Lady Toppers bring back gold in SBC swimming tournament

Laura Beranek

The Lady Topper swimming and diving team came back from Texas with some new hardware at Sun Belt Conference title this weekend.

The team bested second-place North Texas in dramatic fashion, storming through the last three events of the tournament on Saturday to take the lead and secure WKU’s ninth SBC title since 2001.

“It sounds very cliché, but this was one time when it was a total team effort,” coach Bruce Marchionda said. “Everyone contributed – we really used our depth.”

The Lady Toppers finished the four-day event with a total of 853 points, accumulated in part by efforts from senior Laurel Chaney, who broke two of her own personal records at the tournament.

“We’re all on Cloud Nine,” said Chaney after the trip back to Bowling Green. “We really had to fight for it. It feels good to work together as a team to get to the common goal.”

The WKU men’s swimming and diving team took home second place at the Conference-USA championship last weekend.

Four Lady Toppers earned a spot in the finals of the 200 backstroke, with three posting NCAA qualifying times.

Sophomore Allie Duff, senior Hilary Mishler and senior Alex Van Oost earned the B-cut time, while Duff recorded a school best at 1:55.94.

The NCAA National Championship will take place in Indianapolis beginning March 21. The results of the submitted bid times will be released within the week to determine eligible athletes for the postseason competition.

Marchionda, the SBC co-Coach of the Year, said his squads will take in a couple days of light workouts to rest before the tournament and will continue mentally preparing as well.

“I always tell them that great moments come from great opportunities,” he said. “That’s what the girls did this weekend. They created opportunity. They had to earn it.”

Duff, Mishler, sophomore Claire Conlon, freshman Michelle Craddock, junior Asite Dobrovolskaite, and sophomore Paige Drazga all earned first team all-conference positions after the regular season performances.

“We’ve had the motto ‘all In’ this year,” Chaney said. “And that’s what we did – we stepped up. The whole team, we all did what we could.”