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Deeper Albion team beats Belles

Bill Brink | Monday, November 20, 2006

Despite four individual victories on Friday, the Belles lost to Albion College 180-102, dropping their record to 1-4.

Saint Mary’s coach Ryan Dombkowski had an idea of how the meet would play out going into the contest.

“Because swimming is a sport where only one stat matters [time], you can have a pretty good idea about your chances heading into the meet,” he said.

Freshmen Lindsey Nelis, Kayla Ferguson and Sara Niemann and sophomore Melissa Gerbeth each took home individual wins for the Belles. Nelis won the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 2:05.25. Ferguson finished first in the 100-yard backstroke for the second straight meet, winning in 1:05.61. Niemann touched the wall at 2:21.01 to take the 200-yard backstroke.

Gerbeth won the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 18:27.54 seconds, defeating Albion’s talented senior freestyle swimmer Rachel Doherty in the process. She was pleased with the way she swam.

“It was a close race through the 600-yard mark, but then it came down to who had more endurance to maintain their speed,” she said. “Beating Doherty in the 1,650 has given me more confidence that I can beat other tough swimmers.”

These four young swimmers, who have won the majority of events for Saint Mary’s this season, have shown remarkable versatility thus far. Throughout the last three meets, they have combined to win eight different events.

Although the score doesn’t show it, the meet was surprisingly close. Besides the four wins, six individuals and two relay teams came in second, among them freshmen Jennifer Lebiedz, junior Kelly Tighe, Gerbeth and Nelis. Five of those events were lost by a combined total of 9.04 seconds, and the 200-yard freestyle relay team – made up of Niemann, Nelis, Gerbeth and Tighe – lost by just 0.29 seconds.

“Luckily we are going to swim against these girls again at the MIAA conference meet in February,” Gerbeth said. “Knowing that, I think we will all practice a little harder so we beat them in February.”

Gerbeth finished second in the 500-yard freestyle, but was able to set an individual best time of 5:26.85 seconds – 1.39 seconds faster than her previous best.

Albion also scored 17 points in the three-meter diving competition. Saint Mary’s has no divers, and so no Belles competed.

The Belles have a week off before their next meet, the DePauw Invitational on Dec. 1 and 2. DePauw has a record of 4-1 and finished third this weekend in the Wabash Invitational.