By Melissa Maykut

OXFORD, Ohio -- They make perfection look so easy. Miami University’s senior swimmers celebrated Senior Day Saturday afternoon (Feb. 2) with a 175-104 victory over the Ball State Cardinals. The RedHawks improved their flawless Mid-American Conference record to 5-0 this season and 10-1 overall.

Miami’s 13 swimmers were honored this afternoon before competition went underway, with head coach Dave Jennings announcing each individual swimmer as they came out with their parents. As the seniors stood in front of the crowd at the far end of the competition pool, the fathers turned around and revealed letters taped to their shirts that spelled out, “Let’s Go Hawks.”

“This has been a really good group,” Jennings said of his senior class. “They’ve been a lot of fun to coach, so it’s a little sad to see them up there today. But you got to move on, and there will be more coming down the pike.”

Miami got off to a strong start in the 200-yard medley relay when seniors Leah Thornton, Stacie Clagg, Bekka Westrick, and Maddie Kete won the event in 1:43.37. Juniors Brianna Fujan, Nicole Wagner, and Cynthia Donovan, and senior Maegan O’Connor placed third in the relay in 1:47.62. Winning 13 of the 17 points from the event, Miami earned a 13-4 head start on the Cardinals.

With one event down, the victories kept flowing in for Miami.

Sophomore Stephanie Pearce paced her way to first in the 1650 freestyle (17:22.72), winning nine points for the RedHawks. Freshman Kelly Rogers took second, earning the second-fastest time in 17:26.85.

Miami went one-two in the 200 free with sophomore Whitney Mitchell finishing first (1:53.88) and senior Molly Tyler placing second (1:53.90).

The RedHawks then improved their comfortable lead to 57-17 when Thornton cruised to victory in the 100 backstroke race (57.23). O’Connor took second in the event in 58.18. Thornton later went on to sweep the backstroke events when she won the 200 back in 2:03.63.

The RedHawks lost their first event during the 100 breaststroke, when Clagg fell to second behind Ball State’s Bridgette Ruehl, who won the race in 1:03.84. Clagg went runner-up two seconds later in 1:05.36.

Miami countered in the 200 butterfly, going one-two-three in the race. Senior Laura Krueger finished first (2:06.61), freshman Emma Szczupakiewicz took second (2:06.98), and senior Mandi Grandjean finished third, just one second later in 2:07.98.

Jennings and his team led 98-33 when the RedHawks earned the top four times in the 50 free, taking 18 of the 19 points possible from the race. Westrick finished first (23.21), Kete was right behind in second (23.54), Donovan took third (24.01), and sophomore Annie Marquiss earned the fourth fastest time in 24.08.

Over in the diving pool, Miami took the top two scores in the three-meter contest with senior Lisa Werwinski winning it with 308.10 points. Senior Corey Bangs went runner-up with 256.50 points. The roles were reversed in the three-meter diving event when Bangs took the top exhibition score (290.70) and Werwinski won the runner-up exhibition score (264.75).

Kete then made her mark in the 100 free race when she sprinted to the wall in 51.38, earning the fastest time in the event. Clagg was blocked once again in the 200 breast by Ball State’s Ruehl, settling for second in 2:21.30.

Miami improved its lead 161-62 when freshman Aubrey Kluth endured to win the 500 free in 5:05.18. Sophomore Courtney Collett finished second in the race (5:06.25) and Tyler earned three more points for the team in third (5:06.74). Kluth later won the fastest exhibition time in the 400 IM in 4:32.63.

Westrick had tough competition in the 100 fly when Ball State’s Haley Richter stayed on Westrick’s heels the whole race. Westrick pulled through to win the race in 55.25 while Richter finished second in 55.52.

In the seniors’ final home meet event, Westrick, Marquiss, Donovan and Kete finished the race with an exhibition win of 1:34.11.

With a bitter-sweet finale to the seniors’ home meets, the RedHawks will travel to Athens, Ohio on Feb. 9 in hopes of completing their perfect conference season. Following the regular season, Miami will travel to Buffalo from Feb. 28-March 2 for the MAC Championships.

--www.MURedHawks.com--