Liberty returns home to the Liberty Natatorium to host a tri-meet against Marshall and UNC Asheville, Saturday at 11 a.m.
Saturday's meet will feature dual-meet scoring. Each team will score points against each other team, resulting in Liberty-UNC Asheville, Liberty-Marshall and Marshall-UNC Asheville matchups.
This will be the second meet in Liberty Natatorium history, as the facility opened with the Central Virginia Duals, Dec. 1-2. The natatorium features bowl seating, an Olympic-sized pool with a separate diving well, and an expansive video board, among other amenities.
Liberty is 2-0 all-time against UNC Asheville, including a home win over the Bulldogs, Jan. 16-17, 2016. The Lady Flames defeated UNC Asheville, 153-104, Jan. 14, 2017 at Asheville, N.C. Liberty also holds a 2-0 all-time mark versus Marshall, with wins over the Thundering Herd Oct. 22, 2011 in Huntington, W.Va., and Jan. 26, 2013 in Lynchburg.
So far this season, Liberty holds a 6-2 record, including 4-0 against CCSA opponents. The Lady Flames nearly knocked off defending Big 12 runner-up Kansas and have picked up conference wins over Campbell (twice), Gardner-Webb and Georgia Southern.
Weekly Honors Junior Amy Schools was named CCSA Women's Diver of the Week on Oct. 10 and again on Dec. 5. Schools is the fourth Lady Flame to earn CCSA Diver of the Week honors, and first since teammate Jenna Joyal, Oct. 11, 2016.
Liberty opened its brand-new Liberty Natatorium, Dec. 1-2, with the Central Virginia Duals. The Lady Flames defeated Campbell, 237-94, winning 12 out of 13 individual events on the weekend.
Most recently, Liberty placed second at the FGCU Triple Distance Classic, last Friday in Fort Myers, Fla. For the meet, the Lady Flames won seven individual events and one relay. Liberty got three wins from senior Prudence Rooker (50 breaststroke, 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke), and two from junior Alicia Finnigan (50 fly, 100 fly). Finnigan was named the meet's butterfly triple-distance champion, while Rooker was named the meet's breaststroke champion. Hannah Baker won the 200 free, while Brittany Weiss claimed victory in the 100 backstroke.
Finnigan led the way for Liberty with three individual-event wins (200 fly, 500 free, 1000 free) at the Central Virginia Duals. She swam a season-best 2:02.09 to win the 200 fly. Finnigan won the 200 fly at the 2017 conference meet, before setting a conference record, with a time of 1:56.15 at the Bulldog Last Chance Meet to qualify for the NCAA Championships. She then tied for 10th place in the 200-meter butterfly at the Phillips 66 National Championships in the summer.
Rooker won both the 200 IM and 200 breaststroke at the Central Virginia Duals, with her 2:06.32 being the fastest 200 IM by a Lady Flame this season. Rooker is a five-time podium finisher at the conference level, including three medal performances in 2017. Last season, she placed second at the CCSA Championships in the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. Rooker swam B cuts in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
Starting last season, Rachel Hoeve has been dominant in the 50 free, going undefeated in dual meets. She has won the event 11 straight times in dual-meet action, including a season-best 23.30 on Dec. 1. She made three A Finals appearances at the 2017 CCSA Championships, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in the 50 free in a NCAA B cut, personal-best 22.76. Her 22.76 50 free is tied for third in program history.
Weiss' 54.59 to win the 100 back at the Frank Elm Invite is the fastest 100 backstroke by any CCSA swimmer so far this season. She has won the 100 back five out of six times she has entered it in dual meets this season. Weiss earned Most Outstanding Freshman of the CCSA Meet in 2017. She won the CCSA 100 back in program-record, NCAA B cut time, 53.42. She also swam a B cut in the 100 fly, placing fifth in 54.15.
Liberty's relays had great performances at Virginia Tech. The 200 free relay of Hoeve, Colleen Donlin, Brittany Weiss and Hannah Baker won in 1:33.79, .01 seconds ahead of Virginia Tech's A team. Liberty's 200 medley relay placed third, but their time of 1:43.07 was the third-fastest regular-season 200 medley relay time in program history.
Lindsey Cohee has been impressive early on in her career, posting two wins each in both the 100 fly and 200 fly. She is already fifth on the program's all-time top 10 performers list in the 200 fly (2:02.02) and seventh in the 100 fly (55.93). Cohee has posted the fastest 100 fly and 200 fly time on the team in both events.
Payton Keiner has claimed victory in the 200 back three times this season. Her season-best 2:01.50 at the Frank Elm Invitational ranks sixth all-time in program history for the event. She is also ranked fourth in program history in the 50 backstroke (26.49), eighth in the 1000 freestyle (10:26.52) and ninth in the 100 back (55.99).
A pair of additional freshmen have entered the program's top 10 this season, in Kiah Francis (400 IM – 5th in 4:32.59; 100 IM – 9th in 1:01.08; 200 IM – 10th in 2:07.54) and Emily Manly (400 IM – 6th in 4:33.13).
Two Lady Flames have scored over 200 points in one-meter diving this season, led by Amy Schools' 216.15 at the Central Virginia Duals. Jenna Joyal scored 202.40 on Dec. 2, and she ranks third all-time in program history for one-meter diving with a 223.25 on Nov. 20, 2016. Schools is fifth in program history in both one-meter (216.15) and three-meter (159.80) diving.
Head Coach Jake Shellenberger is in his eighth season at the helm, guiding the program since the inaugural 2010-11 campaign. He has posted a 79-30 dual-meet record, twice being named CCSA Women's Swimming Coach of the Year. His teams have gone 46-14 against CCSA competition.
Marshall Marshall brings a 2-3 overall record into this weekend's meet. Most recently, the Herd finished seventh at the Tennessee Invitational. Last season, Marshall finished third at the Conference USA Championships with 724 points.
Catherine Bendziewicz returns after winning the 200 IM at the 2017 C-USA Championships in program-record 1:59.29. Bendziewicz also holds Marshall's record for 200 free, 1:47.87. She ranks third in the C-USA this season with a 2:02.00 in the 200 IM. Emma Lockyer, last year's fourth-place finisher in the 400 IM at the league meet, ranks third this season with a 4:18.60. Caroline Wanner is the team record holder in the 400 IM (4:15.07) and placed third at the 2017 C-USA meet in the event. Additional program record holders are Anna Lynch (1650 free – 16:37.21), Jordyn O'Dell (100 back – 55.86) and Madi Pulfer (500 free – 4:49.19).
UNC Asheville UNC Asheville enters this weekend with a 1-3 record, including 1-2 in CCSA meets. The Bulldogs have beaten Georgia Southern, while losing to Campbell, Gardner-Webb and UNCW. The team has not competed since Nov. 19, when the Bulldogs finished third at the Fall Frenzy Invite in Charlotte, N.C. UNC Asheville placed seventh at the 2017 CCSA Championships with 639 points.
Morgan Rulevich is UNC Asheville's most decorated swimmer, earning a third-place finish in the 200 breaststroke at the 2017 CCSA meet. She holds Asheville's records in the 50 free (23.30), 100 free (51.60), 200 free (1:51.17), 200 breaststroke (2:15.45) and 200 IM (2:07.54). Skylar Rogan, last year's fourth-place finisher in the CCSA 1650 freestyle, ranks third in the conference in the event this year (17:07.30) and second in the 500 free (4:56.63). Rogan is the team record holder in the 500 (4:56.63) and 1000 (10:15.32). Additional current Bulldog record holders are Emily Werth (100 back – 56.89), Stephanie Smith (200 back – 2:00.97; 400 IM – 4:27.95) and Catherine Allen (100 fly – 57.01; 200 fly – 2:02.89).
After Saturday's meet, Liberty will next compete at Marshall, next Saturday at 11 a.m. at Fredrick A. Fitch Natatorium.
Order of Events Liberty vs. Marshall/UNC Asheville 1. 200 Medley Relay 2. 1000 Freestyle 3. 200 Freestyle 4. 100 Backstroke 5. 100 Breaststroke 6. 200 Butterfly 7. 50 Freestyle 8. 3-meter Diving 9. 100 Freestyle 10. 200 Backstroke 11. 200 Breaststroke 12. 500 Freestyle 13. 100 Butterfly 14. 1-meter Diving 15. 400 Individual Medley 16. 400 Freestyle Relay
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