Nov. 18, 2011
HOUSTON - The Owl duo of Quincy Christian and Alex O'Brien finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 400-yard individual medley to lead the Rice swim team on the second day of competition at the U.H. Invitational Friday night across town at the Cougars' Recreation & Wellness Center Natatorium.
With a solid day in individual events and an improved showing in two relay races, Rice moved up a spot in the team standings and is now in seventh place in the 10-team field with 239.5 points. SMU leads the three-day competition with 594 points. New Mexico State is second (358 points), followed by Wyoming (329), host Houston (304.5), Colorado State (294) and Idaho (244). New Mexico (195), the Air Force Academy (127 points) and C-USA foe Tulane (75) round out the final three spots behind Rice.
Though perhaps somewhat disappointed with their showing after the opening day of the meet on Thursday, the Owls were back in business Friday. Christian and O'Brien grabbed two of the top four spots in the 400-IM with a respective pair of new season best times (4:22.57 and 4:24.59). The trio of senior Shelby Bottoms (56.64) and sophomores Chelsea Fong (56.69) and Carter Graves (57.50) all scored for the team in the consolation finals of the 100-butterfly.
Chelsea Fong then came back and placed fifth among a field of 66 entrants in the 200-freestyle after a near-career-best time of 1:50.34 in the morning prelims. True freshman Erin Flanigan won the consolation finals of the event with a Rice-best 1:50.56 that was actually the day's fifth-fastest time overall.
Sophomore Lilly Marrow scored for the Owls in the consolation finals of the 100-breaststroke after a career-best 1:05.32 in the morning prelims. Fellow sophomore Michelle Gean also contributed to Rice's scoring after posting the team's fastest mark of the year in the 100-backstroke (57.22).
Two Rice relays came up big. The Owl foursome of Bottoms, Flanigan, Fong and O'Brien blazed to a 7:25.17 in the 800-freestyle relay that was less than seven-tenths of a second from registering as one of the top five marks in school history. Gean, Marrow, Bottoms and Fong teamed for a new season-best in the 200-medley relay (1:45.18) to take fifth among 29 relay entries.
After a host of new season bests and moving up a spot in the standings, Rice head coach Seth Huston liked what he had seen from the Owls on day two.
"We had a much better day today, and it started with our swims in the morning (prelims) that were head and shoulders better than what we began the meet with," Huston said. "Yesterday the relays were so disappointing and today was the complete opposite. Every relay we had out there, A, B and C, just swam great with our best performances of the year so far. Individually we had a lot of significant drops in our times, starting with how we did in the morning and then carrying that over into (evening) finals.
"We improved our times, but we also raced today and I think that was the main thing," Huston explained. "Quincy and Alex go us going in that 400-IM. We had a lot of people step-up and contribute. We're looking forward to another good day tomorrow."
The full results from the second day of the three-day invitational meet are viewable at the above links. Saturday's final round of action begins with preliminary races at 10 am. Event finals are slated for 6 pm at U.H.