By Melissa Maykut
OXFORD, Ohio - The fate of the RedHawks' perfect 5-0 conference record will come down to one final dual meet Saturday, Feb. 9 in Athens, Ohio against the Ohio Bobcats.
If it wins on the road this weekend, the Miami University women's swimming and diving team would clinch a flawless regular-season record in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).
In Miami's final home meet last weekend against the Ball State Cardinals, the RedHawks honored 13 seniors during Senior Day. Wanting to finish their final home meet of their careers on a high note, the seniors led their team to a 175-104 win over the Cardinals.
The seniors got Miami out in front early in the 200-yard medley relay, with Leah Thornton, Stacie Clagg, Bekka Westrick, and Maddie Kete winning the event in 1:43.37. Thornton continued to shine throughout the meet, sweeping the 100 and 200 backstroke events. Senior Laura Krueger also earned herself a victory, taking the 200 butterfly in 2:06.61. Miami also earned points from Westrick's victory in the 100 fly (55.25), Kete's win in the 100 freestyle race (51.38), and in the three-meter diving contest when senior Lisa Werwinski earned the top score of 308.10.
At 10-1, the RedHawks have been nearly unbeatable, with their only loss in the season opener on Oct. 19 against Purdue.
However, the Bobcats are on a winning streak of their own. Ohio earned its fifth consecutive win of the season Feb. 2 against the Toledo Rockets, winning the meet, 170-130. Ohio's Kristin Capcik set a new program record in the three-meter diving competition, placing first with a score of 337.35. Ohio also dominated the swimming events with Lauren Fink winning the 100 free in 23.31 and Addison Ferguson sprinting to victory in the 100 back.
Head coach Dave Jennings said the meet against Ohio will be tough challenge for his team.
"The Ohio-Miami meet has always been a great competition over the years," Jennings said. "Ohio will be a very strong and confident team going into this weekend's meet. Our goal is to do pretty much what we have been doing the entire season, racing and competing. Certainly, this will be our toughest dual meet of the season."
When these two teams met last season, it was a back-and-forth affair. The RedHawks won the 200-medley relay at the start of the meet, but powerful swimming gave Ohio the lead when the Bobcats won the 200 free. Thornton managed to steal the lead back when she won the 100 back race. Maegan O'Connor took two individual victories in the 100 and 200 fly events, while diver Nikki Craft won both the one and three-meter board contests. The RedHawks managed to clinch a 160-140 victory over the Bobcats following a final win in the 400-yard medley relay.
If the RedHawks are able to defeat the Bobcats in the season's final dual meet, Miami will head to Buffalo, N.Y. for the MAC Championships (Feb. 28 - March 2) with momentum.
The swimmers who will not compete at MACs this year will stay in Oxford to race in the Ohio Senior State Championships March 1-3.