Ohio Staves Off Resilient Rockets to Earn 2011 Women's Swimming and Diving Championship

Updated 2/27/2011

Story courtesy of MAC Media Relations Departments

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ATHENS, Ohio -
The phrase "home sweet home" will have a new meaning to the Ohio swimming and diving team as the Bobcats took home their 11th Mid-American Conference Championship Saturday night in front of a full crowd of Bobcat fans, finishing with 669.5 points overall.

"It's been a great season, but it's been especially fun these past couple days," said head coach Greg Werner. "This was well-deserved and I'm really proud of what we were able to accomplish today."

The 'Cats entered the final day of competition with a slim 37-point lead on Toledo and were able to hang on until the end despite strong performances across the board from the Rockets. Toledo finished second with 630.5 overall, followed by Miami in third with 561.

In the first final of the day, Toledo junior Claire Leichty pulled a stunning upset in the 1650 Free, surpassing her teammate and incumbent champion Jacy Dyer to take first in a pool and meet record time of 16:16.33. Dyer finished fourth with a time of 16:29.56.

It was then Rachel Stearns' turn to put Ohio fans on their feet as she continued her spectacular weekend with a first-place finish in the 200 Back with a pool record and personal-best time of 1:57.20. Miami's Leah Thornton was right on her heels in 1:57.99.

The 100 Freestyle belonged to Buffalo's Caroline Simmons as the sophomore took home an event win for the Bulls with a time of 49.67. Fellow sophomores Carly Harter of Toledo and Lauren Funk of Ohio finished second and third.

A night after winning her first two individual events, Miami's Kelsey Vehr was back at it in the 200 Breaststroke. An All-American a year ago, the senior wrapped up her final individual MAC swim in a record-setting time of 2:10.37, besting her own record of a year ago by over a full second. Toledo's Laura Lindsay also had a strong swim and touched the wall in second place in 2:10.63 after a neck-and-neck battle with Vehr throughout the race.

In the final individual race of the MAC Championships, Ohio senior Rachel Heim delivered a performance to remember, breaking a MAC record dating back to 1991 with a time of 1:59.39 in the 200 Butterfly. Toledo freshman Beth Rogers delivered a surprisingly strong performance as well, only falling to Heim by .18 after delivering the best time in the prelims.

Eastern Michigan's Lesley Vizarraga edged out the Bobcats' Lindsay Hamilton in the 3-meter Diving competition. The battle between the two seniors ended with Vizarraga having a 322.75-320.65 advantage.

With the overall winner already decided, Toledo took the 400 Free Relay, an event also won last season by the Rockets. Toledo successfully defended its title as the team of Harter, Thompson, Heckroth and Dyer won in a school-record time of 3:21.57 to close out the meet.

Final Team Standings
1. Ohio - 669.5
2. Toledo -630.5
3. Miami - 561
4. Eastern Michigan - 385
5. Buffalo - 328.5
t-6. Akron - 312.5
     Bowling Green - 312.5
8. Ball State - 261.5

MAC Honors
Diver of the Year - Lindsay Hamilton, Ohio
Diving Coach of the Year - Buck Smith, Eastern Michigan
Swimmer of the Year - Kelsey Vehr, Miami
Head Coach of the Year Greg Werner, Ohio

1st Team All-MAC
Caroline Simmons, Buffalo
Briana Emig, Eastern Michigan
Sarah Kowalski, Eastern Michigan
Lesley Vizarraga, Eastern Michigan
Megan Brunn, Miami
Leah Thornton, Miami
Kelsey Vehr, Miami
Lauren Funk, Ohio
Lindsay Hamilton, Ohio
Rachel Heim, Ohio
Rachel Stearns, Ohio
Jacy Dyer, Toledo
Carly Harter, Toledo
Laura Heckroth, Toledo
Claire Leichty, Toledo
Laura Lindsay, Toledo

2nd Team All-MAC
Leeanna Hoover, Akron
Mallory Miles, Ball State
Alexis Kain, Bowling Green
Katelyn Pratt-Collins, Buffalo
Manda Kiefer, Eastern Michigan
Chelsey Bruington, Miami
Nikki Craft, Miami
Maddie Kete, Miami
Bekka Westrick, Miami
Amanda Cecere, Ohio
Petra Chomicz, Ohio
Stacey Huber, Ohio
Laurin Williams, Ohio
Kelsey Atchison, Toledo
Rachel Johnson, Toledo
Christina Noens, Toledo
Beth Rogers, Toledo