FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Behind dominant performances from the senior class, the Arkansas swimming and diving team cruised past Illinois 187-101 on Saturday at the Arkansas Natatorium on Senior Day.
The Razorbacks captured first-place finishes in all 16 events on the day. But it was the senior class that was responsible for nine of those, helping the squad improve to 9-1 overall this season.
“This group of 10 seniors is just really special to me,” Arkansas swimming and diving head coach Sean Schimmel said. “In my collegiate coaching career, I’ve never had 10 seniors walk. For them to stay together and go through everything that they’ve gone through to make this happen is very special and unique. We go through a lot, day in and day out, both academically and athletically. So it’s a testament to them.”
The 200 medley relay team of senior Anna Mayfield, freshman Madison Strathman, junior Natalie Burnett and senior Nina Drolc opened the meet with a win, clocking a time of 1:43.68 – the fourth-best time in the event this season.
Individually, Drolc and Mayfield led the way, racking up two wins apiece. Drolc placed first in the 50 free (23.51) and 100 free (51.12) while Mayfield won the 100 back (55.54) and 500 free (4:53.14).
Senior Rachel Stoehr touched the wall first in 1000 free in 10:23.52 – her second best time in the event this season – while senior and Arkansas Female Scholar Athlete of the Year Maddie Monroe registered a time of 1:50.88 in the 200 free en route to a first-place finish.
Three-time SEC Freshman of the Week Madison Strathman continued her winning ways. Strathman was victorious in the 100 breast (1:04.60) and 200 breast (2:17.12). Just behind her in the 100 breast was senior Erika McGovern with a time of 1:04.93 – just .52 seconds from her lifetime best. McGovern shifted her focus to the 100 fly later in the meet where she achieved a lifetime best with a time of 58.68.
Also posting lifetime-best times were sophomore Taylor Weiss and freshman Erin Kelly. In the 200 fly, Weiss outswam her competition in 1:59.47, which marks the fastest time in the event by a Razorback this season and ranks 74th nationally. Kelly picked up a second-place finish in the 50 free in 23.99.
Sophomore Chloe Hannam also garnered two victories on the day, winning the 200 back (1:59.61) and the 200 IM (2:03.58). In addition, she placed second in the 100 back with a time of 56.86.
Also contributing to the Razorbacks’ scoring efforts, sophomore Jessie Garrison placed second in the 200 fly (2:01.91) while senior Rachel Kessler followed with a time of 2:06.04.
Junior Natalie Burnett (50 free, 24.00), sophomore Chelsea Tatlow (200 free, 1:51.78) and freshman Madison Umberger (100 back, 57.36) all added third-place finishes in their respective events.
The Razorback diving squad had a career day as seniors Shelby Bartlett, Hannah Bortnick, Nicole Gillis and freshman Molly Harvie turned in personal bests on both the three-meter and one-meter competitions.
Bartlett won the three-meter competition with a score of 336.45 and placed third in the one-meter with a score of 301.05. Bortnick was victorious in the one-meter (304.58) and snagged third in the three-meter, scoring 329.33. Gillis scored a 304.28 and a 329.70 in the one-meter and three-meter, respectively. Harvie registered a 310.58 on the three-meter and a 271.20 on the one-meter en route to qualifying for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. All four divers have now achieved zone qualifying scores.
“It makes me proud that the seniors and this team finished the regular season like they did today,” Arkansas diving coach Jeff DiNicola said. “We’re really starting to click. It’s all starting to come together at the right time as we get ready for the championship season. Everyone performed well, but those seniors really had a good day. That’s really fun to watch.”
Mayfield, Drolc, Stoehr and Monroe closed out Senior Day in style by nabbing first-place in the 400 free relay (3:26.66).
The Razorbacks will head to Columbia, Missouri for the SEC Championships on Feb. 16-20.
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