Seniors Shine As Houston Sweeps All 14 Events Against Rice

Houston vs Rice (W)

  • Wednesday, February 3, 2021
  • Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, Houston, Texas
  • SCY (25y)
  • Results
  • Final Score: Houston 168.5, Rice 91.5

It was a Senior Day to remember for the Houston’s fourth-year swimmers on Wednesday, as the Cougar women put on a dominant performance at home against Rice.

Houston placed first in all 14 events en route to a 168.5-91.5 victory, including eight of the 12 individual victories going to seniors.

Fourth-year swimmers Ioanna Sacha and Mykenzie Leehy, Houston’s two returning swimmers who qualified to compete at the NCAA Championships last season, led the charge with three individual wins apiece.

Sacha, 21, earned a berth at the NCAAs last season in the women’s 200 IM, and won that event handily on Wednesday in a time of 1:59.84, sneaking under the NCAA ‘B’ cut (1:59.94) while narrowly missing her season-best of 1:59.79 set in November. The Greek native holds a best time of 1:57.23 from the 2020 AAC Championships last February.

Sacha also blasted her way to a personal best time in winning the 100 backstroke, breaking 54 seconds for the first time en route to an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 53.40. In the 200 back, she cruised to a win by over five seconds in 1:55.41, three-tenths off her season-best.

Leehy, who qualified for the 2020 NCAAs in the 200 freestyle, swept the 50, 100 and 200 free on Wednesday, including establishing 2020-21 bests in the 50 and 100.

The 22-year-old won the splash n’ dash by almost a full half-second in 22.95, and topped the 100 by over a second in 49.00, hitting a ‘B’ cut. The 100 free was also a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Houston, with fellow senior Katie Power the runner-up in 50.10.

In the 200 free, Leehy pulled away from senior teammate Sam Medlin with a blistering 53.91 back-half to win in 1:46.00. Leehy established her season-best in November at 1:45.33, which marked her second-fastest outing ever, trailing the 1:44.90 she swam at last season’s Conference Championships.

Medlin, who took second in the 200 in 1:49.13, was responsible for another one of the senior wins for Houston in the 500 free, clocking 4:51.55 to lead Rice’s Ellery Parish (4:52.32). That time marked a season-best for Medlin, who owns a PB of 4:47.38 from last February.

The other Cougar senior to earn a victory was 22-year-old Katie Higgins, who narrowly missed both her lifetime (53.67) and season-best times (53.68) to claim the 100 butterfly in 53.71. Higgins managed to hold off a hard-charging Madison Howe from Rice, who touched less than a tenth back for second in 53.80.

Seniors also factored in to both of Houston’s winning relays.

In the opening 200 medley, Sacha gave the squad an early lead with a 25.22 back split before Audrey McKinnon (28.89), Higgins (24.23) and Power (22.14) brought the team in for the victory in 1:40.48. Rice took second in 1:42.15.

The 400 free relay saw fourth-years Leehy (49.34), Medlin (51.28) and Power (49.80) close things out after freshman Laura Garcia Marin (51.42) led off to earn the win in 3:21.84.

Garcia Marin, 18, had an individual win of her own in the 1000 free, clocking 10:01.99 to become the eighth-fastest swimmer in program history. A native of Spain, this was only her second 1000 on record, having previously been 10:23.32 in January against SMU.

McKinnon, a sophomore, won the 200 breaststroke in a time of 2:15.28, followed by the Rice trio of Nicole Limberg (2:17.89), Phillis Range (2:20.02) and Erin Vance (2:20.46).

In the 100 breast, Houston freshman Hannah Farmer (1:02.25) prevailed in a tight race over McKinnon (1:02.42), both hitting personal best times.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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