Kelsey Amundsen

Women's Swimming & Diving

After four days of trailing behind Texas A&M in the lanes and on the boards, Texas placed second in the Big 12 Championships in Columbia, Mo.

The Longhorns arrived in Missouri to start racing on Wednesday, ending the day a mere two points behind A&M. Karlee Bispo, Katie Riefenstahl, Leah Gingrich and Samantha Tucker nabbed first place in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 7:04.09. Tucker’s sweeping finish as the final leg helped UT steal the race by over three seconds.

Bispo scored UT’s first individual title at the meet on Thursday with a win in the 200 IM, finishing with a time of 1:56.05. Sophomore Ellen Lobb won the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.56, while Kelsey Amundsen, last years’ winner, followed in second place with a time of 22.71.

By Friday, Texas clung on to second place but couldn’t quite pass A&M. Lily Moldenhauer, Laura Sogar, Lobb and Bispo combined for second place in the 400 medley relay, their time just below the NCAA qualifying standard.

Strong performances popped up throughout the day, as Moldenhauer placed third in the 100 butterfly and second in the 100 backstroke, while Sogar swam her quickest 100 breaststroke race of the season with a time of 1:00.31.

Two Texas divers competed in the 3-meter competition on Friday. Shelby Cullinan placed fourth with 335.75 points and Diana Wilcox took seventh with 311.75 points.

On the final day of the meet, Sogar nabbed her first NCAA qualifying standard with a 2:08.36 in the 200 breaststroke. Gretchen Jacques swam her fastest time of the season for fourth place, a 2:13.65.

Wilcox placed second in the platform diving competition with 298.30 points, and Cullinan took third with 282.60 points.

Bispo, Tucker and Amundsen dominated the 100 freestyle race with times under 50.00, placing second, third and fourth.

Freshman Kelsey LeNeave swam her season best in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:16.41 and placed second overall. Another freshman swimmer, Kaitlin Pawlowicz, followed close behind in fourth place with a time of 16:27.87.

The Longhorns finished strong with a win in the last event, the 400 freestyle relay, a race Texas has claimed three of the last four years, with swimmers Bispo, Amundsen, Hooper and Tucker finishing with a 3:16.42.

Texas finished the meet with 873 points, second to rival A&M’s 1,019 points.

On Thursday, swimmers will have another shot at achieving NCAA qualifying marks during the All-American Invitational, which runs through Saturday.

With only six women competing in Friday evening’s eight events, it was a quality over quantity approach that moved Texas into sixth place by the end of the second night of the NCAA swimming and diving championships.

After a less than stellar showing in the morning’s preliminary swimming events, the Longhorns failed to earn a finals birth in three of the seven swims at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center in the evening. However, divers Maren Taylor and Shelby Cullinan each earned spots in the evening’s lone diving event, the 3-meter springboard.

The second night got underway with it’s third team swim, the 200-yard medley relay. Texas head coach Kim Brackin elected to go with a young relay squad as freshmen Lily Moldenhauer and Ellen Lobb joined sophomores Laura Sogar and Bethany Adams.

Having barely made it into the "A" final as the eighth and final seed, the four underclassmen were unable to put together any kind of upset as they trailed throughout the race.

Despite their struggles, the team’s ability to outswim the Arizona State women en route to a seventh place finish was very important as it added 24 points to the Longhorn’s overall score.

The extra two points earned by moving up a spot allowed them to maintain their overall seventh-place standing, despite Wisconsin’s second-place medley finish.

Neither Leah Gingrich’s team best 29th finish in the 400 individual medley nor Kelsey Amundsen’s team-high 24th spot in the 100 butterfly were good enough to add to Texas’ overall point total.

Team captain Karlee Bispo looked to get the Longhorns back on track as she jumped in the pool for the "A" final in the 200 freestyle. Bispo, a freestyle specialist, got off to a great start as she was in third after 150 yards, but a tough last 50 caused the junior to fall back, finishing the race in fourth with a time of 1 minute, 42.81 seconds.

Sogar was Texas’ lone competitor in the night’s fifth event, the 100 breaststroke, finishing with a time of 59.60 seconds, which earned her seventh and added 12 points to the team’s overall score.

Texas was shutout yet again in the 100 backstroke as Moldenhauer’s 22nd place finish was not good enough to place her in the final heats nor did it earn the team any points.

Looking to regain momentum, the Longhorn’s had two divers in the deep pool’s only event for the night.

The 3-meter springboard was the first event of the 2011 championships in which the Longhorns had multiple competitors in the final.

Taylor and Cullinan were in great position to add to the team total and move Texas up the overall standings and gain momentum.

Despite finishing seventh and eighth in the event, the two women put together an impressive set of dives and their combined total of 23 points was enough to move the Longhorn’s past Auburn and into sixth in the overall standings with a score of 142.

Having just moved up, and trailing Arizona by only 10, Texas had plenty of motivation heading into the night’s marquee event, the 800 freestyle relay.

Bispo was quick off the opening block and swam in spectacular fashion as she led the first 150 yards of the race before dropping into second by the end of her 200. Katie Riefenstahl was next in the water and dropped another spot before giving way to Adrienne Woods for the third leg of the race. Woods dropped into fourth at the 500-yard mark and kept it that way for the next 100. Austin native Samantha Tucker swam a stellar anchor leg and was able to hold on to give the team a fourth place relay finish.

The team was unable to gain any ground on Arizona, who finished third in the final event, but their 30-point effort kept them within striking distance and increased the team’s lead over seventh-place Florida heading into the final day of competition.

For the first time in nine years, the Longhorns hopped into their own pool to kick off the 2011 Women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

They exited the pool on Thursday evening in seventh place.

The Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center hasn’t hosted the event since 2002, when head coach Kim Brackin, then an assistant at Auburn, helped lead the Tigers to a national championship.

"I have some great memories from this pool. We (Auburn) had young, good talent who hadn't really sparked yet," Brackin recalled. "There are a lot of similarities to this year for us. I remember that team chemistry is so important."

With 13 competitors, 11 swimmers and two divers, chemistry would be very important early on as Texas was looking to get off to a quick start at the championship meet.

The 200-yard freestyle relay foursome of Kelsey Amundsen, Bethany Adams, Ellen Lobb and Karlee Bispo got the team off to a great start with a third place finish in the first race of the championships.

Their time of 1 minute, 28.06 seconds earned the team 32 points while Cal Berkley’s time of 1 minute, 27.36 seconds earned it first place and 40 points in the overall competition. Arizona finished second and gained 34 points.

Texas was unable to earn any points in the 500 freestyle as Leah Gingrich’s team best 36th place finish was not high enough to add to the Longhorn’s score.

The third event of the night brought Texas back to the podium.

Bispo was able to finish third in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1 minute, 55.07 seconds. Her bronze medal put the team’s overall point total at 48 and moved them into fifth place half way through the opening night’s festivities.

Adams, a sophomore competing in her second consecutive NCAA championship, swam the 50 freestyle in a time of 22.49 seconds. That time was good enough for 14th place and added three more points to the team’s overall score.

Maren Taylor dove her way to an identical 14th place finish in the one-meter diving final, the first diving event of the championships, and also added three to the Longhorn’s overall score.

In the night’s final swim, Lily Moldenhauer and Laura Sogar combined with Amundsen and Bispo to finish 10th in the 400 medley. The relay’s 14-point effort gave the team 68 points on the night and put them in seventh place heading into Friday’s second day of competition.