March 1, 2014
ATLANTA - In what has been a record-setting week for the Tulane University women's swimming and diving program, it was freshman Ellie Sills' turn to scribe her name atop the record book on Saturday as Green Wave wrapped up the 2014 Conference USA Championship with a sixth-place finish at the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center.
Sills broke her own school record in the 200 fly and finished 11th overall in the event with a 2:01.18. The time was 1.69 seconds faster than her previous mark of 2:02.87 established at the Phill Hansel Invitational back on Nov. 23. Sills' record was one of four marks the Green Wave set during the four-day C-USA Championship. Along the way, Tulane swimmers and divers combined to post 22 career-best performances among 35 season-best outings.
"We finished out the meet tonight in great fashion and spirit," first-year Tulane head coach Katie Robinson said. "We set another school record tonight in the 200 fly by Ellie Sills. She had set it earlier this year and despite it being the last individual event of the night, she finished with heart winning the console final and lowering her record by over one and a half seconds. She trained so tough for that race all year long and it is well deserved.
"On the whole, we had a very good performance at this year's C-USA Championship. Having so many new teams and more programs competing this year than previous seasons made for an exciting and challenging meet. It was nowhere near a perfect meet, which I don't believe really exists, but we came out and fought for every point day in and day out. Sometimes we won, sometimes we didn't. It was a roller coaster most days, with many wonderful ups and also moments where we learned how to be better. Our women fought until the end tonight. They were resilient and showed signs of championship character throughout the meet."
The Wave finished with 463 points - 90 points better than their performance of a year ago, the third-highest total by the program in a conference meet and the most since Tulane scored 729 en route to winning the 2005 C-USA crown. Rice successfully defended its title with 1,000 points, followed by FIU with 740, East Carolina with 700, Western Kentucky with 686 and North Texas with 571. Tulane was 24.5 points better than seventh-placed Florida Atlantic (438.5) while Old Dominion (415) and Marshall (328.5) rounded out the field.
Sills was one of three Tulane swimmers to post career-best times in the 200 fly as junior Amy Needham finished 14th with a 2:04.32 and junior Laura Turpen - who finished 20th at 2:09.55 - posted a career-best showing of 2:09.39 during the preliminaries. Needham's finals time, meanwhile, stands as the No. 5 individual mark and the No. 12 overall showing in school history.
Tulane's top finish of the day came in the 100 free where sophomore Mia Schachter capped an outstanding week with a third-place finish courtesy of a 50.05 time. Her 50.02 preliminary mark was not only a career best but also the No. 2 overall and individual time in school history, and was just one one-hundredth of second off of Linda McEachrane's record time of 50.01 set at the 2005 C-USA Championship.
The Green Wave's other Top 10 finish on Saturday came in the final event of the day where sophomore Holly Grender, Sills, freshman Jonna Frantz and Schachter joined forces to clock a season-best 3:27.06 in the 400 free relay. The quartet's time ranks seventh in Tulane history. Earlier in the day, Frantz set a career-best showing in the 100 free with a 52.69 during the preliminaries.
Tulane got things started on Saturday with the 1650 free where freshman Ali Talwar was 18th with a career-best 17:23.68 while sophomores Roni Meyer and Rachel Schneider were 19th and 23rd with times of 17:23.27 and 17:30.55, respectively. Talwar's 1650 time is the No. 9 individual mark in school history, and her 1000 free split stands eighth individually in the Green Wave record book.
From there, attention shifted to platform diving where sophomore Lauren Arnold finished fourth with a 204.90. Her 207.70 during the preliminaries was a season best and ranks as the No. 4 overall score in Tulane history and her finals mark sits fifth. Fellow sophomore Maren Kjell, meanwhile, tallied the 10th-best overall score in the Green Wave annals with a 154.05 during the preliminaries.
Junior Vanessa Loewen led the Tulane effort in the 200 back, finishing second with a 2:03.35. Sophomore Elizabeth Cook was next for the team in the event with a 2:05.52 to finish 19th and Grender was next with a 2:05.79. Grender's 2:03.89 during the 200 back preliminaries was a career-best performance.
Freshman Joy Jason paced the Wave in the 200 breast, finishing 12th with a career-best 2:19.48 - the No. 2 individual and overall time in Tulane history - while her 2:20.00 in the preliminaries was a career best until her finals showing and sits fourth in the Green Wave record book.
"We had a goal of placing fifth on average for all our relays which we were successful in doing," Robinson said. "As coaches, we put them to the test time and time again this year to prepare them for this four-day long championship and it paid off well. Mia's win and both our relays that placed in the top three turned some heads at this championship.
"I am very proud of these women and the heart that they showed in the pool and on the boards. We came away with 11 swimmers and two divers scoring individually and even more as members of our relays. Of those 13, all are returning next year. Next season will be a new challenge within the American Athletic Conference, and if there's one thing I learned this year it's that our team is up for the test with a hungry-for-success attitude."