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By Katie Wingert, Swimming World College Intern.
In an appropriate, sparkling finish to the Columbia Speedo Sectionals, the University of Missouri women, Jake Molacek, and Michael Andrew all saw gold.
The women’s 1650 was a long race with a tight fight for gold, ultimately won out by SwimTulsa’s Liberty Howell. It was Clayton Shaw Park’s Alexis Daniels who led the race the whole way, until the last 150 yards, when Howell made a move. Howell touched in 16:48.20, while Daniels settled for the silver in 16:48.50 Far behind, King Marlin Swim Club’s Catherine Callahan took the bronze in 17:06.79, eighteen seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.
The men’s race brought gold once again to season distance veteran Dane Florea of Columbia Swim Club. Florea crushed his competition in 15:21.17, while the Jonesboro Jets’ Jack Little dropped fourteen seconds, for 15:43.62, to join him on the podium. Gustavo Gutierrez Lozano, swimming unattached, was good for the bronze in 15:44.15.
The women’s 200 backstroke brought a surprising victory from Astrid Dirkswager of Wichita Swim Club, who topped the field in 1:58.63. Two other swimmers who made jumps from the initial psych sheets were Parkway’s Madison Brown, who took silver in 2:00.81, while American Energy’s Dewi Blose grabbed the bronze in 2:01.43.
A thick top three fought for the top spot on the men’s side. Benjamin Patton of Wichita Swim Club led after an aggressive first hundred in 51.39, but it was the measured approach of Oklahoma Baptist University’s Felipe Ramirez, who eased into the event in 53.26 and came back in a near-even 53.37, that won the race. Ramirez hit the wall in 1:46.63, and Patton finished a mere four hundredths of a second behind him, in 1:46.67. Jack Wever of Flyers Aquatic Swim Team followed only a short distance behind, in 1:47.93.
The tight finishes continued in the women’s 100 yard freestyle. The University of Missouri’s Iliana Jones, the sprinting star of the meet, defended her reputation with a 50.65, just barely touching out Lincoln Select’s Alana Palmer in 50.66. Jones took out the first fifty in 24.31 and managed to hold off Palmer in the second fifty, despite the sixteen-year-old’s 26.24 charge. Palmer had another dog fight herself, as Rockwood Swim Club’s Anna Miller surged at 26.13, for a final time of 50.68.
Meanwhile, in the men’s 100 freestyle, Jacob Molacek continued his victory parade and handily defeated his career-best time, all while demolishing the field. Molacek went out at 20.07 and stopped the clock in 42.38. The race for second, between Giovanny Lima, swimming unattached, and Jack Dolan of Rockwood Swim Club, brought more intensity after Molacek’s seemingly-effortless win. Thanks to a blazing second fifty, Lima posted a 44.23 and just topped Dolan’s 44.27.
The women’s 200 butterfly was claimed by Azra Advic of the University of Missouri, who dropped over three seconds from the morning for a 1:59.15. Columbia Swim Club’s Ellen Flanagan found silver in 2:01.66. Thirteen-year-old Kate McCarville of Springfield Aquatics, arguably the story of the women’s meet, took the bronze in a 2:02.01.
Unsurprisingly, in the men’s race, it was Michael Andrew of Race Pace Club who dominated with a soaring 1:46.31. Andrew was followed by Florea, who was the only other man under 1:50, in 1:49.44. Shortly thereafter, River City Aquatics’ Brogan Davis nabbed third in 1:50.07.
The 400 freestyle relays rounded out a jam-packed weekend of tight races in Columbia. In the women’s race, Kansas City Blazers led the field with a 3:25.49. The Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders followed behind, in 3:28.07, just ahead of the Rec Plex Sharks, who hit a 3:29.48. On the men’s side, Oklahoma Baptist University’s B relay came away with the gold in 3:02.32. The next top finisher was Greater Omaha, led off by Molacek, in 3:05.66. The Kansas City Blazers settled for bronze in 3:08.01.
All results can be found on Meet Mobile – 2017 Speedo Sectionals Championship Series