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Mustangs corral Owls in pool; Hurricanes up next

By Louis Lesser     10/19/11 7:00pm

In a matchup of the two schools who have combined to win the last 15 Conference USA championships, the swim team proved they still have a lot to learn from Southern Methodist University. The SMU women's swim team won 156-106 in a C-USA dual meet, the first of the season for both teams, on Oct. 15 at the Rice Aquatics Center. It was just last spring when Rice ended SMU's winning streak of 14-straight conference championships in women's swimming by claiming the 2011 C-USA title and it is clear from Saturday's match that the Mustangs were out for revenge. Rice showed that it was still out to contend this season, as sophomore Chelsea Fong set a facility record with a time of 2:05.64 in the 200-yard individual medley and senior Alex O'Brien took the top position in the 1,000-yard freestyle, but, possibly seeking vengeance from their loss last season, SMU won 12 of the meet's 14 events while setting seven facility records.

While SMU may have taken the win on paper, the meet was still full of victories for the Owls. The Owls took away two victories, including a 1-2-3 finish in the 1,000-yard freestyle, followed by teammates junior Danielle Spence (10:32.69) and sophomore Quincy Christian (10:40.57) in second and third place, respectively. Although the loss puts the Owls at 0-1 to start the season, Head Coach Seth Huston, mentioned that even though the meet didn't fall in the Owls' favor, there was still plenty to look forward to this season, and even feels that this team has a chance to be better than the group that won the conference championship a year ago.

"[We] wanted to see a win today, no question about that. However, I thought we swam really well, and we did get out and race and compete," Huston said. "We were in the thick of things over and over and over again."

Still, Huston saw no huge issues plaguing the team.

"It's just really [a good sign] for where we're at right now, even though the score did not reflect how well I thought we swam overall. [SMU] had a great meet. I can't control how well SMU is doing, but I was very happy with how we performed. We did great fighting for those second place finishes, now we need to get our hand on the wall for some of those victories."

The races Saturday were well fought, many of which were truly close affairs.

"[I have] never seen us compete, and take races down to the wire like that, with SMU — in a dual meet or even in the conference championships last year," Huston said. "Alex [O'Brien] had a great 1,000-yard freestyle. She usually doesn't go that fast until later in the season when she gets even more training under her belt, so that was really good to see. I thought Chelsea [Fong] just was outstanding. She had to go up against one of SMU's best in two of the races. It was also great to see freshman Casey Clark get out and get after that butterfly."

The praise didn't end there, as Huston detailed how many of his less experienced athletes rose to the challenge at their first intercollegiate meet.

"[Freshman] Erin Flanigan took second in both her 200-yard butterfly and 500-yard freestyle, and was just on the wrong side of finishes," Huston said. "She was right in the races the whole way. She was racing against an NCAA automatic qualifier, so she needs to be in stride with one of the best in the country. [Junior] Kim Steinhouse and [freshman] Marissa Konicke had great 50-yard freestyle. I thought Kim's 100-yard freestyle was nice on the second half of the race. [Sophomore] Michelle Gean and [junior] Stephanie Wei had nice backstroke swims, with Michelle in the 100-yard and Stephanie in the 200-yard."

Taking the loss in full stride, the Owls look forward to their next meet at the Rice Aquatics Center tomorrow versus University

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