BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The Western Kentucky University swimming teams ended the regular season on a high note with a road sweep of Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Dr. Edward J. Shae Natatorium in Carbondale, Ill.
The Lady Toppers claimed a 181.5-116.5 victory over SIU to improve to 10-1 while the Hilltoppers earned a 176-124 win against the Salukis and finish the regular season with an 8-1 record.
"It was a great day for the Toppers," WKU coach Bruce Marchionda said. "Both teams were able to get up and race well. Some of the things that we've been working on in practice really paid off. We won a lot of the close races today, which was a nice thing to see. Our depth was a little bit too much for them to handle and we were able to come away with both victories."
Depth once again proved to be the strength for both the men's and women's teams as nine different individuals won 15 different events led by freshman Seth Musser with three events wins along with Stephanie Martin, Luke Musser, Heitor Rodrigues and Allie Duff who each turned in two event wins. Junior Hilary Mishler, senior Kristiana Feeser and freshman Paige Drazga each won events for the Lady Toppers while junior David Rayner added a win for the Hilltoppers. Of those who tallied individual wins, four are either freshmen or in their first year on the hill. Marchionda credits the work of assistant coaches Brian Thomas and Danielle Grobmyer for the development of the younger swimmers.
Musser led the way on the men's side, sweeping the 100-yard and 200 backstroke events along with the 200 individual medley. The Overland Park, Kan., native touched in at 49.12 seconds to win the 100 backstroke and finished first in the 200 back with a time of 1:48.65. He closed the meet with a victory in the 200 IM in 1:51.03. Luke Musser and Rodrigues also swept both distances in their respective events. Musser claimed the 100 breast in 57.90 while posting a time of 2:06.70 to win the 200 breast. Rodrigues touched in at 1:50.46 in the 200 butterfly and won the 100 fly with a time of 57.27.
"(Seth) just continues to perform at a very high level for a freshman and we are very excited to see what he can do in three-and-a-half weeks," Marchionda said. "He is a great competitor and he works really hard so we are excited to see what we can do."
In the men's 500 free, Rayner posted a time of 4:41.19 to win the event. Freshman Loui Little finished runner-up to Rayner with a mark of 4:41.92. Little was the top finisher for the Hilltoppers in the 1,000 freestyle while Rayner turned in the best performance in the 200 free.
Martin and Duff led the way on the women's side. Martin picked up a win in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.72 before adding a win in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:17.56. Freshman Claire Conlon turned in runner-up performances in both events, finishing in 1:04.83 and 2:21.35, respectively.
The Lady Toppers finished 1-2-3 in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events. Mishler earned the top spot in the 100 back with a time of 55.78. Duff placed second (57.45) followed by junior Alex Van Oost (58.21) in third. In the 200 backstroke, it was Duff leading the way with a time of 2:00.69. Van Oost took the runner-up spot with a time of 2:02.23 with classmate Laurel Chaney (2:05.13) in third.
Duff added her second event win with a first-place finish in the 200 IM. The Ontario, Canada native won the event with a time of 2:04.86. Freshman Hannah Runyon-Hass placed second with a mark of 2:06.43. Runyon-Hass also finished runner-up in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.32.
Other individual Lady Topper victories included Drazga in the 50 free (24.26) and Feeser in the 100 butterfly (57.27).
Junior Billy Kunkel was the top finisher for the Hilltoppers in the 100 free event with a time of 46.10. He also finished second in the 50 free in 20.98.
Both teams started off the meet with first-place finishes in the 200 medley relay. For the women, the quarter of Duff, Conlon, Feeser and Drazga touched in at 1:45.51 to claim first followed by Mishler, Martin, Susan Marquess and Georgia Smith at 1:47.21 in second. For the Hilltoppers, Seth Musser, Luke Musser, Rodrigues and Kunkel touched in at 1:31.05 for the win. The teams repeated the results in the 400 freestyle relay to close out the meet. Misher, Feeser, Smith and Marquess posted a time of 3:32.12 to pick up the win for the Lady Toppers while Rodrigues, Kunkel, Drew Cato and Jordan Vorst won with a time of 3:04.36.
"We knew that the first relays were going to be very important in winning both meets and the girls came out and went 1-2 in the 200 medley, which was by design," Marchionda said. "We moved a few people around to try to take advantage of doing that and set the tone for the meet. The guys came out and won that relay and that was a great start."
WKU now awaits the 2012 Swimming and Diving Championships in Rockwall, Texas, Feb. 22-25 at the Rockwall Aquatics Center of Excellence. Both the men's and women's teams finished runner-up at last year's event and will look to bring the championship back to Bowling Green.
"They did really well," Marchionda said. "We are really pleased with where they are right now and hopefully this will give them a little bit of confidence going into the conference championship meet."
For complete results and a recap of all the events from the championship, please visit WKUSports.com.