Entering the final rounds of the Conference USA Championships on Saturday, UH sat in fourth place needing a strong finish to earn a medal. The Cougars battled hard, but found themselves just outside the top three at the day’s conclusion.
The Cougars hosted the four-day event, facing off against touch competition like SMU, Rice, East Carolina and Marshall. UH finished the meet in fourth place with a score of 533.5 points.
SMU scored 707 points to earn the conference title, while East Carolina finished second with 611. Rice earned 596 points to edge out the Cougars for third.
While the Cougars’ fourth-place finish may have been worse than they expected, UH did have some bright spots that left head coach Mark Taylor beaming with pride. One of Taylor’s least-experienced squads still captured five individual championships.
“We’re probably the youngest team here and although we don’t like to finish in fourth place, this gives us plenty of ammo to go back to the drawing board and get ready for next year,” Taylor said in a release.
Saturday’s performances were no exception. Kim Eeson, who nearly won the 500-yard freestyle event on Thursday, finished the 1650-yard freestyle in fourth with a time of 17:03.16.
Beccy Hillis turned in one of the finest performances of the week in the 200-yard breaststroke, recording an NCAA ‘B’ time of 2:14.99. Hillis’ finish was also the second fastest time in school history.
Reka Kovacs also did well in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing fourth with an NCAA ‘B’ time of 2:16.19.
“We were very proud of Hillis and Kovacs by taking first and fourth in the breaststroke,” Taylor said.
UH performed event better in the diving events.
Anastasia Pozdniakova was named Diver of the Meet after easily winning the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Lacey Truelove won the platform diving event with a score of 339.95, while teammate Julia Lonnegren finished third.
Not surprisingly, head diving coach Jane Figueiredo earned C-USA Diving Coach of the Year honors for the ninth consecutive year.
“For Lacey, to win was a great surprise because the competition was very experienced and Lacey had a few risky, new dives,” Figueiredo said in a release. “She put them in, so we are very happy. Now, we need to start getting ready for the NCAA Championships.”
The NCAA meet, which will be held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., begins March 18.