GREENSBORO-The North Carolina A&T swimming team had a strong performance on Friday night against Radford at Corbett Sports Center in the team's home opener. The Aggies posted a trio of first place finishes in the meet, despite falling to the Highlanders 122-71.
Their strong performance overall began with a huge first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, and the Aggies kept up that tempo and intensity over the course of the competition.
In the 200 medley relay, the Aggies clocked in at 1:56.08 (about six seconds faster than Radford) behind a strong performance from freshmen Miranda Jacobs and Kenya Dunn, sophomore Danielle Jackson and senior Lauren Bowling. The Aggies defeated the Highlanders in that event to kickoff their last meeting, which was on Jan. 12 at Corbett Sports Center.
"The way we started off the meet, we were very confident and the tempo was imperative. We carried it on through the meet. We had a couple of events where we were outnumbered and we had to strategize with that," said A&T head coach Shawn Hendrix. "That was huge, that tempo-setting right there [with the 200 medley relay]. The girls really knew when I brought them together. I told them, 'Guys, do not lose this relay. I'm telling you, I refuse to lose this relay. We're not going to do that.' That was impressive."
Four Aggies-Danielle Jackson, Sarah Simmons, Aarin Miles and LaBraya Milton all posted new career-bests in individual events in the evening. Much of that success was due to continued improvement in their technique and execution, Hendrix said.
Jackson clocked in at 58.46, setting a new career high, for third place in the 100 freestyle.
"Danielle had a really good 50 breaststroke [in the 200 medley relay]. She raced it well and along with racing it well, she came back and had her best time in the 100 free. That was a lot of pressure to put her on, since she was the only one in that heat," Hendrix said.
Simmons set a new career-high with a 1:29.62 finish in the 100 backstroke for fifth place. Miles also had a new career-high with a 1:21.44 finish in the 100 backstroke, while Milton clocked in a 1:31.70 for another career-best.
Bowling recorded a season best with a 1:00.28 finish in the 100 butterfly, which was the same time she posted in the finals of 2012 CCSA Championships. She owns the school record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.04, which she set in the preliminary heat of the 100 butterfly at the 2012 CCSA Championships in February. Bowling's goal is to swim the event in 59 seconds or less this season.
"One of the things is Lauren has been timid to just take it all out. She took it all out in that relay. This is the thing about Lauren being a team swimmer. She will sacrifice herself harder on a relay than she will for an individual event," Hendrix said, adding that she was impressed with Bowling's performances on Friday.
Dunn set a new season-best in the 50 freestyle, placing first in that event with a 25.40 time. Freshman Niya Ross also had a solid evening for the Aggies, taking third in the 200 freestyle (2:08.06) and 200 IM (2:22.90). Junior Erika Eisenman took third in the 50 freestyle with a 26.94 time, which was also faster than her seed time, and 0.01 seconds off her career best.