Salukis split dual meet with WKU

By Gus Bode

Men take first, women fall 130-113

Salukis split dual meet with Western Kentucky

Men take first, women fall 130-113

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The SIU swimming and diving team’s dual meet could be characterized by a simple and effective two-word chant, one that was heard over and over Saturday at the Edward J. Shea Natatorium in the Recreation Center.

The Water Dawgs indeed went, putting forth a couple of impressive efforts while splitting the dual against Western Kentucky.

While WKU had the better record coming into the meet, the Saluki men (4-5) clearly outswam the Hilltoppers (5-2), winning 133-107. The Saluki women (3-4) gave the undefeated Hilltopper women (9-0) a tough fight but fell 130-113.

“We were able to start to define our team,” said SIU head coach Rick Walker. “The men were cheering for the women, the women were cheering for the men. That’s a cohesive team, and they need each other in order for us to be successful.”

Walker characterized the men’s triumph as a must win. The men swam with a hint of desperation as their teammates cheered them to victories in nine of 13 events.

Everything came together for the Salukis during the 10 individual events with swimmers from each class excelling, winning all but one.

Junior Jason Sigler, freshmen Gareth McGee and Antonio Santoro each took two events and led SIU.

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The day started unfavorably for the Salukis as a win in the 400-yard medley relay was nullified by disqualification, but the Salukis bounced back as Sigler posted wins in both the 1000-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.

His teammates followed suit.

McGee took the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard backstroke, while Santoro won the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly.

Juniors Bryan Riekena and Miguel King won the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard breaststroke, respectively, while sophomore Ben Palacios picked up his first win as a Saluki in the three-meter dive.

The women led in the team point total for much of the meet, but the WKU women dominated the relays and diving on their way to the victory.

The Saluki women received first-place performances from Gabriela Flores in the 200 butterfly, Briley Bergen in the 500 freestyle and Elizabeth McGowan in the 1000 freestyle. Natalie Kenny won the 200-yard freestyle and fellow senior Rachel Green took the 100-yard freestyle, clocking in with a career-best time of 53.51 seconds.

“I’ll take a loss when the team competes like this against some of the wins we’ve had,” Walker said. “The score didn’t reflect just how close the meet was today.”

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