Missouri State swimming and diving carried a huge lead throughout the Tunica Invitational and both the men and women win their meets. This is the third consecutive year that the Bears have won the Tunica Invitational
The meet started with the 800-yard freestyle relay. Both the men and women generally excel in the relay events and continued to impress in this event. The women’s team of freshman Hannah Molden, junior Dimitra Drakopoulou, junior Katie Lindeman and junior Brianna Willoughby won their race with a time of 7:56.90. The men’s squad of junior Tom Bullock, sophomore Nick Carter, freshman Jake Coleman and junior Bryson Cramer finished at 7:09.67. Both teams won their events.
Later in the first day, the Bears also won the 200-yard freestyle relays. The women sent out sophomore Amber Green, Willoughby, freshman Janke Engelbrecht and sophomore Ali Stauffer for a time of 1:37.69. The men used junior Jeff Bentz, senior Dillon Burns, Carter and sophomore Jacob Sims touched the wall at 1:25.94.
In the individual swimming events of the first day, MSU was very strong. A Bear swimmer finished either first or in the top five in every event on the day. In his first ever collegiate meet, freshman Yuri Garanito won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:55.43. In fact, MSU went 1-2-3 in the event with sophomore Aaron Henry finishing second at 1:55.44 and Cramer at third with a time of 1:57.83. For the women, Green continued to dazzle with an impressive 51.67 in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing first.
To finish the first day, the teams competed in the 400-yard medley relay. The women won the event to go three-for-three in the relay events thus far. Engelbrecht, sophomore Melissa Oishi, Green and Stauffer came in at 4:06.20. The men, however, narrowly lost out on the relay sweep, finishing second to Eastern Illinois in the 400-yard medley relay. Henry, senior Chris Novak, Bentz and Burns finished at 3:34.80.
In the final day of competition, the Bears continued to dominate the competition. The first event was the 200-yard medley relay. The women kept their streak alive by winning their fourth relay event of the day. Senior Chelsea Dirks-Ham, Oishi, Green and Stauffer finished at 1:49.27. The men’s quad of Henry, Novak, Bentz and Burns finished second with a time of 1:37.45.
Next up was the 400-yard individual medley. This event was a very strong for the Bears at the meet, as the women’s duo of Willoughby (4:36.43) and sophomore Kaylee Steffen (4:46.63) finished first and third. The men went 1-2-3-4 with sophomore Daan Jansen (4:08.90), Novak (4:14.23), freshman Colin Hill (4:14.69) and sophomore Waldo Broodryk (4:18.48). The men only swam four in the event.
The 50-yard freestyle is one of MSU’s top events. For the women, Green won with a time of 23.86. Reigning Mid-American Conference Swimmer of the Week Jeff Bentz excelled with his time of 21.77, earning another first-place finish for the Bears.
To finish the meet, the squads swam in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The women completed the sweep, winning all relay events on the day after Engelbrecht, Drakopoulou, Molden and Green touched the wall at 3:38.51, a full six seconds ahead of the field. The men’s group of Bentz, Carter, Sims and Burns rebounded from tough losses in the medley relays with a nail-biter in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Their time of 3:12.50 was only .3 seconds ahead of the second-place finishers.
Missouri State men and women both won by large margins. The women’s point total of 1121.5 was an astounding 457 points ahead of the next team on the leaderboard. The men’s meet was closer, but the Bears still racked up a 240 point margin of victory.
Next up for the Bears is Senior Night at Hammons Pool on Jan. 15 at 2:00 p.m. Missouri State will take on Truman State. This will be the second matchup of the two squads. The first meeting resulted in a MSU sweep in Kirksville.