Southern Illinois Holds Three Point Lead on Day Two of MVC


  • Wednesday, February 17 – Saturday, February 20
  • Shea Natatorium, SIU, Carbondale, IL (Central Time Zone)
  • Wednesday Timed Finals 6PM, Prelims 11AM / Finals 6PM (Thurs-Fri), Prelims 11AM / Finals 4pm (Sat.)
  • Defending Champion: Missouri State (8x) (2015 results and recaps here.)
  • Live Results
  • Live Video
  • Championship Central
  • MVC Teams: Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Illinois State, Evansville, Northern Iowa, Arkansas – Little Rock


Last night the Missouri Valley Conference Championship started with the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays, which put Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois in a tie for top team score, each taking first and third place in those events.  Missouri State, the team picked in the coaches poll to win the MVC for the ninth year in a row, was left four points behind after finishing second in both relays.  On day two, SIU and MOST got a chance to showcase their depth in some of their best events, while UNI flexed their muscles in the sprints.  When the dust settled on tonight’s session, even after snagging two close event wins, the Bears are still in second place, having moved just one point closer to the Salukis.


  1. Dora Kiss, SR, Missouri State, 4:47.21
  2. Bryn Handley, SO, Southern Illinois, 4:47.81
  3. Kelsie Walker, SO, Southern Illinois, 4:50.38

Southern Illinois Head Coach Rick Walker has made a name for himself in the world of distance swimming.  There was no doubt that the 500 free would be a strength for the Saluki women in their quest to bring home the MVC title, but their depth here among this six-team conference racked up a staggering amount of points.  SIU took five of the top eight places, with another in the B-final.  Bryn Handley charged home on the last 100 yards with an outstanding 56.48 split, falling just short of unseating the Bears’ Dora Kiss who sealed her complete sweep of four MVC titles in this event over her career at Missouri State.  Completing the top 8 were SIU’s Lauren Stockton (4:54.31,) UALR’s Tori Fryar (4:5.53,) SIU’s Nicole Fuller (4:55.76,) SIU’s Helena Amorim (4:57.12,) and MOST’s Sydney Zupan (4:59.60)


  1. Rebecca Amparano, SR, Missouri State, 2:02.59 (*MVC Record in Prelim 2:02.23.)
  2. Courtney Taylor, SR, Illinois State, 2:02.65
  3. Lauren Pavel, JR, Missouri State, 2:03.41

Rebecca Amparano had to feel confident heading into the final of the 200 IM tonight.  After all, she had set the MVC Record in the preliminaries with a lifetime best 2:02.23.  Last year she finished third behind Bears’ teammate Lauren Pavel and Illinois State’s Courtney Taylor but this year she had already turned in a time faster than anyone in the conference had ever gone.  So of course Pavel and Taylor, who are both breaststrokers, put up a gut-wrenching fight.  Amparano had a lead of over two seconds on both girls after the backstroke and still got passed.  As a matter of fact, she was in fourth place after the breaststroke as another Bear, Briana Horozewski, had also managed to hang on to this point.  For Amparano to win, she had to take all of that lost ground back on the freestyle and that is exactly what she did.  Her 28.70 final split was not quite enough to help her match her record-setting performance from the morning, but it did manage to sneak to the touchpad first, landing her at the top of the podium by .06 over runner-up Taylor.  The Bears scored four swimmers in the 200 IM final, taking back some of the advantage gained by the SIU distance squad in the previous event.  Rounding out the top 8 were MOST’s Briana Horozewski (2:03.45,) SIU’s Chandler Ott (2:04.08,) MOST’s Josie Pearson (2:05.74,) SIU’s Oliwia Okaj (2:06.45,) and SIU’s Emma Brazeau (2:07.72.)


  1. Molly Lembezeder, Northern Iowa, SO, 23.16
  2. Loretta Stelnicki, Missouri State, FR, 23.44
  3. Crystal Florman, Northern Iowa, FR, 23.45

The Panthers from Northern Iowa landed three sprinters in the top six of the 50 freestyle and all of them were below the 24 second mark.  They were led by last night’s stellar 200 medley relay anchor Molly Lembezeder who took the crown almost three tenths of a second ahead of the next finisher.  Missouri State’s Loretta Stelnicki prevented UNI from taking a 1-2 finish by barely out-touching the Panthers’ Crystal Forman 23.44 to 23.45.  SIU’s Avery McKenna (23.53) and Evansville’s Michaela Kent (23.80) both finished ahead of UNI’s Autumn Roepsch who turned in 23.90.  MOST’s Hope Ernhart and SIU’s Riley Schroedter closed out the top 8 with 24.14 and 24.28 respectively.


  1. Cheri Zhang, Southern Illinois, SR, 375.90
  2. Courtney Coverdale, Evansville, SO, 264.65
  3. Nina Privitera, Missouri State, JR, 245.50

Missouri Valley Championship Record Holder Cheri Zhang took top honors in this event for the third year in a row, bringing the Salukis valuable points every time.  This year the runner-up finisher was over 100 points behind, adding an exclamation point to her dominance in MVC diving over her career.  With only 13 divers in the field, this event is often an opportunity for teams to make up some ground, and in this regard it was Northern Iowa who capitalized by scoring four divers at 4th, 5th, 9th and 11th places.  Missouri State did land two divers in the top six, which helped to off-set SIU’s first place finish, but not by enough as SIU also landed the 8th place finish as well.  Completing the top 8 were UNI’s Sarah Kemp and Allie Bay with 243.25 and 242.85; MOST’s Alexis Skiniotes with 240.10, ISU’s Molly Schatz with 220.40 and SIU’s Rachel Williams with 219.35.


  1. Northern Iowa Panthers 1:33.41
  2. Missouri State Bears 1:33.95
  3. Evansville Aces 1:35.17

Was there any doubt that Northern Iowa could put together a solid relay here too?  After putting three in the A-final for the 50 free and rocking the 200 medley relay on Wednesday night, UNI had already gone from being a surprising competitor to an expected champion.  The Panthers’ squad of Crystal Forman (23.49,) Autumn Roepsch (23.46,) Rachel Siebenaller (23.63,) and Molly Lembezeder (22.83) combined to win the event in 1:33.41.  While UNI was able to get ahead and stay there throughout the race, they were under tight pressure the entire way from Missouri State who was right with them until Lembezeder made a slight break-away on the anchor leg.  SIU took fourth place points with 1:35.61, followed by UALR at 1:35.74 and ISU at 1:35.94.

TEAM SCORES (After Day Two):

  1. Southern Illinois 284
  2. Missouri State 281
  3. Northern Iowa 222
  4. Illinois State 149
  5. Evansville 127
  6. Arkansas, Little Rock 121


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