March 21, 2003
AUBURN, Ala. - Friday's 2003 NCAA Championships preliminaries pretty much ran the gamut of possibilities for the University of Arizona women's swimming and diving squad.
During the morning session, Arizona not only saw a school-record effort in the 400y IM, but also two new personal bests. To top it off, the Wildcats qualified for the championship or consolation finals of six events.
The Wildcats opened Friday's preliminaries with a fantastic performance in the 200y medley relay. Arizona's quartet of senior Beth Botsford, junior Jessica Wagner, and freshmen Lisa Pursley and Marshi Smith swam the third-fastest time overall, 1:39.35, en route to gaining an ideal lane position for the evening finals. Only defending NCAA Champion Auburn and California surpassed Arizona's season-best time during the morning session.
Sophomore Emily Mason continued to build the 'Cats momentum in the 400y IM preliminaries when she swam a school record 4:09.74 en route to a second-place finish.
Arizona has now broken two school-records, the 400y IM and the 100y back, through only a day and a half of the 2003 NCAA Championships.
In Friday's third event the 100y fly, Botsford swam a season-best 53.91, thus granting her a 13th place finish and a spot in the evening's championship final. Pursley also competed in the 100y fly and she touched the wall in 55.03, good enough for 35th.
Elsewhere, the Wildcats had two competitors in the 200y free, but unfortunately neither qualified for the evening's finals. Sophomore Jessica Hayes dictated the pace for the Wildcats with an 18th place finish (1:48.17), narrowly missing the consolation final. Freshman Katie Willis followed behind Hayes in 40th when she touched the wall in 1:49.88.
Another highlight of Friday's preliminaries was the performance of Wagner in the 100y breast. Wagner swam her season-best time of 1:00.69 en route to garnering the fourth-place position in the evening's championship final. Freshman Erin Sieper tied her regular season apogee of 1:02.29 in her 19th place finish.
In the concluding event of the preliminaries on Friday, Arizona brought three swimmers into the mix and two qualified for evening finals. As expected, Botsford qualified for the championship final with a second-place finish of 53.31. A pleasant surprise for Arizona was Smith who swam her own personal best on the way to a ninth-place finish, good enough to qualify for the consolation final. The freshman from Annandale, Va. fell only .02 seconds short of entering the championship final.
Freshman Jenna Gresdal competed in the 100y back and placed 20th by clocking a time of 54.89
Nearly the full complement of Arizona's roster will be in action Friday night during the evening finals. In addition to the morning qualifiers, the 'Cats will participate in the 800y free relay, where they are the defending NCAA champion.
Day Two Event Competitor Prelims Finals Place 200 Medley Relay Botsford (24.99), Wagner (27.65) 1:39.35 Pursley (24.36), Smith (22.35) 400 IM Emily Mason 4:09.76* 100 Butterfly Lisa Pursley 55.03 -------- 35th Beth Botsford 53.71 200 Freestyle Katie Willis 1:49.88 -------- 40th Jessica Hayes 1:48.17 -------- 18th 100 Breaststroke Jessica Wagner 1:00.69 Erin Sieper 1:02.29 -------- 19th 100 Backstroke Beth Botsford 53.21 Marshi Smith 54.47 Jenna Gresdal 54.89 -------- 20th 800 Freestyle Relay 3-Meter Diving