Emma Sticklen, Dakota Luther Shine in 200 Fly; Erica Sullivan Blasts 1000 Free as Texas Women Again Beat NC State

Emma Sticklen -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Emma Sticklen, Dakota Luther Shine in 200 Fly; Erica Sullivan Blasts 1000 Free as Texas Women Again Beat NC State

After the Texas women dominated NC State in Friday night’s session with Kelly Pash (200 free) and Erica Sullivan (500 free) each recording No. 1 nationally-ranked swims, the Longhorns’ continued posting impressive efforts Saturday as the teams’ dual meet continued. This time, Carol Capitani’s group prevailed by a 93-53 margin with another pair of individual swims topping the national rankings.

In the 200 butterfly, Texas junior Emma Sticklen held off fifth-year swimmer Dakota Luther for a narrow win, 1:51.37 to 1:51.58, and those times both surpassed the previous top mark in the country, the 1:51.96 that Pash recorded at the Minnesota Invitational in December. Both swimmers beat the 1:51.80 that Luther (then swimming at Georgia) recorded on the way to a fourth-place finish at NCAAs last year, and both edged their previous lifetime-best times (Sticklen 1:51.45, Luther 1:51.64). Add in Pash’s swim from earlier in the year, and the Longhorns now own the top three times nationally.

The final individual event of the day saw Sullivan put up a time of 9:33.66 in the 1000 freestyle, surpassing the previous national best of 9:34.36 established by Alabama’s Kensey McMahon. Meanwhile, the Longhorns went 1-2 in the 200 breaststroke with Lydia Jacoby winning in 2:06.66 and Anna Elendt placing second in 2:07.83. Jacoby’s time was good for seventh in the country.

Olivia Bray won the 100 backstroke for Texas in 51.50, and in diving, Hailey Hernandez scored 402.15 on the 3-meter board to lead a Texas 1-2-3-4 with Bridget O’NeilJordan Skilken and Janie Boyle. The only individual win for NC State came in the 100 free, where Katharine Berkoff, celebrating her 22nd birthday, hit the wall in 47.87 to edge out Pash (47.89) by two hundredths.

The team of Grace Cooper, Sticklen, Kyla Leibel and Pash won the 200 free relay in 1:27.05, with Sticklen recording an enormous 21.28 split that was only a taste of what she would unleash later in the 200 fly. For comparison, Sticklen split 21.92 on this relay at last year’s NCAA Championships.

The final race of the day, the 400 medley relay, saw the Texas team of Bray, Jacoby, Sticklen and Pash combine for a mark of 3:25.29, much quicker than the previous top time in the country of 3:25.96 that Texas established in December. The only other team to swim within three seconds of that mark this season is Stanford (3:26.97). Once again, Sticklen shined in relay action with her 49.35 split, quicker than her flat-start time of 49.79 from Friday’s action. Jacoby went 57.13 on breaststroke, and Pash finished in 47.33.