The UNLV Rebels have rebooted their Winter Invite since the 2013 edition that featured the Cal, Arizona State, and UCLA women, and shifted the meet back from late November until after the completion of final examinations.
This has scaled back the level of competition a bit, as most of the western United States’ top teams have settled into winter studying and training, and given this meet a very different feel than it had last year.
On day 1 of this meet on Saturday, UNLV dominated the team scoring, though most of the competition in this meet was blowing-away their seed times.
Margaux Verger Gourson from the University of Pacific dropped 9 seconds off of her own seasons-best in the 500 free to win the event in 4:43.07. For the sophomore, that also means that she broke her own School Record by 9 seconds – a record that was just a 5:03 coming into this season.
So fast was this swim for Verger Gourson that her 200 yard split of 1:53.43 was also under the old School Record in that event.
In the women’s 200 IM, it was New Mexico State’s Dorottya Lennert who got the win in 2:04.16, coming-from-behind to jump from fourth to fifth in the last 50 yards. UNLV’s Goezde Tekin took 2nd in 2:04.2.
The UNLV women took control of their home competition in the women’s 50 free with a 1-2 finish from Julia Fehervari and Lena Gavrilova. Fehervari’s 22.80 to win puts her 5th in the Mountain West Conference so far this season.
UNLV ended the session with a two-straight streak, topping the women’s 400 medley in 3:40.19. That included a 1:01.0 breaststroke split from Lina Rathsack and another impressive sprint, a 49.51 anchor, from Fehervari.
Finishing 6th in that relay was Fresno Pacific in 3:48.13 – a particularly notable result because breaststroker Kendall Swanson split 1:00.45 on the breaststroke leg – which as far as we can find is the fastest split in Division II history. She’ll be on watch to go faster than the NCAA Division II Record of 1:00.66 set at NCAA’s last year by Wayne State’s Kayla Scott.
The win in the medley for UNLV bookended their session with victories; they won the 200 free relay to open in 1:31.63 – with three sub-23 splits, plus Fehervari leading off in 23.07.
The UNLV men finished 6th in the NCAA in the 200 free relay last season and graduated only one leg of that relay. While the team was better in this relay at the Missouri Invitational, they continue to shore up that fourth piece in the form of Texas A&M transfer Or Sabatier, who split 19.55 on UNLV’s second leg as they swam a 1:19.58 to win the relay.
The Fresno Pacific men took 2nd in 1:22.28 in that relay, and UNLV checked in again with a 1:22.81 from their B relay.
Fresno Pacific started off the finals session pretty well, and after their runner-up placing in the relay, Wesley Coles took the 500 free in 4:32.11. The Sunbirds are still in their transitional period into Division II, which means no NCAA Championship meet for them this year, but otherwise that’s a time that would be in a position to score in March.
UNLV’s Boris Kulishnikov swam a season-best of 1:51.11 to win the men’s 200 IM after an impressive 31.36 breaststroke split. He beat out teammate Henrique Machado, who took his race out in 50.43 but doesn’t have Kulizhinkov’s same breaststroke prowess. Machado wound up 2nd in 1:52.57.
UNLV’s star Dillon Virva made it back-to-back with a 19.70 in the 50 free. Followed by Or Sabatier (20.08) and Tom Paco-Pedrino (20.59), all three were off of their season-bests, but they did finish in the same order in which they rank as the WAC’s three fastest sprinters this year.
The day wrapped up with another win in the 400 medley relay, and in total a 1-2 finish. Henrique Machado (49.47), Boris Kulizhnikov (55.47), Dillon Virva (47.54), and Or Sabatier (43.28) were the winners on the “A.”
Fresno Pacific took 3rd in 3:23.75.
Full, live meet results available here.
- UNLV – 294
- New Mexico – 210.5
- Pacific – 168.5
- New Mexico State – 168
- Northern Arizona – 124
- Fresno Pacific – 48
- Cal State – East Bay – 40
- UNLV – 399.5
- Pacific – 256
- Fresno Pacific – 201.5
- Whittier College – 122