The Houston Cougars made the two-hour drive to College Station on Thursday for the 2014 edition of their annual dual meet with the Texas A&M Aggies, and on what was a rather tumultuous day for Houston, and walked away with a bit of a silver lining.
The day was a bit of a whirlwind for Houston, as it was announced that 24-year tenured diving coach Jane Figueiredo, the longest tenured coach in the school’s athletics department, was leaving to take a new role as the head coach of the High Performance Centre in London.
The team absorbed the news, however, and swam relatively well, albeit against a much more powerful A&M team. For the first time since the 2011-2012 season, the Cougars took an event win in this series, as senior Krystan Morrell won the women’s 50 free in 24.23, just out-touching Aggie Kelli Benjamin, who was a 24.27.
Aside from that, however, it was all Aggies, as the #4 team in the country rolled to a 159-125 win, with the score kept close by quite a few exhibitions down-the-stretch.
A&M was entered in a lot of off events, but there were still some interesting results. 50-100-200 freestyler Lili Ibanez, likely to be an All-American in all three races and a title contender in at least the 200, won the 500 free at this meet in 4:56.43, beating her New Zealand teammate Ellen Quirke’s 4:59.56. Ibanez usually takes a go at this event a few times a season,
Sprinter Sammie Bosma continued to show off her improved versatility in her sophomore season with wins in both the 100 back (56.52) and 100 fly (55.74). She is becoming a bigger-and-bigger piece of the A&M roster as her second season goes along, and she seems prepared to fill the role that the graduating Paige Miller currently has on the team.
For the second-straight meet, Breeja Larson swam just the 200 yard version of the breaststroke. She went a 2:11.01 – almost a full second faster than she was against SMU in a similar meet last week. This time, she added the 100 backstroke as her 2nd individual swim, and went a 1:01.76 (though she almost perfectly even-split it, going 15.62-15.16-15.88-15.10).
The U.S. Open Record holder book-ended her meet with a 27.9 split on the breaststroke leg 200 medley relay and a 23.0 split on the 200 free relay, both of which led the field, and both of which came in winning efforts. It looks more-and-more inevitable that Larson will be on the 200 free relay at NCAA’s, as she’s put up some very good relay splits.
Fellow Olympian Cammile Adams won the 200 back in 2:02.84.
Some of the other Aggies who stepped up for some good wins in this meet include sophomore Claire Brandt. She was a 1:51.54 in the 200 free to top Adams by .05 seconds. Freshman Cayla Jetter was a 10:22.32 to top the 1000 free, which beat her teammate and NCAA qualifier Melanie McClure by 7 seconds.
In the 100 yard breaststroke, A&M took a 1-2-3 finish led by 21-year old South African freshman Franko Jonker (a South African by way of Brazil, that is). She’s having a very strong 2nd semester so far for A&M, and won this race in 1:02.95. She was followed by Mexican Olympian Erica Dittmer (1:04.03) and Caroline McElhany (1:06.58).