ROCKWALL, Texas- For the fourth year in a row, the Mean Green won bronze at the Sun Belt Conference Championships. During the four-day span, North Texas broke 18 school records, clocked 15 NCAA "B" cuts, and collected four gold medals, six silvers, and five bronzes.
North Texas finished the meet in third place with 667 total points, trailing second placed Western Kentucky's 704.5 and conference champion Denver with 820.5.
The Mean Green went into the championships ranked seventh among mid-majors (CollegeSwimming.com), tying the highest poll ranking in program history. North Texas sits behind Denver in fifth place and ahead of Western Kentucky at 19th.
During Saturday's races, North Texas broke a school record in every event. The Mean Green accumulated a gold (200 breast), three silvers (1650 free, 200 fly, 400 free relay) and a bronze (1650 free) medal.
In the final event of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Championships, the Mean Green's 400 free relay team (Ploetz, Rossum, Gentile, Weickgenant) cashed in at 3:24.47, ending the conference meet with a silver medal and NCAA B cut time. The relay team's final time beat out the school record time by 3.2 seconds (3:27.67).
Becca Ploetz's opening leg split of 51.25 in the relay crawled up to the fourth fastest time in program history. Ploetz also claimed the top program spot in the 100 free earlier in the day with a 51.10.
Catia Weickgenant continued the evening ritual in the 200 fly, breaking the school record in the race. Weickgenant won the silver medal surpassing her own record (2:00.51) in 1:59.65 and received a NCAA B cut consideration. Bryn Lewis included a fourth place finish and personal best 2:03.30 in the 200 fly.
Freshman Krista Rossum tapped out 0.18 seconds faster than the top North Texas time in the 200 breast. Rossum produced a gold medal for the Mean Green and a NCAA "B" cut time in the race. She beat Western Kentucky's Stephanie Martin by 0.13 seconds to claim the top spot on the podium for the 200 breast.
In the 200 back, Mona Groteguth swam a school record 1:58.80. Groteguth's NCAA "B" cut time won the consolation heat and would have finished in fourth place in the finals heat. The freshman compiled four school records, two NCAA "B" cuts, one gold and a bronze medal during the conference championships.
Kenzie Calkins demolished her 1650 free time by over 20 seconds clocking in at 17:01.30. Three heats later, Hiliary Riedmann and Kimmy Phillips went two-three in the race, landing a bronze and silver medal for North Texas. Riedmann would set two school records in only a matter of minutes. Her 1000 split (10:00.14) in the race topped the program's fastest time by half a second and finished the race in 16:32.77, four seconds quicker than the program's best time. Phillips would slim 18 seconds off her quickest time ending the race in 16:40.45.
During the early morning's prelims, Krista Rossum dethroned another program best and claimed the top spot in the books with a 2:14.72 in the 200 breast. Rossum's NCAA "B" cut time missed the first place finish behind Denver by .06 seconds.
Junior Becca Ploetz replaced the three-year old 100 free school record (51.16) set back in February 2009 by former swimmer Nicole Leslie. Ploetz carved her name into the record books after chipping away 0.06 seconds off Leslie's time and finishing in 51.10 seconds during prelims.
Mona Groteguth (200 back), Sarida Muslow (200 breast), Danae Welch (200 breast), Stephanie Bernier (200 back), Bryn Lewis (200 fly), Chloe Tong (200 breast), and Kenzie Calkins (200 fly) would also swim their fastest career times during prelims.
Friday ended on a high note for North Texas, starting with Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Taylor on the one-meter board. Johnson and Taylor placed second and fourth in the one-meter diving finals. Johnson's dives would earn the sophomore her second silver medal of the meet.
North Texas would then win back-to-back medals after winning gold in the 400 Medley relay (3:41.25) with a narrow finish over Western Kentucky. This was the first relay victory for the Mean Green at Sun Belt Championships since the program's existence in 1998. Composed of Mona Groteguth, Krista Rossum, Rosa Gentile, and Catia Weickgenant, the Mean Green relay team cut over four and a half seconds off the school record set in December (3:45.90) and qualified as a NCAA "B" cut.
Groteguth's 100 back split (55.17) created her third school record and personal best time in the race for the third time in a handful of hours. Her record split also makes her a NCAA "B" cut qualifier.
With a silver and gold won in a matter of minutes, North Texas closed the gap with Western Kentucky in a battle for second place. The Hilltoppers led the Mean Green 491.5 to 483 with Denver leading the pack after racking up 571.5 total points.
In the morning preliminary races, North Texas sent 16 of its 20 swimmers to the evening events. Out of the six early morning events, seven personal records created, two program best times broken, and one NCAA B cut time registered.
Halfway through the Championships, the Mean Green accumulated 234 points, trailing Denver (275) and Western Kentucky (256).
On Thursday night, North Texas (Gentile, Rossum, Ploetz, Pope) grabbed a bronze medal in the 200 free relay swimming in 1:33.91 and jolted up the record books to the second fastest time in program history.
Krista Rossum swam a program best and NCAA "B" cut time 2:00.65 in the 200 IM. The fourth place-finishing freshman has broken the 200 IM school record three times this season.
Catia Weickgenant was crowned the 500 free champion and NCAA "B" cut qualifier after setting a new Sun Belt Conference and meet record in 4:47.01, topping her SBC record of 4:48.89 set in December. Hiliary Riedmann and Kimmy Phillips clocked new personal best times in the 500 free at 4:48.84 and 4:51.44. Riedmann, who took the remaining spot on the podium earning a bronze medal, would have owned the fastest SBC and meet time if Weickgenant had not been racing. With a one, three, five finish, North Texas extended its lead over second place Denver 167-140.
Riedmann won the 500 free prelims in 4:49.73, less than one second off the Sun Belt record set earlier this season by Catia Weickgenant (4:48.89). The senior chopped off over five seconds off her personal best in the 500 free, surpassing her 4:54.81 swam at the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Championships. All five North Texas swimmers qualified for the finals.
Wednesday morning opened the first day of the Sun Belt Conference Championships. The 800 free relay consisting of Catia Weickgenant, Kimmy Phillips, Becca Ploetz, and Krista Rossum sliced though the water finishing in 7:19.00, a North Texas record and NCAA "B" Cut qualifying time. The Mean Green knocked off almost three seconds off the school record, jumping past the previous time of 7:21.90.
"We beat the school record by 2.8 seconds, a NCAA "B" cut in one heck of a heat that all six went a new school record and five of the six made the NCAA consideration cut. Most conferences only have one school make the cut," said Dykstra.
On the three-meter board finals, Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Taylor collected a second and fourth place finish respectively, scoring a 273.00 and 257.90. North Texas was able to score all six divers entered into the event, pushing the Mean Green into first place 80-61 after two events.
Rebecca Taylor opened the conference championships by setting a new school record during prelims on the three-meter dive, scoring a 304.45 and finished only 0.35 points away from the Sun Belt Championships record. The sophomore has scored three new school records on the three-meter board this season and passes her previous grade of 298.13 set last January against UALR.
Results from the meet are located HERE.