Youth shines despite WKU swimming’s loss to UK in season-opening meet

Mercedes Trent

It was the newcomers who made their

presence known at WKU’s meet against Kentucky and Vanderbilt

Saturday at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville.   

The women’s team overcame Vanderbilt

but fell to UK, while the men’s team also lost to UK. But WKU still

won 14 out of the total 28 events — several of which were from

freshmen, leaving Head Coach Bruce Marchionda with something

positive to build off of.

“I am extremely pleased with where

we are at this point in the year,” Marchionda said. “We gave UK

everything they can handle. People read it as a loss but it doesn’t

reflect how competitive our kids were.”

The meet was decided with the last

two events — the 3-meter diving and the 400 freestyle relay. UK

pulled ahead in the diving competition, although WKU remained

competitive in the 400 freestyle relay with the men’s team putting

a relay team in first.

The meet marked the first time many

of the freshmen competed in a large dual meet.

“I didn’t know exactly what to

expect,” freshman Seth Musser said. “It was my first dual meet and

it was a learning experience. I’ll get faster in time.”


Musser took first

in the 100 and 200 backstroke and competed as part of the winning

squad in the 400 freestyle relay. He was one of five freshmen

responsible for winning half WKU’s winning


“No matter what class or age you

are, you can still make a difference for your team,” Musser


Freshman Allie Duff won two

individual races — the 100 and 200 backstroke, while freshmen Susan

Marquess, Hannah Runyon-Hass and Loui Little each claimed wins as


Marquess said she’s not disappointed

with the team’s performance. 

“We knew UK would be tough, and they

showed they were there to race,” she said. “It was a great

experience, and the competition made it better. We all learned

where we were as far as our swimming goes.”

Marchionda said the depth of this

year’s team, along with the level shown by the relay victories, is

a necessity for the conference championship. 

The depth extended past the freshman


Senior Stephanie Martin partnered

with Duff in leading the women’s team and won the 100 and 200

breaststroke. She put up a career-best time of 1:04.58 in the 100


Both teams compete again Friday in a

tri-meet against Clemson and Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Marchionda

said he anticipates that the two Atlantic Coast Conference schools

will be as strong as UK.

Marquess said teamwork is the key to

preparing for the competition ahead. 

“We need to keep working together,”

Marquess said. “We get to compete off of each other, and we can

motivate one another. It makes for better competition.”