Posted: Friday, 15 February 2013 9:09PM

Bears Take 78-Point Lead into Final Day at MVC Championships



Carbondale, Il. -- In its quest for a sixth consecutive conference title, the Missouri State women's swimming & diving team will take a 78-point lead into the final day of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championships. On Friday (Feb. 15), the Bears accumulated three more individual champions and a second relay title.

Missouri State's 200 medley relay team of Megan Holthoff, Renata Sander, Roni Balzam and Kate Gately wasted little time in setting the tone for the evening session. The Bears controlled the event from the start and swam away with a two-second victory over Southern Illinois. Their time of 1:42.03 set a new MVC record, wiping out a time previously held by Missouri State's Chelsea Dirks-Ham, Sander, Ali Staufferand Amber Green.

Freshman Dora Kiss captured her second gold medal of the meet with an impressive showing in the 400 IM. With the third fastest time in MVC history (4:22.17), Kiss destroyed the previous school record (4:26.20) and won the event by more than three seconds. In her first A-Final appearance of the weekend, seniorKaylee Steffen improved from her morning time and finished sixth overall (4:30.82) and right behind her was Suzanne Van Rensburg in seventh (4:31.58).

In the 400 IM B-Final, freshman Heather Snyder dropped four seconds from her preliminary time and directed a come-from-behind effort to win the consolation final in 4:33.41.

Sophomore Roni Balzam brought home her 100 fly with the fastest back end of any swimmer and broke the 56-second barrier for the first time in her career. Balzam touched the wall in 55.67 to win silver. Freshman Ibby Simcox finished directly behind Balzam to place third overall. In addition, the Blue Springs, Mo. product broke into the MSU all-time top-five at No. 4 with her time of 56.71. Rounding out the A-Finalists was freshman Rebecca Amparano, who collected 12 points for the Bears with her seventh-place finish.

Missouri State picked up another top-three finish in the 200 free as senior Andrea Uzcategui became just the second MSU swimmer to break 1 minute 50 seconds and finished third overall. Another solid swim awaited junior Hannah Molden as she shaved off .76 seconds and stayed put in fifth. Meanwhile, freshman Carly Wrighttied for first in the consolation final with a time of 1:53.73.

The Bears' breaststroke group of Renata Sander, Melissa Oishi and Alyssa Powers held true to form in the championship final as the top three seeds completed the sweep. Reigning MVC Swimmer of the Year Renata Sander broke a five-year-old MVC and Shea Natatorium record with her time of 1:01.99.

Oishi registered the fourth-fastest time in MVC history (1:02.81) to finish second, while Powers shaved off another half of second from her personal best to go 1:03.84.

For the third consecutive year, junior 
Anna Ahlin was crowned conference champion in the 100 back, winning with a time of 55.02. The new career best for Ahlin gives the Bears their second NCAA `B' cut of the season. Helping the Bears collect 65 total points in the event, Megan Holthoff (56.74), Janke Engelbrecht (56.82) andEmily Chesser (57.44) rounded out the top five in third, fourth and fifth place.

Unable to overcome Illinois State's record-breaking performance in the 800 free relay, the Bears' quartet of Kiss, Molden, Ahlin and Uzcategui settled for a runner-up finish and a time of 7:30.80.

The final day of competition at the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium will begin with prelims at 10 a.m. CST, followed by finals at 4 p.m. Follow @MissouriStBears on Twitter for live updates, as well as a live video stream provided at Valley-Live.tv.

Team Standings - After Day 2
Missouri State - 593
Illinois State - 515
Southern Illinois - 440
Evansville - 318
Northern Iowa – 185

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