Dec. 17, 2012
SAN ANTONIO - Sophomore Casey Clark won two individual events and swam the lead leg on a winning Rice relay that set a new school record on the final day of action Monday evening at the Incarnate Word Invitational swim meet in San Antonio.
Rice moved up to finish third in the final team standings with 1,689.5 points. North Texas won the meet with 1911 points and TCU was second (1,810). Meet host Incarnate Word placed fourth (961) and Missouri State was fifth (523.5).
After breaking her own school record to win the 100-yard butterfly on Sunday with a time of 53.31, Clark closed out the three-day Invitational Monday with some more eye-opening performances. The Owl standout won the 100-freestyle with a time of 49.99 that provisionally qualified her for the 2013 NCAA Championships later in the spring. Not only is the mark is the second-fastest in school history, it is the best by an Owl in the last ten years. Clark led a 1-2 Rice finish in the 100-free with teammate Karina Wlostowska, who was second in the field of 38 entries with a 50.26 for the third-fastest time in school history. The Owls captured five of the top nine spots in the 100-free as Chelsea Fong was fifth (51.36), Cora McKenzie was seventh (51.63) and Marissa Konicke won the event's consolation finals (ninth with 51.42).
Four sprinters from that 100-free (Clark, Fong, Konicke and Wlostowska) later teamed for an Owl victory in the 4x100 free relay. The group won the event with a new school record time of 3:21.16, breaking the previous mark set back in 2009.
Clark already had an individual win with an NCAA provisional time before returning to win the 200-butterfly. The native of Spring, Tex., posted a time of 1:59.61 for the victory that was just two one-hundredths of a second from the NCAA provisional standard, but she became only the second Owl in school history to go under two-minutes in the 200-butterfly. Sophomore Erin Flanigan also scored for the Blue & Gray in the race with a steady 2:01.24 for fourth place.
Michelle Gean and Flanigan were third and fourth, respectively, in the 200-backstroke with season-bests 2:02.58 and a 2:02.74. Senior Kylee Talwar finished fifth in the 200-breaststroke after a season-best 2:21.44 in the morning prelims. The Blue & Gray finished the three-day meet strong, and that was fine with Rice head coach Seth Huston.
"We came to this meet expecting to be at our fastest of the season and I think we accomplished that," said coach Huston, now in his eleventh season at the helm of the program. "I don't think we've been this fast at this point of the season, setting school records with other top-five times like we had this weekend, since I've been at Rice.
"Casey had a couple of awesome swims," coach Huston added. "She wasn't the only one. Up and down the roster, the girls stepped-up and raced. To do that at this time year is big. It's only December, and it's exciting to think how fast we could be by the conference championships (in February)."
The Rice swim next takes a break for the Holidays, but returns to action soon after the New Year. The Owls compete in Florida at the University of Tampa Relays on Jan. 5.