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Belles win big over RHIT

Bill Brink | Monday, November 13, 2006

Impressive individual performances led the Belles to their first victory of the season, a 114-77 win over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

54 of those 114 points were accounted for by wins in individual events. Freshmen Sara Niemann, Kayla Ferguson, and Lindsey Nelis and sophomore Melissa Gerbeth all took first in at least one of their races.

“This win was an achievement for everyone involved with Saint Mary’s swimming,” Niemann said. “As a team, we’ve been working very hard over the past few months to become more competitive. Personally, I was thrilled that the team could accomplish such a goal.”

Gerbeth won the 200-yard individual medley, finishing in 2:23.38, and also took the 500-yard freestyle. She touched the wall at 5:28.24, eleven seconds ahead of the rest of her competition.

Gerbeth understood the importance of her race.

“I went into it knowing I had to win the race and there was no other way around it,” she said. “I knew I had to do it for my team and I did not want to let them down. I got in the water and swam as fast as I could.”

Niemann took first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 58.78 seconds. She also won the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 2:04.37.

“I’ve been putting a lot of work at practice, plus lifting weights with the team throughout the week,” Niemann said. “The coaches have also really been working with me to improve certain aspects of my races. These things all came together on Saturday so I was able to have a really successful meet.”

Ferguson placed first in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:05.43, and Nelis won the 1000-yard freestyle in 11:30.40. Nelis also finished second behind Gerbeth in the 500-yard freestyle.

“Going into this meet we knew we had a chance to win it so we were all excited and pumped up,” she said. “We all came together and won as a team. There was a lot more cheering at this meet and an overall better attitude.”

Although individual races dominated the meet, the Belles relay teams performed equally well. The 200 medley relay all-freshmen ‘A’ team, composed of Ferguson, Jennifer Lebiedz, Katie Carroll and Meredith Lierz, took first place. The ‘B’ team, which included freshmen Jackie Corey and Laura Piccioli and sophomores Shannon Hansen and Leah Bocinsky, came in second, right behind them.

As Belles coach Ryan Dombkowski had predicted, wins were not the only factor in the meet that brought Saint Mary’s the victory. Forty points were accounted for by second- or third-place finishes.

Saint Mary’s training and lifting has paid off; three Belles set new personal bests on Saturday. Gerbeth dropped her 500 free time 3.63 seconds, Ferguson dropped her 100 backstroke time 2.99 seconds and Niemann lowered her 200 free time 2.66 seconds.

The Belles face Albion College (1-1) in Albion, Mich. this Friday.