BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The Western Kentucky University swimming and diving teams broke four pool and freshman Hannah Runyon-Hass set a school record in the 400 individual medley to highlight the second day of the Hilltopper Invitational at Bill Powell Natatorium.
"I think we had a little bit of a shaky start this morning in preliminaries but then we sat down and got refocused and did an awesome job tonight," WKU coach Bruce Marchionda said. "We had a number of swimmers that went lifetime bests and for this time of the year and as beat up as they are, I thought they did a phenomenal job.
"I think top to bottom we are well ahead of where we were last year and so that makes us as a staff feel pretty good."
Runyon-Hass touched in at 4 minutes, 16.21 second in the finals of the 400 IM to set both a school and pool record and represented an NCAA provisional qualifying time. The Franklin, Tenn., native broke the previous record set by current Lady Topper Alex Van Oost last season by almost four seconds. Classmate Allie Duff (4:22.26) and Van Oost (4:26.55) helped WKU claim the top three spots in the event as they finished second and third, respectively.
"We are looking at (Runyon-Hass) to realistically now where she is to be an NCAA qualifier," Marchionda said. "We have a handful of girls that could end up being at the national championships for us and she obviously is one of them with times already that are very close to what it took to go last year."
Freshman Loui Little also set a pool record with a first-place finish in the men's 400 IM, stopping the clock at 3:58.93. Sophomore Sam Dalton touched in second with a time of 4:01.48 followed by newcomer Seth Musser in third with a mark of 4:03.54.
WKU closed out the meet with a sweep of the 800 freestyle relay events. The Lady Topper relay team of Susan Marquess, Georgia Smith, Runyon-Hass and Van Oost placed first with a pool-record time of 7:30.37. The Hilltopper quartet of Adam Dajka, Seth Musser, David Rayner and Billy Kunkel touched in at 6:43.14 to set a pool record and take the top position.
The Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers also turned in sweeps of the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke events. In the women's 100 fly, senior Krisitana Feeser placed first with a time of 55.16 with freshman Susan Marquess on her heels in 56.45 to finish second. The Hilltoppers claimed five of the top six spots in the 100 butterfly led by sophomore Heitor Rodrigues with a time of 49.41 in the event. Kevin Knezevich (49.58) took second with Drew Cato (50.96), Jordan Vorst (51.48) and Tyler Groneck (51.94) filling out places fourth through six.
"One of the big gaps that we have is in the butterfly with the graduation of Claire Donahue and so we are putting a lot of pressure on Kristiana to fill the spot for the relays and the 100 fly," Marchionda said. "She took a really big step forward and had a great swim in the 100 fly and she is responding to that challenge of trying to fill that void that we lost in Claire."
Newcomer Claire Conlon and senior Stephanie Martin finished 1-2 in the 100 breaststroke event. Conlon took first with a time of 1:04.75 while Martin touched in at 1:05.14 to take second. Kunkel posted a time of 56.07 in the 100 breast as the Hilltoppers again took five of the top six places.
Freshman Samantha Holmes was the top finisher for the Lady Toppers in the 200 freestyle, placing fifth with a time of 1:57.16. Sophomore Elliott Lorson finished runner-up in the 200 free after stopping the clock in 1:42.96.
WKU continued to dominate the relay events with a pair of wins in the 200 medley relays to open the finals session Saturday night. Lady Toppers Hilary Mishler, Conlon, Feeser and Paige Drazga stopped the clock in 1:45.46 to place first while the men looked to Musser, Ben Nichols, Rodrigues and Kunkel to capture the top spot with a time of 1:30.84.
Results from the women's 1-meter and men's 3-meter diving events will be available following the conclusion of the meet on Sunday.
The Lady Toppers remain atop the team standings at the end of the second day with 1,113 points. Vanderbilt is second with 866 points. WKU also continues to lead the men's competition with a total of 1,231 points. Evansville is in second with 791 points.
Sunday begins with preliminaries in the 200 backstroke at 9:30 a.m. followed by the 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly. The finals session begins at 4:30 p.m. and will feature the 1,650 freestyle along with the 400 freestyle relay.
"Again I think each day gets a little bit tougher to again get up physically and mentally," Marchionda said. "They are going to be pretty exhausted tomorrow and we are expecting them to get up and race and be competitive and again continue to do things that we want them to do, so this will be a pretty big mental challenge for them."
For complete results and a recap of Sunday's action, please visit WKUSports.com.