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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sports

Swimming & diving host Mustangs in post-championship rematch


Micaela Bouter and the swimming and diving team will face an SMU Mustangs team that will be hungry to test them after placing second at conference last year. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

Ninety-six points. That was the margin by which the Cougar swimming and diving team won the American Athletic Conference title in February. In total, the team scored 772 points against the SMU Mustangs’ 676.

Friday marks the first time the Cougars and Mustangs face each other since that day eight months ago. The Mustangs are still one of the top teams in the AAC and will be a strong, early test to the Cougars’ quest to repeat as champions.

The Cougars are led by redshirt senior diver Micaela Bouter. Her senior year took off to a strong start against Incarnate Word last week when she was named the American Athletic Conference Diver of the Week after she won the 3-meter dive and placed second in the 1-meter dive.

This marks the ninth time Bouter has been given the honor. For an athlete who has made a habit of collecting awards, this only adds to her list.

But SMU presents itself as a perfect folly to the Cougars. The Mustangs have the numbers and talent to compete with the Cougars in every event.

Swimmer Matea Samardzic is the clear leader on the Mustangs squad. Samardzic was the 2017 American Athletic Conference’s Most Outstanding Swimmer. Her individual victories in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke were two of the main resources keeping the Mustangs in the title hunt.

In total, Samardzic was named all-conference in six events and used her success at conference to qualify for the NCAA championships. Now in her senior year with the Mustangs, she is the clear leader on the squad.

Last year, the Mustangs had eight athletes named to the all-conference team, but four were seniors, and two are no longer on the squad. That leaves Samardzic as the figurehead for the Mustangs.

Following her performance at the SMU Classic, Samardzic was named the American Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week. This is the third time she has been awarded the honor throughout her career.

Though Bouter and Samardzic will not be competing against each other, their impressive resumes and performances in the pool distinguish them. With each team likely to push the other to its very best, it is possible a person from either squad will have earned another conference athlete of the week award.

The swim meet beings at 6 p.m. Friday at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium.

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