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800 Free Relay Wins Sun Belt in multi-record performance; 200 Medley Relay 4th

The seed times of the Sun Belt Championships' 800 freestyle relay set the event up as a duel between FIU and meet host North Texas. FIU won the duel in 7:12.70, a school record almost nine seconds faster than the Panthers previous best time of the year, 7:21.54, and dusting the Sun Belt championships record of 7:16.10 set by Denver last year. North Texas finished in 7:15.57.

"We're all really even," sophomore Johanna Gustafsdottir said of FIU's foursome. "I think that's what brought the time down so much."

Gustafsdottir's analysis wallows in understatement as much as a swim team does chlorine. Gustafsdottir dropped a 1:48.02 on the first leg, setting a school record for the 200 free. Junior Sonia Perez took over and swam a 1:48.01 (only opening relay legs can count as records for that legnth). Gustafsdottir said she felt FIU would take the race when she saw freshman Danielle Albright take the lead on the third leg, which was 1:48.65. Senior Marina Ribi brought the lead home with a 1:48.02.

So, the four legs varied by 64 hundredths of a second. Take out Albright's leg and they vary by one one-hundreth of a second.

"Nobody thought we were going to win, but we knew, we knew we were going to win and we did it!" Perez said by phone from Texas, sounding almost as if she was still pumping adrenaline about an hour after the race.

FIU finished fourth behind Western Kentucky, North Texas and FAU in Wednesday's first event, the 200 medley relay. Gustafsdottir, Klara Andersson, Valeriia Popova and Kelly Grace swam a school record 1:42.16.

"We were disappointed by our placing in the 200 free relay, although our time was a second and a half under our school record," FIU coach Randy Horner said. "We're not as good a sprint team as we were in the longer events and it showed in the 800 free relay. We broke three school records and a Sun Belt record (on the first day). You can't ask for much more than that."

FIU's two points behind Western in the overall standings going into Thursday, when FIU should pick up a win from defending champion Sabrina Beaupre in the 3-meter diving. Day 2 also will have the finals of the 500 free, in which Sonia Perez set a school record this year; the 200 individual medley, won last year by Gustafsdottir, who has the fastest seed time this year; the 50 free; and the 200 free relay, in which FIU has the second fastest seed time.

"I feel better than I did last year (at this time)," said Gustafsdottir, the 2012 Sun Belt Swimmer of the Year after a stunning coming out party at the conference meet.

Also, FIU should pick up points tomorrow from Ribi in the 200 IM and Klara Andersson in the 50 free. Perez is seeded eighth in the 200 IM and could pick up points for FIU there.

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DJ Neal, your posts on non-revenue sports tend to be short, no pictures.

In football and basketball posts you favor youtube clips to photos, and the couple photos you've posted of tailgates and basketball crowds have been frankly, iphonteurish. Sand volleyball starts in March, we're counting on you to bring us the story.

I would just add that I miss the lack of any context for reportage on the diving, jumping, archery, and badminton coverage. For example, do all Sun Belt schools even field teams in these off brand sports? Obviously the diver gal is great in her field, but compared to what, exactly? Do they even have swimming pools in Troy? I applaud your stolid workmanship, DJN, but, really, all the detail in the world doesn't mean a whole lot all by itself. Migala Migovilovich whacks 57 shuttlecocks clean without a check. You go, girl.

Diagodog, there's a lot I could answer, but from the tone of your first and last sentences, the best reply would be, "Then, skip it until there's a post on a sport you care about."

It's a blog folks, not an encyclopedia.

I personally like to see the coverage of other sports. I understand Football will always be king, and Basketball is a close 2nd. But I think all sports should get some kind of attention (specially if they perform at a high level). Some of our non-revenue sports are performing at the highest level in the Sunbelt as well as natioanl rankings. I think Neal should report all that, and Im happy he does.
If you are clueless of all sports for the exception of Football and Basketball then thats your lost. Sucks for you!

Go Panthers!

Okay, DJN, I will try to be entirely serious. I think it is a very good thing that you spend time on the non-revenue sports. Were I one of those athletes mentioned, I would be thrilled that you go to the time and trouble. It is simply that I don't know much about the context of this reportage and I am sure I would care more about it with a little help from someone such as yourself who is more informed. For instance, does the Sun Belt track and field program measure up to any greater or lesser degree than say football on the national level? Often times minor conferences do excel in such, but I really don't have any idea whether we are truly biddy league in such endeavor or not. Same goes for the Beaupre gal. I get it that she is Queen of the Sun Belt divers and that she was very good as a junior in Canada--she seems to have accomplished, relatively speaking, what TY Hilton and Garrett Wittels did in their sports. But, honestly, how many teams in the Sun Belt field competitive swim/dive teams? I haven't a clue and I wouldn't mind hearing. Why did she come here, of all places? I am not trying to be your boss. I am just saying. I suppose this lack of context is due in part to the fact that FIU plays in a conference with all these directional schools located in the boondocks, of course, and I couldn't be happier that we are leaving the conference behind for a slightly more well known set, but meantime let me reiterate that my curiosity is sincere and that if a move to the CUSA redounds to the non-revenue sports, I will be even more happy. As for my "tone," I will toss it right back to you. I happen to enjoy your sarcasm and humor, even when it doesn't work. Posts that sound as if God himself were at the dictaphone get pretty tiresome. For another example, Greg Cote's Sunday column is enjoyable. When he gets up on his high horse, as has happened with his recent screeching defense of one of the other schools in town, he sounds like a paid flak. Peace out.

Great piece on Beaupre in paper on Tuesday DJN. I am one of those that does not care much for the non-big three sports of basketball, baseball, and football, but that was a great article.

A few things about Sunbelt Vs. C-USA when it comes to Cross and Track.

Its a HUGE jump up (maybe bigger then in Football). For some reason you see lots of international athletes in C-USA and 90% of them are amazing athletes. That is why this schools don't mind shooting out a "Full International Scholly" their way.. The travel I personally think will be a little easier since some of the schools are in bigger cities (instead of towns in the middle of no where). I remember several trips where you would need to take two planes and a 1hour van ride just to get to the school (like Middle Tennessee). I also agree with DIAGODOG that the jump to C-USA is a great idea for FIU..

BUT, we need to drastically improve in our athletic facilities. Some are close to Div-1 standard, but others are a joke compared to schools like UCS, Southern Miss, Rice, etc..

Go Panthers!

I think you do a great job DJN. I appreciate the time and effort you give to the smaller sports...especially in the blog. Thank you for reporting on the good, bad, and ugly.

Great stuff DJN. The sports outside of the big 3 deserve coverage. I want to see FIU be competitive in everything. Photos would be nice just to get to know some of the these players.

I've always followed our soccer teams, tennis (when we had a mens team too) and golf. We've been competitive at all of those. I have alot of hope that our sand volleyball and swimming will one day dominate given our geographic advantage.

GO FIU!

thanks, gooch, interesting stuff. on the travel issue, I suppose it could be worse. I can remember when we had radio broadcasts of basketball, even the away games, and the announcers were forever making fun of the places they had to go to when we were in whatever it was called...the Atlantic Sun Conference?

It was called TAAC (Transamerica Athletic Conference) back in our day. LOL.

I also enjoy the coverage of lesser known teams, particularly when some of our teams/athletes are very good too.

Thanks for the balanced coverage, DJN! I enjoyed the diver article.

After Denver's departure, 5 Sun Belt schools have swim teams. Conference USA has six schools now competing, will lose two and gain three, I think, for seven next year. Will it be more competitive than the Sun Belt? Depends on the sport. Just picking a conference I once knew well (and a pal's daughter was in the conference meet last week), the Big Ten's a good swimming conference. FIU's 800 free relay would've finished 7th in the Big Ten, third in Conference USA. Johanna Gustafsdottir probably will win the 200 IM tonight with a time that would've put her 6th or 7th in the Big Ten and won easily in Conference USA. Diving's tougher to judge because it is, well, judged. But Sabrina Beaupre's early round score would've been third in the Big Ten prelims.

I guess I never think about "how does this compare?" unless there's a truly remarkable time or distance because this is where FIU is, just like the Pac-10 is where Oregon is or the ACC is where Clemson is. Generally, unless you've got a Kentucky-basketball-from-1940-1980 deal going, the rest of your conference is right around where you are in each sport, recruiting the same kinds of athletes, with similar budgets. So, your goal as a team and athletic department is to win your conference, beat your peers. The Sun Belt might be ever changing, but it didn't just start yesterday. So, to win your conference, break conference records or school records of time or distance, bully for you even if you're not going to threaten the NCAA's best.

I find all that very interesting, DJN. Thanks for the time and trouble. And it is a good article on Boo Weekly.

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