UPCOMING HOME GAMES/MATCHES
Friday -- Softball vs. Siena, 4:30 p.m.
Friday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.
Friday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30
Saturday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 4 p.m.
Saturday -- Softball vs. Deleware, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30
Saturday -- Women's Basketball vs. Florida Atlantic, 7 p.m.
Sunday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.
Sunday -- Softball vs. Siena, 12:30 p.m.
Before we get to the destruction FIU's water women wrought in the pool Friday morning, let's talk tearing it up in the classroom. Senior Valeri Inghels, junior Lily Kaufmann and sophomore Rebecca Quesnel made the 2016 Conference USA All-Academic Swimming & Diving team, as announced Friday afternoon. You need a 3.2 GPA and be an integral part of your team.
Inghels, who won the 500 freestyle Thursday at the CUSA Swimming & Diving Championships, has a 3.89 GPA as a communications arts major. Kaufmann, who led FIU in diving at last year's meet in Quesnel's absence and finished third in the 3-meter Thursday, is a psychology major with a 3.71 GPA. Quesnel, the dominant CUSA regular season diver the last two years, has a 3.78 and studies criminal justice.
Now, then. About that pool...
The clock is ticking on Rice and Marshall at the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships because FIU keeps beating Rice, Marshall, the clock and anybody else showing up at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
FIU did exactly what it needed to do Friday morning as owner's of a 117-point lead on Marshall and 136 on Rice after Day 2: prevent blowouts in their weaker events, set up blowouts in the stronger ones. And without some DQs or drownings, the Panthers could realistically clinch a repeat as Conference USA Champions tonight.
The 400 individual medley is where Rice and Marshall stood the best chance of chopping into FIU's lead. And the two chasing teams did put three each in the top eight, led by Rice sophomore Kaitly Swinney's 4:20.43. But FIU freshman Ilari Manzella (4:20.95, second best behind Swinney) and senior Becky Wilde also got past the rope into the top eight club. FIU's Chase Harris (4:31.37) is in the second eight with two Rice swimmers and one Marshall swimmer. Points bomb defused.
On the other hand, FIU pulled the pins on the grenades in the 100 butterfly and 200 free. Both Inghels (53.69) and freshman Mari Lauridsen (53.76) broke Inghels' school record of 53.88 while sophomore Letizia Bertelli's personal best 54.10 completed a sweep of the top three prelim times. Junior Jenny Deist (54.78) gave FIU half the top eight. Rice and Marshall each have two swimmers in that final.
But in the 200 free, Marshall has zero, Rice has two and FIU's got the top three ("hee-hee!"*): sophomore Kyna Periera (1:49.01), sophomore Skye Carey (1:49.38), senior Jessica Piper (1:49.61).
Those are the same team breakdowns for the 100 backstroke top eight, where FIU freshman Naomi Ruele's 53.90 was the second fastest Friday morning behind North Texas freshman Rebeka Bradley's 53.13. Junior Jenny Alfani (53.94) and sophomore Ally Mayhew (56.47) allow FIU to outflank Rice in the top flight. Rice has three swimmers in the second eight. The 100 breaststroke could see a similar points stalemate or close enough for FIU's purposes. Sophomore Chase Harris' 1:03.83 made the top flight, a team bouillabaisse with two parts Rice, two parts North Texas, two parts Old Dominion, one part FIU, one part FAU and no parts Marshall. Freshman Nicole Hunnewell -- Coral Reef High in the house! -- and senior Jessica Chadwick got into the second eight by swimming 1:04.82 and 1:05.91, respectively.
And, even if all this evens out, the 1-meter diving will push FIU farther into the lead on Rice and generally stalemate with Marshall. Quesnel had the top score with Kaufmann sixth, and The Coronado Twins 10th (Natalia) and 11th (Laura).
A good Friday night by FIU won't leave much room for resurrection by Rice or Marshall on Saturday.
*Stolen from Peter Sellers in the original Casino Royale movie, which was, essentially, an Austin Powers movie done during the era of James Bond flicks the Austin Powers movies parodied 30 years later.