Rice junior Marie-Claire Schillinger broke her own school record in winning the 200-yard breaststroke and the Owls closed out the three-day Phill Hansel Invitational swim meet with a convincing win in the 400-freestyle relay Sunday evening across town at the University of Houston Rec Center Natatorium.
After a full program of 18 swimming and three diving events the Owls finished second in the meet’s team scoring with 1,214 points. Host Houston won the meet with 1,392.5 points. UC-Davis was third with 841 points while Colorado State was fourth in the eleven team field with 796.
After a narrowly missing a win in Saturday’s 100-breaststroke by two one-hundredth’s of a second (.02), Schillinger made sure to claim the 200-yard event on Sunday. In morning prelims the native of Orinda, Calif., secured the No. 1 seed for evening finals by a full second-and-half with a steady 2:13.24. She then dominated the A Final by almost three full seconds with an eye-opening time of 2:11.67, breaking her own Rice record and provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the event next spring.
“M.C.'s 200 today was textbook,” said Rice head swim coach Seth Huston, now in his 15th year at the helm of the program. “It was a great meet overall. The team was very competitive.”
Other individual highlights Sunday included junior Lauren Rhodes’ third place finish among a starting field of more than 80 competitors in the 100-freestyle with a season-best mark of 50.86. Junior Kiley Beall was fourth in the 200-butterfly with a season-best 2:01.72. Sophomore Hanna Huston swam a 16:37.11 to lead a 3-4-5 Rice finish in the mile with Claire Therien (16:41.20) and Sarah Nowaski (16:41.75).
The Owls saved some of their very best racing for last, closing out the long weekend of events by winning the 400-freestyle relay. The Rice foursome of Alicia Caldwell, Lauren Rhodes, Harper Gillentine and Jaecey Parham blazed to a win with a season-best mark of 3:22.27. Finishing the evening session with a win was the kind improvement coach Huston wanted to see after today’s prelims.
“We were pretty flat this morning,” Huston explained, “and can't let that happen again. We came back this evening with some great miles from Sarah, Claire and Hanna, and our 400-free relay really swam a great race to finish out the meet with another victory. We were great racers all weekend.”