Posted: Saturday, 16 February 2013 6:59PM

Bears Positioned for Strong Finish at MVC Championships

Carbondale, Il. -- As the fatigue is beginning to kick in with most teams, the Missouri State swimming & diving team continues to crank out some of its best swims yet. In all, the Bears qualified 14 swimmers for the A-Finals, to go along with Lindsey Conway in the 3-meter final and a pair of swimmers in the top heat of the 1650 free.

After two days of competition, the Bears hold a steady, 78-point lead over second-place Illinois State. Saturday's final session begins at 4 p.m. CST and will again be streamed online at Follow @MissouriStBears on Twitter for live updates from the Dr. Edward J. Shea Natatorium.

In the first event on Saturday (Feb. 16), the Bears qualified all four swimmers into the 200 back championship final. Two-time defending champion 
Anna Ahlin made a statement in the prelims finishing nearly four seconds ahead of the closest competitor. At 1:59.83, Ahlin is primed to make another run at the 200 back title. The Bears joining her in the finals heat will be Emily Chesser (2:04.15), Megan Holthoff (2:04.59) and Kaylee Steffen (2:04.95) as the Nos. 5, 6 and 8 seeds. Only 1.33 seconds separates second through eighth place.

The 100-yard freestyle provided some excitement as there was a three-way tie for eighth place, the final spot in the championship heat. At the end of the session, Missouri State junior Hannah Molden competed in a swim-off that was won by SIU's Rachael Barry. Molden and fellow junior Janke Engelbrecht will represent MSU in the consolation final. Meanwhile, Bear sprinters Kate Gately (51.70) and Andrea Uzcategui (51.71) secured the No. 3 and 4 seed for the finals this evening. 

MSU once again showed its prowess in the breaststroke events, this time posting the four fastest times in the 200 breast prelims. Defending champion Renata Sander led the way with a 2:17.66, followed by senior Melissa Oishi (2:18.26), sophomore Alyssa Powers (2:18.53) and freshman Olivia Gean (2:18.88). The group as a whole was more than three seconds faster than the rest of the field.

The Bears finished off the morning session with the 200 fly. For the third time on Saturday, the Missouri State women placed all four of its swimmers into the championship finals. Illinois State's Jeanette Nolte, the 2013 MVC champion in the 100 fly, posted the morning's fastest time (2:02.05). 

Aiming for her third individual title, Bears' freshman Dora Kiss is just a half second behind Nolte at 2:02.58, while sophomore Roni Balzam enters this evening as the No. 3 seed (2:03.73). Rounding out Missouri State's finalists are freshmen Ibby Simcox (2:04.38) and Rebecca Amparano (2:04.87) in fifth and seventh, respectively.

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Ava 9, Mt. Grove 8

Ava won the battle of SCA unbeatens with a walk-off sac fly.

Pictures: Southwest 10, Purdy 8

Southwest claims the Ozark 7 championship.

Pictures: Central vs. Glendale tennis

The Falcons and Bulldogs met at Cooper on Wednesday.
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