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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – University of Arkansas junior Leah Pierce set a school record in the 200 breast during the event finals at the Minnesota U.S. Grand Prix on Saturday night, winning with a time of 2:10.96, also the second-fastest time in the country and a personal best time; Pierce previously set a record in the 200 breast on Saturday morning in the prelims, winning the race with her time of 2:15.63. Katie Kastes had another strong day at the meet, winning the 400 IM finals in 4:19.71, a team season best in the event and the third best time in Razorback history. Kastes already holds the Arkansas record in the 400 IM and her time in the 400 IM prelims Saturday morning, 4:21.64, sits fourth on the all-time list.
“After a sluggish morning session, the girls came back and had an incredible finals session,” head coach Jeff Poppell said. “A number of individuals achieved career best times, highlighted by the individual titles by Katie Kastes in the 400 IM, Leah Pierce in the 200 breast and Lynette Ng’s runner-up finish in the 100 back.”
After Pierce’s record-breaking performance in the 200 breast, Razorback Lynette Ng broke her first school record of her career in the final of the 100 back in 55.55, previously set by Missy Allert in 1993.
“Leah had a phenomenal swim in 200 breast and she shattered her own record by 5 seconds to post the second-fastest time in the country this year,” Poppell said. “Lynette had a fantastic swim in 100 and also broke a long-standing record by former Arkansas All-American, Missy Allert.
More personal best times fell for the Razorbacks on Saturday; Jamie Marks finished second in a best time of 4:57.93, Ng set a new best in the “B” heat of the 50 free finals, placing second in 24.12, and Kylie Kastes set a personal best in the 500 free prelims, finishing 30th with a time of 5:06.35. Katie Kastes put up another big time for the squad in her team season high 4:51.47 finish in the 500 free finals where she placed fifth.
“We have one more day left in competition and we’re hoping to come out tomorrow morning and have a very good morning session to set up a great final night of the meet,” Poppell said.
Other Razorbacks swimming in the finals of the 400 IM with Katie Kastes were Marks, who finished fifth in 4:23.37. In the “B” final, Erica Totten touched in first with a time of 4:27.34, Erin Neumann came in third with her time of 4:29.37, Jillienne Schilling was fourth at 4:30.32, and Lisa Lunkenheimer’s time of 4:30.77 earned her the sixth spot; Elizabeth Engs was seventh in the race at 4:32.95. Katie Davis swam the “C” heat final and came in fourth with the time of 4:31.67.
Behind Ng in the 50 free “B” final, Summer Jackson’s time of 24.15 was third best in the race, and Katie Whitbeck finished in 24.14 for fifth place.
While Pierce took first in the final of the 200 breast, Neumann was second in the “B” final, touching in at 2:21.38, Jessie Clark was third in a time of 2:21.57, and Engs finished at 2:26.80, in eighth place. In the “C” heat final, Sarah Howard picked up a sixth place finish with her time of 2:26.25.
In the “B” heat of the 100 back finals, Davis was fifth in 58.83, and Clark finished seventh in the “C” heat at a time of 59.84.
In the finals of the 500 free, Carr won the “B” heat in 4:52.60 and Templin came in fourth in a time of 4:55.82. Schilling was the third Razorback in the “B” final and touched in at 5:01.52, in seventh place. In the “C” heat with Marks was Whitbeck, who was third behind Marks in 4:59.36, and Totten placed sixth with a time of 5:01.88.
The last event of Saturday was the 400 Medley Relay final, where the Arkansas team of Ng, Pierce, Katie Kastes, and Whitbeck placed second in a time of 3:49.97. The other team for the Razorbacks, Davis, Neumann, Lunkenheimer, and Jackson finished sixth in a time of 3:55.24.
In the prelims on Saturday morning, the Razorbacks qualified eight swimmers for the finals of the 400 IM. Behind Kastes, Marks came in fifth in 2:25.11, Totten had a time of 4:31.17 for 12th place, and Schilling followed her in 13th with a time of 4:31.51. Engs qualified for the finals in 14th place in a time of 4:32.05 and Neumann came in 15th at 4:32.35; Lunkenheimer was in 16th place with her time of 4:32.44 and Katie Davis was the last to qualify, finishing 23rd in 4:34.88. Emily Fletcher also swam in the race, touching in at 4:48.82, in 44th place.
In the prelims of the 50 free, Ng was the first to the finish for Arkansas with a time of 24.31 in 10th place, followed by Jackson in 12th at 24.36 and Whitbeck in 14th at a time of 24.41. Other Razorbacks competing in the event were Megan Haskins who came in 26th with a time of 24.66 and Kylie Kastes who placed 44th in a time of 25.35.
All the Razorbacks entered in the 200 breast event qualified for Saturday night’s finals. Pierce won the race and Clark touched in ninth with a time of 2:22.91. Neumann was right behind in 10th at 2:23.43, Engs placed 14th with her time of 2:24.68, and Howard finished at 2:27.66 in 23rd place.
Only three Razorbacks swam in the prelims of the 50 free, and once again, Arkansas saw all its entrants make it to the final round. Ng was the first Razorback to the finish, in sixth place with a time of 57.69. Davis was 16th in a time of 59.23, and Clark came in at 1:00.04 in 22nd place.
In the 500 free prelims, the Kastes sisters were joined by Carr who was the 10th competitor to finish in a time of 4:55.20 with Templin following in 11th at 4:56.74. Schilling finished in 5:00.11 in 16th place, Totten was in 18th with a time of 5:01.12, and Whitbeck rounded out the top 20 at 5:02.23, in 20th place. The last finals qualifier was Marks who came in 24th in a time of 5:03.67. Howard just missed the cut, finishing 25th in 5:03.86, Sutphen was in 38th at 5:12.04, Haskins was 39th overall at 5:12.79 and Lunkenheimer came in 41st in 5:15.14.
The final day of competition at the Minnesota U.S. Grand Prix kicks off at 9 a.m. Sunday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center. Saturday’s preliminary events begin with the 1,650 free, followed by the 200 back, 100 free, 200 fly, and the morning session will end with the 400 free relay; the finals will take place Sunday night at 5 p.m. For updated results and for complete coverage of the Arkansas Razorbacks swimming and diving team, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.