LA MIRADA, Calif.-- It was another great day for the NAIA’s No. 5 ranked Azusa Pacific swimming and diving team as the Cougars had three top-10 finishes and saw multiple swimmers shave significant time on the final day of the PCSC championships. Azusa Pacific, which finished in 7th at the 13-team meet, beat the likes of Pepperdine, Biola, and Concordia with 569 points after four days of competition.
“It was good. We did the best we could and had a great showing,” said head coach Tim Kyle. “We’ve put a lot of time in for months on end and it's coming together. People have been dedicated to practice and they believe in the program. It just goes to show that when you work that hard, good things come from it.”
The Cougars recorded their best finish of the day in the competition’s final event, the 400 free relay, as Tink Gibb, Angela Kanigowski, Jamie Lofland, and Quinn Robertson reached the wall in 5th place with a time of 3:33.96; crushing the team’s previous best of 3:41.82.
In the 100 free Gibb turned in a season-best 52.48 to snag 6th place, while Robertson (53.30) and Kanigowski (53.510) finished 17th and 18th respectively. Cameron Hagen posted a 7th best time in the 200 breast (2:25.48), and Simone Garcia touched at 2:28.61 to take 13th. Sara Zandihn swam a time of 2:36.12 in the 200 breast to finish 24th.
In the mile multiple Azusa Pacific swimmers trimmed time off their season best. Victoria Hodge took 17th place (18:38.6), while Stacy Wong got 21st with a time of 18:49.04. Wong, who’s previous best was 19:10.49, made the ‘A’ cut for nationals, while Hodge cut just over 15 seconds off her quickest swim. But the Cougars weren’t done there. Haley Stevens posted a mark of 19:14.94 and Kate Branson chopped off nearly 40 seconds with a time of 20:48.48.
“The mile was really good for us. Everyone that swam it did a tremendous job,” said Kyle. “Wong made the ‘A’ cut in the mile, Hodge dropped a lot of time, and Kate Branson dropped around 40 seconds.”
Malerie Morgan also had a great day as she posted a season-best 2:10.37 in the 200 back, shaving two seconds off of a prelim time that was already two seconds quicker than what she came into the PCSC championship with.
“Malerie had a great meet, and these are her best times coming into nationals,” said Kyle.
The Cougars, who have been training non-stop since early October, will now take a two and a half week break before flying to Oklahoma City for the NAIA National Championships on February 29. Azusa Pacific has qualified 15 swimmers and one diver in 37 events, and is looking to improve upon last year’s fifth place finish.