams went 1-2 in 3m diving. Missouri State had a point a half lead going into the 400 free relay over Southern Illinois. Whomever was going to finish first between those two schools was going to be the winner.
Northern Iowa ended up winning the relay with a new conference record at 3:23.56 ahead of Southern Illinois (3:23.70) and Missouri State (3:24.35). Florman, Phyfe, Autumn Roepsch and Lembezeder won for the Panthers and Oliwia Okaj, Avery, Walker and Handley were on the championship clinching team for Southern Illinois.
Final team scores:
Southern Illinois, 799.5
Missouri State, 799
Northern Iowa, 627
Illinois State, 454.5
Little Rock, 305