Boosted by a strong showing in the 500 freestyle, the West Virginia University men’s and women’s swimming teams completed the second day of competition at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship, at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, on Thursday night in Austin, Texas.
In the first individual events of this year’s conference meet, 13 Mountaineers competed in A finals on night two. The night was highlighted by four men’s swimmers competing in the championship final of the 500-yard freestyle, while freshman Roanoke Shirk collected a win in the event’s consolation final.
“We had another great start to our meet tonight,” coach Vic Riggs said. “We swam very strong in prelims this morning, getting in the right heats tonight for the team races. Our 500 freestyle competitors started the finals off great, and we kept the momentum going through the 200 individual medley and 50 free. Having so much representation in the championship finals was great to see, now we just need to keep pushing the rest of the week.”
Opening the night was WVU’s momentum in the 500 freestyle, starting with the women’s event where senior Luisa Winkler (4:51.88) and freshman Abby Reardon (4:54.70) appeared in the A final, collected sixth and eighth, respectively. In the men’s consolation final, Shirk grabbed his win in his first individual debut at the conference meet, clocking a time of4:28. 50.
Next up, freshman Brendan Williams (5th – 4:28.17), senior Max Gustafson (6th – 4:28.31), freshman Logan McFadden (7th – 4:28.76) and sophomore Zach Boley (8th – 4:28.77) represented the Mountaineers with strong showings in the championship final.
Freshman Jordan Buechler then grabbed fifth place in the 200 individual medley, her first individual event at the conference meet. Notching the third-best time in the event in program history, Buechler touched the wall in 2:01.15 to pace the women. Senior David Dixon then earned a matching fifth-place finish in the men’s event with a time of 1:45.58.
The Mountaineer sprinters had their chance to shine next in the 50 freestyle. A pair of sophomores led the way for the women in the A final, as Harna Minezawa placed seventh (23.17) and Emily Haimes followed in eighth (23.20). Van Wyk paced the men, notching a fourth-place finish in 19.92 to All-Big 12 First Team distinction, while sophomore Roberts Zemturis was just behind him in fifth place (20.09).
Thursday’s action concluded with the 400 medley relay competitions. For the women, Buechler, freshman Shelby Gerving, Minezawa and Haimes combined to place fifth with a time of 3:42.92. The men’s team earned a bronze-medal finish to close the evening, as freshman Justin Heimes, junior Fausto Huerta, Dixon and Van Wyk touched the wall in 3:13.84 to claim third place.
West Virginia continues Big 12 Championship action on Friday, Feb. 26, at the Texas Swimming Center in Austin. Split prelim sessions are set to begin at 10 a.m. ET for the women and 12 p.m. for the men, while finals will commence at 7 p.m. Big 12 Now on ESPN+ will provide coverage of the finals session.