Feb. 24, 2012



AKRON, Ohio -- Individual titles by Miami's Maegan O'Connor and Leah Thornton and a co-championship by the RedHawk 200 medley relay stoked a huge Friday night effort for the RedHawk women's swimming and diving team at the Mid-American Conference Championships.

Miami's outstanding performance whittled a nearly 100-point deficit down to just 32 as the teams prepare for the all-important third and final day of competition on Saturday. Toledo stands in first place, 395 to 384 over second-place Ohio. Miami is third with 363 points, Buffalo is fourth with 320 and Eastern Michigan is fifth with 255. Ball State (219), host Akron (178) and Bowling Green (179) make up the balance of the standings.

Five more Ocacek Natatorium records fell Friday, bringing the total up to 10 through 13 events.  

In the first event of the night, Miami and Toledo  tied for first in the 200 medley relay.  Toledo’s team of Maria Bargardi, Laura Lindsay, Beth Rogers and Carly Harter swam stroke-for-stroke with Miami’s Leah Thornton, Stacie Clagg, BEKKA WESTRICK and Maddie Kete, to a time of 1:40.48.  Both teams set new pool records.  The tie marks the first time in MAC women’s championship history that there has been a tie for the title.

In the 400 individual medley finals, Clagg finished seventh with a season-best time of 4:22.42. Miami's Kayla Scott and Brianna Fujan placed 12th and 15th, respectively.

Miami dominated the 100 butterfly as O'Connor and Westrick finished first and second with respective times of 53.85 (a personal record) and 53.90. In the consolation finals, Brittney Rohr and Kelsey Mallon placed 11th and 13th.

Chelsey Bruington overcame sickness to finish 10th in the consolation finals while Kete placed 12th.

RedHawk swimmers placed fifth, eighth and 10th in the 100 breaststroke. Clagg had a time for a 1:03.01, a season-best time. Freshman Gabbie Pettinichi (1:03.69) and KAYLA SCOTT (1:03.90) also earned important team points.

Thornton's time of 54:42 in the 100 backstroke not only was good enough for second career MAC title, it also was a season-best and established a new pool record. Katie Bootsma (ninth, 55.57) and BRIANNA FUJAN (11th, 56.03) both had season-best times, while O'Connor placed 12th in a time of 56.12.

In the consolation finals of three-meter diving, Miami's Lisa Werwinski placed fifth (281.20 points). Nikki Craft and Lacey Houser will compete Saturday night in the finals.

Friday's final event was the 800 freeststyle relay. Miami's quartet of Bruington, Kete, Courtney Collett and Thornton placed third in a time of 7:24.76. Toledo (7:19.17) and Ohio's teams (7:21.08) finished ahead of the RedHawks.

On tap for Saturday are finals in the 1650 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, the 200 breaststroke, the 200 butterfly, three-meter diving and the 400 freestyle relay.