CLEVELAND, Miss. – The West Florida women’s swimming & diving team got two outstanding swims from junior Theresa Michalak and picked up seven medals to maintain the team lead for the third-consecutive day in the New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference Championships at the DSU Aquatics Center Friday.
UWF leads the 9-team field with 1,257 points. Host Delta State is in second place with 1,213 points, followed by St. Cloud State at 1,003, Minnesota State, Mankato with 861 and Minnesota State, Morehead with 711.
“The girls did a nice job of coming out and doing what we had to do tonight, and we still hold the lead,” UWF head coach Andrew Hancock said. “We’d prefer to hold a bigger lead, but sometimes you need to really earn what you want and they have a chance to go out and do that Saturday.”
The Argos started the evening session with the 500 Freestyle, where sophomores Madeline Pitt and Angie Gallastegui won silver and bronze, respectively. Both athletes shaved more than three seconds off their prelim times to post season-low NCAA ‘B’ cuts.
Freshman Pia Hulley and sophomore Nicole Machado were the top two finishers in the consolation final of the 100 Backstroke.
In the 100 Breaststroke, senior Paulina Szydlo won bronze as she recorded the third-fastest time in school history and a career best with a B-cut 1:04.72. Sophomore Gabrielle Spangenberg added another top-5 finish to her slate with a fifth-place performance.
Michalak checked-off another meet and school record, this time in the 200 Butterfly, as she completed the course in 2:02.05. She completed the opening 50 in 26.98 before touching with the ninth-fastest time in the country and a margin of victory of just over three seconds.
“It’s not an event she was really prepared to swim but we made the decision yesterday to do that, and she’s sacrificing for the team, and we’re incredibly thankful for that,” Hancock said.
The action turned to the diving well for the 1-Meter finals as the UWF trio of junior Monica Amaral, senior Josie McKee and freshman Marissa Constantakos combined to score 75 points, stretching the Argos’ lead to 36 points. Amaral won her second medal of the week, placing second with a 511.10 total.
The Argos closed the night with a dramatic, come-from-behind win in the 800 Free Relay. The quartet of Rebecca Halfast, Peggy de Villiers, Danica Burnett and Michalak bested the school record with a 7:28.91 time, outracing Delta State by 1.17 seconds at the wall. Michalak’s anchor leg of 1:49.41 pushed UWF into the lead after St. Cloud State made the 3-4 exchange with a .27 lead over the Argos and .44 over the Lady Statesmen.
“For Theresa to come back and help that 800 Free Relay was one of the toughest things I’ve seen in a long, long time – to do that double,” Hancock added. “She’s one of the best in the country and we couldn’t be more proud to have her with us.
“We are excited for Saturday and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The meet concludes on Saturday with the 1650 Free, 100 Individual Medley, 100 Free, 200 Back, 200 Breast and 400 Free Relay. Preliminaries will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the finals at 4:00 p.m.