2017 Big 12 Women’s Championships Fan Guide: Texas Rising

2017 BIG 12 WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS

In wholly-unprecedented-in-recent-years fashion, the women of the University of Texas have bulldozed their way into the top of the conversation around this year’s women’s NCAA Championships. The team is fresh off a colossal upset over defending national champions Georgia in January, when they snapped the Bulldogs’ 22-year home dual meet win streak. Under the intrepid leadership of coach Carol Capitani, the Longhorns even spent some time at the top of the CSCAA national poll. Though they have since fallen, to 2nd in the CSCAA poll and 4th in our own January NCAA Power Rankings, their performance this season is particularly impressive given their 15th place finish at NCAA Championships last season.

But, before the Longhorns can take on NCAAs, they’ll play host to the 2017 Big 12 Women’s Conference Championships. While the NCAA conference shuffle has left the Big 12 as the weakest of the Power 5 in NCAA Division I swimming, Texas is the only true national contender in the bunch. The team title may not be dramatic this season, but the battles down the scoresheet leave interesting opportunities in the fight for second and third.

Texas’s senior duo of Madisyn Cox and Tasija Karosas have spent their 2016-2017 season rewriting the Big 12 record book, with Cox hitting 1:52.83 in the 200 IM for the 10th-fastest performance in history and updating her 400 IM record to 4:03.16. Karosas, meanwhile, became the first Big 12 swimmer in history under 51 in the 100 back with 50.86 at the Texas Invite.

The team boasts big talent further down the roster, including defending individual Big 12 champions Joanna Evans, Quinn Carrozza, Mimi Schneider, Olivia Anderson, Rebecca Millard, and Remedy Rulealong with all-star newcomers Claire Adams, Kaitlin Hartyand Lauren CaseTheir success will be key to boosting the team’s overall placement down the line at NCAAs

Kansas and Iowa State have spent the last couple of years battling over Big 12 second place, with Iowa State taking the second-place edge in 2015 and Kansas winning second in 2016. Though both lost major players to the graduation stage last year (including Kansas’s heavy-hitter Chelsie Miller), Kansas should have a leg up over Iowa State, especially after their recent 180-116 dual victory over the Cyclones this month. The big names for Kansas will be backstroker Yulduz Kucharova and distance swimmer Libby Walker, while Iowa State’s Casey Roberts will look to return to the Big 12 podium in the 200 IM, where she finished third last year.

However, this may be the year that West Virginia puts up a strong fight against the Midwestern Jayhawk/Cyclone rivalry. Emma Skelley of has already hit a pair of NCAA B cuts in the 500 and 1650 free, as has her backstroking teammate Amelie Currat in both the 100 and 200 distances. Morgan Bullock is faster in the 100 fly and 200 fly than any other non-Texas swimmer this season (54.01/2:00.69). Emma Harrismeanwhile, looks stronger than any other non-Texas swimmer in the 200 breast with her 2:14.97 .

SCHEDULE

Wednesday (2/22):

  • 200 Medley Relay
  • Men’s 1-meter diving
  • 800 Free Relay

Thursday (2/23):

  • 500 Free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • Women’s 1-meter diving
  • 400 Medley Relay

Friday (2/24):

  • Women’s 3-meter diving
  • 400 IM
  • 100 Fly
  • 200 Free
  • 100 Breast
  • 100 Back
  • Men’s 3-meter diving
  • 200 Free Relay

Saturday (2/25):

  • Women’s platform diving
  • 200 Back
  • 200 Free
  • 1650 Free
  • 200 Breast
  • 200 Fly
  • Women’s platform diving
  • 400 Free Relay

STARS

Iowa State – Danica Delaquis (junior breaststroker/IMer), Kasey Roberts (junior breaststroker/IMer), Keely Soellner (freshman distance freestyler)– Roberts hasn’t quite hit her fastest times this season, but last year, she was able to nab three top-five individual Big 12 finishes. Delaquis is strong in the same breaststroke and IM events, but Soellner adds some distance strength.

KansasLibby Walker (sophomore distance freestyler/flyer/IMer), Bryce Hinde (senior breaststroker), Yulduz Kuchkarova (senior backstroker), Haley Bishop (sophomore freestyler/flyer) – Kuchkarova will be fighting against a crowded Texas backstroke field to cap off her college career, while Walker will battle for a place on the podium in the distance events.

TCU – Elise Forzley (freshman IMer), Katie Woods (freshman distance freestyler), Maddie Ibrahim (freshman backstroker/IMer) – Forzley’s 400 IM and Woods’s mile are the best chances for TCU at big individual points, and, as freshmen, they may see huge improvement with the coming taper. 

Texas – Claire Adams (freshman backstroker), Madisyn Cox (senior IMer/breaststroker/freestyler), Rebecca Millard (junior sprint freestyler), Joanna Evans (sophomore distance freestyler), Tasija Karosas (senior backstroker/freestyler/IMer), Remedy Rule (sophomore butterflier) – Winning the meet isn’t a concern for Texas as much as tuning up before NCAAs. It seems like Cox has been on the edge of a world-class breakthrough for a couple of years, and this could be it. In a similar way, riding on the wave of the Georgia dual defeat, this post-season could be Texas’s breakout into a true NCAA power.

West Virginia – Morgan Bullock (freshman flier/IMer), Amelie Currat (junior backstroker/freestyler), Emma Skelley (senior distance freestyler),  – Though the Mountaineers’ relays don’t quite add up to Kansas or Iowa State’s, Skelley and company have a chance to score major individual points that may make them a contender.

Showdowns

100 Back – Tasija Karosas has been the face of Big 12 backstroke throughout her college career, and her latest surge to 50.86 shows that she is not coasting into her senior season. But, though she may be the only Big 12 swimmer in history under 51, she shouldn’t rest easy. Former junior world record holder Claire Adams and her fellow freshman Kaitlin Harty are heading into their first college tapers, and both have incredible backstroke potential. Adams goes into the NCAA post-season with a quick 51.88 season-best and something to prove, after an early-summer hand injury derailed her long course Olympic Trials performance. And, though Harty has only been 54 this season, she saw incredible improvement around taper time last season, rocketing to 51.67. At the same time, WVU’s Amelie Currat and KU’s Yulduz Kuchkarova have each hovered around the 54 mark this season; the two will battle each other and fight to make themselves seen among the Texas backstroke excitement.

200 IM – This race is less of a showdown and more of a chance to watch a potential national champion practice her craft. Madisyn Cox comes into the 200 IM looking better than she ever has, fresh off the 10th-fastest performance in history, ranked #1 in the NCAA, and hungry after finishing fourth at this summer’s Olympic Trials. With 1:52.83, Cox is nearly five seconds ahead of anyone else who could potentially be in the field, and her Big 12 performance should give us a perfect preview of what’s to come at NCAAs.

200 Medley Relay – After Texas, the race for second place in this relay could be anybody’s game. Last year, Kansas had the edge with second place, and they are returning all four relay swimmers, Yulduz Kuchkarova, Bryce Hinde, Pia Pavlic, and Haley Bishop. However, Iowa State’s Harper Emswiler, Kasey Roberts, Kenzie Goudreau, and Laura Miksch have put up the fastest time this season of the non-Texas Big 12 teams with their 1:42.58 from the Iowa dual. And, West Virginia and TCU are both within just a second-and-a-half of Iowa State’s season-best going into the conference championship.

SELECTION

Texas is in a league of their own here, and they shouldn’t have to do much to win their 6th-straight title. It will be interesting to see how far they taper and how much they save for NCAAs, especially in their 200 medley relay, which has not hit the NCAA ‘A’ time yet.

Though Kansas and Iowa State look near-even on the relays, Kansas has more individual potential, and West Virginia has some new individual point-scorers that they couldn’t count on last year. However, it may be another year before West Virginia grows into a true competitor for the other two teams.

  1. Texas
  2. Kansas
  3. Iowa State
  4. West Virginia
  5. Texas Christian

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About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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