Missouri St. wins another MVC title
Green named meet MVP, Steck honored as coach of the year
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Missouri State continued its dominance of the Missouri Valley Conference with its fourth consecutive league title and eighth in nine years.
The final day began with the grueling 1650-yard freestyle. In the race, Southern Illinois’ Kirsten Groome defended her title with a time of 16:43.53. For the Bears, junior Dimitra Drakopoulou went 17:04.66 to finish fourth and senior Katharina Voelkel turned in a time of 17:13.03 for seventh place.
The next event was the 200-yard backstroke, an event in which Missouri State excels. Freshman Anna Ahlin finished the race with a blistering 2:00.76, giving Ahlin a sweep of the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events. Close behind Ahlin was senior captain Chelsea Dirks-Ham, who placed fourth at 2:05.45. Sophomore Kaylee Steffen (2:06.21, fifth place) and junior Brynne Buell (2:06.74, seventh place) also scored for the Bears.
The 100-yard freestyle gave sophomore Amber Green a final chance at an individual title. She made the most of her last opportunity, breaking a conference record that she set in her preliminary swim. Her time of 49.52 in the final is also a NCAA “B” cut, her fourth cut line of the meet. Junior Ali Stauffer (52.43, third) and freshman Hannah Molden (54.38, eighth) also finished in the top eight.
Freshman Renata Sander and sophomore Melissa Oishi were the top seeds in the 200-yard breaststroke. Both swimmers dropped a second off their prelim times, but Southern Illinois’ Kristin Geppert had the race of her career, winning the event at 2:17.37. Sander (2:18.32) and Oishi (2:20.61) finished right behind Geppert for second and third place, respectively.
The final individual event was the 200-yard butterfly that junior Katie Lindeman (2:07.94), sophomore Marta Nogueroles (2:07.94) and Voelkel (2:12.81) finished fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
The 3-meter diving championship final saw the Bears put the freshman duo of Kelsey Burgin and Lindsey Conway in the top eight. Burgin totaled 232.35 for sixth place in the event, while Conway scored 195.20 for eighth place.
The final event of the meet was memorable for Dirks-Ham. The stalwart leader of the Bears the past four seasons had not yet won an event in the meet. So, head coach Jack Steck and associate head coach Dave Collins decided to swim Dirks-Ham as the anchor leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Ahlin, Stauffer and Green built a large lead in the event, but Dirks-Ham was the one who touched the wall at 3:26.33, for her first win of the meet and the last of her career.
The Bears totaled 944 points in the meet (seventh highest point total in MVC history), compiling a win margin of 209 points.
Head coach Jack Steck was named Valley Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year, the seventh of his career. Steck has won more MVC Coach of the Year awards than any coach in Valley history.
Amber Green was selected as Swimmer of the Year after winning all seventh events she swam in, setting six conference and school records.