By Melissa Maykut

OXFORD, Ohio - Miami University's senior swimmer Bekka Westrick shattered Miami's 200 freestyle record in her lead leg of the 800-yard freestyle relay during the first night of the Miami Invitational. Westrick swam the lead of the relay in 1:47.55, breaking Allison Stevens' 2009 time of 1:47.69.

"It was a great swim," head coach Dave Jennings said. "She swam just a really really smart race, very controlled, and had a lot of endurance on the end ,so that was a great way to start everything off tonight."

Westrick's phenomenal lead leg of the relay was just the beginning of a great night for Jennings' team. Seniors Molly Tyler and Maddie Kete and sophomore Whitney Mitchell swam the remaining legs of the 800 free relay, earning 72 points for Miami by winning the event in 7:19.52.

Jennings is encouraged his team will continue to do well in the 800 free relay, saying his team swam it five seconds faster tonight then they did last year at the Mid-American Conference meet.

Miami's second relay team, consisting of seniors Ellen Barhorst and Leah Thornton, sophomore Caitlyn Fujan, and freshman Sara Krueger, finished third in the event in 7:27.99.

Sophomore Courtney Collett and freshman Aubrey Kluth went one-two in the 1650 free race, dominating the event for the RedHawks. Collett finished the race in 16:46.41 and Kluth followed in 16:52.97. Both times are personal bests for the young swimmers.

"Our distance people all the way around did great," Jennings said. "It's really nice to see our distance girls starting to evolve and that's really going to help us be successful in the end, no question about it."

The men's team also had a solid night, finishing second in the 800 free relay, earning 60 points for Miami. Sophomore Joe Baumgartner swam the lead leg of the race in 1:40.84, finishing two seconds behind Denison's lead swimmer. Freshman Chris Dieter, senior Ian Joyce, and sophomore Andy Kilkenny swam the remaining legs, going runner-up behind Denison in 6:43.62.

"The relay was outstanding," head coach Pete Lindsay said. "The "A" relay was seven seconds faster than last year at this meet."

Junior Sean Minderlein paced to a fifth-place finish in the 1650 free event (16:08.91), while senior Alex Reinhardt finished eighth in 16:24.37. Junior Maxwell Cain placed sixteenth for the RedHawks, finishing the race in 16:58.58.

Overall, Lindsay said his team got off to a good start to kick off the Invitational.

"The team attitude was good," Lindsay said. "People were ready to race."

After the first night of competition, Miami's women's team stands in first with 275 points. Denison is second with 161 points and Cincinnati is third with 142 points.

Miami's men's team is in third place with 172 points, trailing first-place Denison who leads after the first night with 226 points and Wright State (222).

The Miami Invitational continues Friday morning at 9 a.m. with the men's and women's 200 butterfly event. Friday's evening session begins at 6 p.m.