UWF Surges Out to Early Lead After First Day of NSISC Championships
Amaral, Michalak and Pitt all won gold for the Argos on Wednesday
By Brian Henry
CLEVELAND, Miss. – Sophomore Madeline Pitt turned in one of the best performances of her career in winning the 1,000 Freestyle, helping spark the West Florida women’s swimming & diving team to a 100-point lead after the first day of competition in the New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference Championships at the DSU Aquatics Center Wednesday.
UWF leads the 9-team field with 438 points. Host Delta State is in second place with 338 points, followed by St. Cloud State at 310, Minnesota State, Mankato with 294 and Henderson State with 201.
“The whole team did a great job in the night session,” UWF head coach Andrew Hancock said. “We had a bit of a feeling-out session in the morning but they came out and rocked it tonight.
“We won four heats in a row to start the night and won three out of the four event finals. Our depth was really, really good and everyone moved up from the prelims so it’s just what you wanted for a first day.”
Pitt’s swim opened the evening session with a time of 10:14.39 in the 1,000. She led the entire race and pulled away from Delta State’s Melanie Tombers – herself a 7-time All-American – beginning at the 800-yard mark, eventually touching the wall by more than four seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
“That was a big fish she took down today,” Hancock said. “Her swim was so incredibly mature.”
Sophomore Angie Gallastegui won bronze in the event with an NCAA B-cut time of 10:23.54, while junior Rebecca Halfast added to the UWF point total with a sixth place finish in her first-ever time swimming the race in competition.
Junior transfer Theresa Michalak tore through the 200 Individual Medley field with a UWF, meet and pool record time of 1:59.82. Not only was it an NCAA automatic qualifying time, but it established a new top time in the country in the 200 this year.
Senior Paulina Szydlo was fifth in the championship final with Michalak, while the group of Ana de Paula, Nicole Machado, Gabrielle Spangenberg and Pia Hulley all scored for the Argonauts, helping the squad collect 118 points, turning a 15-point deficit after the first event into a 51-point lead.
Senior Peggy de Villiers finished second in the 50 Free and Maria de Paula was 11th as the UWF lead was trimmed three points to 48.
The Argonauts received a big boost in the 3-meter springboard competition when junior Monica Amaral defender her title while also breaking her own school, meet and pool records from a year ago with a 556.30 total. Tonya Kurach, a freshman from Henderson State, made an immediate impact on the league with her runner-up performance of 519.20, while UWF senior Josie McKee joined the duo at the top of the medal stand in third place with a 427.15 score.
“When Monica set those records last year, it was very impressive, so for her to do this tonight was pretty awesome for sure,” Hancock said.
UWF ended the night with a third-place effort in the 200 Medley Relay to finish the night with a 100-point edge.
The meet continues Thursday with the 400 IM, 100 Butterfly, 200 Free, 200 Free Relay and 400 Medley Relay. Preliminaries will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the finals at 5:00 p.m.
Florida Swim Network