Columbus, Ohio - San Jose State University sprint standout Brie Marhenke finished 18th during preliminaries of the 50 freestyle event on day one of the 2008 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday, March 20, missing a shot at an evening finals berth by merely .03 seconds.
The event is taking place through Saturday, March 22, at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio, with The Ohio State University serving as the host institution.
Marhenke, a senior out of Carmichael, Calif., raced 22.49, the 18th-fastest mark among the 69 student-athletes who posted times. Just ahead of her in a tie for 16th place were Taylor Baughman of Arizona and Jackie Vavrek of Wisconsin, their identical times of 22.46 edging Marhenke out of a swim-off for the consolation final by just .03 seconds. The top eight from prelims compete in the championship final in the evening, with all eight swimmers earning All-America status, while places nine through 16 from the morning, compete in the consolation final and earn honorable mention All-America. Marhenke swam in the ninth and final prelim heat, the second-fastest heat of the session, sprinting out in 11.52 seconds over the first 25 yards.
“I had so much fun,” said Marhenke. “It was a great day and a great experience. I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to come back to Nationals.”
In her first appearance at the NCAA Championships back in 2006, as the first Spartan representative there since Charlotte Pierce in 2000, Marhenke entered prelims in the 50 free as the 10th seed with a then-school-record time of 22.54, and raced 22.83 to place 17th, just .01 seconds off a top-16 finals spot.
Marhenke’s prelim time of 22.49 in her return trip to the national meet, bettered both her prelim and finals mark from the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Championship, of 22.88 and 22.65, respectively, but fell .07 seconds short of matching her school-record mark of 22.42, which got her to Ohio. The 22.42 was the NCAA automatic qualifier that Marhenke needed, achieving it at the Last Chance Invite in Long Beach, Calif., on Sunday, March 2.
California junior Madison Kennedy produced the top preliminary time of a pool-record 21.87 in the event and will enter the championship final this evening as the top seed. A total of 10 competitors bettered the previous pool record.
The NCAA Championships are not yet over for Marhenke, as she will swim the 100 freestyle on the event’s last day, Saturday, March 22. Morning prelims will begin at 8:00 a.m. PDT, with the 200 backstroke preceding the 100 freestyle. Marhenke is entered with a qualifying time of 50.23, which is also a school record. The mark puts her as the 69th seed among 90 student-athletes who are entered.
Thursday, March 20 - 50 Freestyle Preliminaries
1. Madison Kennedy, California, 21.87; 2. Lara Jackson, Arizona, 21.98; 3. Kara Denby, Auburn, 22.06; 4. Lacey Nymeyer, Arizona, 22.07; 5. Anna Turner, Arizona, 22.09, 6. Triin Aljand, Texas A&M, 22.11; 7. Anne Marie May, UC Santa Barbara, 22.15; 8. Michele King, Tennessee, 22.23; 9. Christine Magnuson, Tennessee, 22.25; 10. Jennifer Bradford, Kentucky, 22.26; 11. Sara Smith, Virginia Tech, 22.38; 12. Andrea Hupman, Northwestern, 22.38; 13. Hee-jin Chang, Texas, 22.39; 14. Caitlin Andrew, Arizona State, 22.41; 15. Brooke Bishop, Stanford, 22.42; 16. Taylor Baughman, Arizona, 22.46; 17. Jackie Vavrek, Wisconsin, 22.46; 18. Brie Marhenke, San Jose State, 22.49.