The baseball team's Wednesday afternoon playdate with Missouri, ranked in some preseason polls, didn't go as well as their dinner plans with St. Thomas did Tuesday night. But FIU's best program and other 2015 Conference USA champions made up for it Wednesday night.
As the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships opened Wednesday, FIU let the rest of the conference know the title isn't up for grabs -- it must be taken from the Panthers or it's coming back to Camp Mitch. FIU swept the first day's two events, the 200 Medley Relay and the 800 Free Relay, to take a 14-point lead into Thursday against Rice and Marshall.
Here's what should worry Rice and Marshall and give FIU that first bite of Ben & Jerry's feeling: last year, FIU started slowly in the relays.
This year, freshman Naomi Ruele, sophomores Chase Harris and Letizia Bertelli and junior Jenny Deist took the 200 Medley Relay in 1:40.60, 61 hundredths of a second over Marshall which beat Rice by a blink (three hundredths of a second) for second. Bertelli's 23.77 butterfly leg took FIU from fifth to first and Deist's 22.66 freestyle anchor leg brought home the win and a school record, beating the 1:41.78 at last year's conference meet by Silvia Scalia, Klara Andersson, Bertelli and Deist.
The 800 free relay gave everybody else the wake view from sophomore Skye Carey's 1:48.08 opening leg through senior Jessica Piper's 1:49.03, senior Becky Wilde's 1:48.38 and sophomore Kyna Pereira's 1:47.43 anchor leg. The 7:12.92 provided a 4.9-second victory over Rice and was the second fastest in FIU history behind Johanna Gustafsdottir, Sonia Perez, Dani Albright and Marina Ribi at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference meet.
After Missouri slapped around starter Cody Crouse, the baseball team rallied from a 7-1 deficit to 7-6 and had Kolby Follis on third with no outs in the eighth. The inning died with Follis on third, just as the ninth did with a runner on second. Baseball fell to 1-4 going into this weekend's series with Seton Hall.