Rebecca Millard

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

In swimming, sometimes you can be your best competitor.

This has certainly been the case through the first two days for the Texas women’s swimming and diving team at the Big 12 Championships.

Texas, the defending Big 12 champion, got off to a strong start at the championship meet on Wednesday. The Longhorns defeated the second-place team by more than 10 seconds, setting an early tone of dominance for the meet.  

The Longhorns carried the momentum into Thursday, flexing their muscles with an impressive victory in the 400 medley and setting a new Big 12 record. 

Among the stars of Thursday night was senior Rebecca Millard. The California native captured her third consecutive 50-yard freestyle victory at the Big 12 Championships.

“The Big 12 Championships are really fun,” Millard said. “It means sharpening up our races and working on the details, and the details are finally starting to get together.”

Of Texas’ four victories on Thursday night, perhaps none garnered a more resounding response from the crowd than Evie Pfeifer’s victory in the 500-yard freestyle. The freshman earned her first-career Big 12 title in the event, defeating teammate Quinn Carrozza.

“I really wanted to race Quinn. We train together everyday so I was excited for that,” Pfeifer said. “The 500 is where you swim until it hurts.”

Sophomore Alison Gibson led the diving team as the defending NCAA champion and set another conference record with a diving score of 356.25 points.

Meet finals will continue on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. The meet concludes on Saturday, with the Texas women looking to hoist yet another Big 12 Championship banner.  

Men's tennis

No. 9 men’s tennis continued its undefeated season this weekend with two convincing victories over No. 62 Washington and Rice. The Longhorns began the weekend’s play by defeating Washington 6–1 in matches highlighted by strong doubles play, especially from sophomore George Goldhoff. Goldhoff, the ITA Texas Region Rookie of the Year, returned from injury Friday and won both the No. 2 doubles and No. 5 singles matches. 

“It was nice to see George out there get two wins — that added to our team’s overall effort,” head coach Michael Center said. “He brought a lot of energy and fire to the match tonight. It was contagious.”

On Sunday, Rice traveled to Austin and the Longhorns took care of the Owls in easy fashion, getting out to a fast start and never looking back. The Longhorns gained control of the match early, with All-American senior Søren Hess-Olesen’s dominant 6–1, 6–2 victory.

The Longhorns now look ahead to next weekend’s ITA National Indoor Championships in Chicago. If the Longhorns can keep their momentum going and have a quality showing at the championships, they will prove to be one of the preeminent programs in the nation.

Women's swimming and diving

The Texas women’s swimming and diving team continued its string of dominant performances Friday, winning 13-of-15 events to handily defeat TCU at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. 

A bevy of seniors kick-started Texas’ success early on Senior Day, as Sarah Denninghoff, Gretchen Jaques, Kelsey LeNeave and Emily Rose Williams pulled out a win in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:41.81. Jaques notched an individual win in the 100-yard breaststroke, in which Texas went 1-2-3 with sophomore Jordan Surhoff and senior Skylar Smith taking second and third, respectively. Freshman Mimi Schneider turned in the No. 21 time in the country in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.32. Fellow freshman Rebecca Millard led a strong group of Longhorns in the 100-yard freestyle, winning with a time of 50.57 seconds in a race that saw four Longhorns finish in first through fourth place. Sophomore Madisyn Cox wasn’t able to match her three-win outing against Arizona/SMU, but she still competed well, finishing second in both the 200-yard butterfly and 100-yard free. 

In addition to her contributions on the 200-yard medley, LeNeave earned two individual wins in the 200-yard butterfly and 500-yard freestyle. Texas’ divers dominated as well, taking the top four spots in both the one-meter and three-meter boards, with junior Meghan Houston winning the one-meter board and senior Emma Ivory-Ganja taking the three-meter board. 

The Longhorns have a break until their next competition, when they host the Big 12 Championships from Feb. 25-28.

Track and field

After picking up three wins in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one in South Bend, Indiana, the Longhorn track and field team returns to Austin with heads held high.

At the Meyo Invitational on the campus of Notre Dame, sophomore Sandie Raines represented Texas, winning the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9:15.73. Fellow 3,000-meter runner, senior Craig Lutz, recorded a time of 8:01.71, placing second in the men’s section of the race. These two times rank sixth and fifth on their respective all-time lists at Texas and put the runners in position to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.

In New Mexico, the Longhorns’ men’s and women’s teams swept the 60-meter finals, and, in the process, set top-12 NCAA times. Sophomore Senoj-Jay Givans set the pace with a time of 6.62 seconds — the 12th best time in the NCAA after altitude adjustment. In the women’s bracket, junior Morolake Akinosun set the fourth best time in the NCAA after altitude adjustment this season with a mark of 7.20 seconds.

Jumping past the field, senior hurdler Morgan Snow finished with a time of 8.13 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles en route to picking up the win for Texas. Her time puts her second on the NCAA season leaderboard and was just .02 slower than her personal best.

Finally, junior Courtney Okolo, a Bowerman Award finalist, took home a time of 51.35 seconds in the 400 meters — the best college mark this season by almost half a second. Sophomore Kendall Baisden finished immediately behind her with a time of 52.91 seconds in the event.

This weekend, the Longhorns will split up again, this time between the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the Husky Classic in Seattle.