RADFORD, Va.-The North Carolina A&T swimming team finished the Highlander Invitational in strong form, sending five athletes to the finals of a trio of events. The Aggies finished the invitational in sixth place with 162 points.
"It was the best performance ever at the Radford Invitational as a team," said A&T head coach Shawn Hendrix. "I'm very proud."
The day saw a school record fall, as senior Lauren Bowling broke her own record by turning in a 2:15.64 performance in the finals of the 200-yard butterfly event, besting the previous mark of 2:15.86.
"It was a great race!" Hendrix said. "Lauren's senior leadership was displayed in her focus and determination at the finals by swimming her best 200 fly."
Overall, the Aggies had seven swimmers compete in various finals the meet. At last year's Highlander Invitational, the Aggies had just two swimmers -Danielle Jackson and Bowling - appear in two finals apiece. The A&T swimming team also had several athletes set new career and season best times this week in Radford.
"The team was so hyped for really everybody. Everyone also met their goal times," Hendrix said. "Every swimmer surpassed their best times in at least two events. The girls did a fabulous job dropping time. They were mentally exhausted because it was the last day of the meet and everybody went faster."
On Friday, the Aggies were represented in final heats by freshman Victoria Orr (400 IM), freshman Niya Ross (200 Freestyle), sophomore Jackson (100 Breaststroke) Bowling (100 Butterfly). On Saturday, junior Christian Hill (200 Backstroke), freshman Miranda Jacobs (200 Backstroke), Jackson (200 Breaststroke), Bowling (200 Butterfly) and freshman Jade Hill (200 Butterfly) all competed in the finals.
"In the 400 IM, Victoria Orr dropped 15 seconds in the preliminaries and another 12 seconds in the Finals A. It was the catalyst moment that drove the momentum and expectations to a higher level," Hendrix said.
The success the Aggies recorded on Friday translated into strong performances on Saturday.
On Saturday morning in the 200-yard backstroke preliminary race, Hill clocked in at 2:26.09 for 14th place, while Jacobs finished in 15th in 2:27.07. In the finals, Jacobs clocked in at 2:23.09 for 14th place, while Hill finished in 2:25.71 for 15th.
In the 100-yard freestyle preliminary race, Kenya Dunn had the best time for the Aggies (57.49). Lauren Bowling touched the wall in 58.08 for a new career-best.
In the 200-yard breaststroke preliminary heat, Danielle Jackson was 15th with a time of 2:45.93. She placed 15th in 2:44.06 in the finals of that event. Aarin Miles was 19th in the preliminary race with a career-best 2:58.83 time.
In the 200 yard butterfly preliminary heat, Lauren Bowling finished in 10th place in 2:24.57. In the finals heat of the event, Bowling finished ninth with a new career-best and new school record 2:15.64. Jade Hill was 12th in 2:39.00 in the preliminary heat, and in the finals, Hill touched the wall in 2:33.18.
The success the Aggies enjoyed at the Highlander Invitational will help them as they prepare for the second half of their season, which will begin in January.
"We are ahead of the curve," said Hendrix. "Now we must maintain momentum, stay focused and continue to be committed to doing the small things. The molding of this team is developing with the cohesiveness of team work."