ATHENS, Ohio - After day three of the 2011 Mid-American Conference Championships, the Ohio swimming and diving team is one day away from capturing its 11th conference championship as the Bobcats maintained their lead Thursday night with 443.5 points overall. The 'Cats were challenged by both Miami and defending-champion Toledo, but it was the heroics of Rachel Heim, Rachel Stearns and their 400 Medley Relay teammates Petra Chomicz and Lauren Funk who kept Ohio in first place.
Ohio felt the pressure from Miami and Toledo right away as the Redhawks and Rockets combined for three of the top five spots in the 400 IM. Miami's Kelsey Vehr fell behind early in the race then zoomed past the competition in the final 200 yards, breaking a two-year old MAC record with a time of 4:14.61. Briana Emig of Eastern Michigan was second with a 4:15.93 as four swimmers in the event snagged a NCAA "B" time.
For the fourth-consecutive year, Heim displayed her tremendous leadership for Ohio as she took home the first-place medal in the 100 Fly with a time of 52.51, shattering the meet, pool, and MAC records and giving her team a necessary 20 points. Four other competitors, including Ohio's Amanda Cecere qualified for the NCAA "B" time.
Toledo continued to flex their muscles in the 200 Free as Rocket teammates Jacy Dyer and Laura Heckroth finished first and third, respectively, to narrow the Ohio lead to four points entering the final two individual races of the night.
Kelsey Vehr stole the show for a second time in the 100 Breaststroke, delivering a clutch performance with a time of 1:00.33 to edge Toledo's Laura Lindsay at the wall by .37. RedHawk teammate Megan Brunn finished a close third with a time of 1:00.97 while Bowling Green's Alexis Kain had a "B" time of 1:02.27, finishing fourth.
The RedHawks claimed victory for a second consecutive race in the 100 Backstroke thanks to Leah Thornton. The sophomore swam a better time in her prelims than in the final but her 54.42 in the championship heat was still enough to smash the MAC record set a year ago by Ohio's Rachel Heim. Heim and teammate Rachel Stearns finished second and third in the event.
The Aquatic Center was rocking as teams lined up for the final event of the evening, the 400 Medley Relay. Bobcat fans would not be disappointed as Stearns, Heim, Chomicz, and Funk finished first with a meet, pool, and MAC record of 3:39.47, sealing the lead for Ohio at the end of competition. As Funk touched the wall, the Ohio crowd erupted in applause as her teammates danced on the sidelines.
Standings After Day 3
1. Ohio - 443.5
2. Toledo - 406.5
3. Miami - 358
4. Eastern Michigan - 261
5. Akron - 222.5
6. Buffalo - 219.5
7. Bowling Green - 205.5
8. Ball State - 178.5
The Bobcats will look to bring home the hardware tomorrow night as the preliminary heats for 200 Back, 100 Free, 200 Breast, and 200 Fly begin at 11 a.m. The early heat for the 1650 Free Finals is set to begin at 5 p.m., while actual competition begins at 7.
For complete results, click HERE.