Emmabeth Jensen
Rick Yeatts

Swimming & Diving Wins North Texas Relays

DENTON - The Mean Green swimming & diving team opened the 2018-19 season as winners of the annual North Texas Relays on Friday at the Pohl Recreation Center.

"We didn't hold anything back in training this week, so I expected them to be tired," head coach Brittany Roth said, "but a lot of them swam faster than their time trial at the beginning of the season. I'm happy about where we're going to go from here."

UNT finished with 206 points, followed by Little Rock with 130 and Oklahoma Baptist with 74. The Mean Green were victorious in eight of the 10 events, including all five freestyle relays.

"We've got a lot of familiar blood in those events," Roth said. "We graduated a lot of talent with Isabelle Morris, but I'm excited to see some of the freshman step into those positions and have the returners show them the way."

Sophomore Leigh Faires McGee, the team's fastest swimmer in five freestyle events in her freshman season, was a member of winning groups in the 800-, 500-, 400- and 200-yard freestyle relays on Friday.

"It was hard, honestly," McGee said. "I was a little nervous for this meet, because I had a long lineup. There was a little pressure after last season, but I'm ready to do better."

The Mean Green showed depth in the distance freestyle races as freshmen Jordan Gorham and Bryanna Vasquez contributed to victories in the 800- and 3x500-yard freestyle relays. Vasquez picked up another win as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay.

"We have a great distance freestyle group now," McGee said. "I get to train with them and they're a lot of fun to work with."

Roth got a chance to see 11 of her 12 newcomers in action, led by freshman Karigan Stanley, who helped North Texas to first-place finishes in the 200-yard butterfly relay, 800-yard freestyle relay and the 4x100-yard individual medley relay.

"She's got a lot of versatility and she showed that today," Roth said.

"It was really fun," Stanley said. "It made me happy to get a couple wins, because I have to prove myself as a freshman."

Senior Meaghan Rousset was the only returner on the 3x100-yard breaststroke relay, along with newcomers Brooke Beddingfield and Ula Michalczyk, and the group took second behind OBU. Beddingfield recorded the fastest split with a time of 1:06.19.

"We got to see what the newcomers have got," Roth said. "Brooke stood out to me. She's a good little racer."

Even with a hefty lead going into the final event, the team showcased its chemistry and spirit during the final race with everyone on the bench jumping and yelling as the Mean Green won the 400-yard freestyle relay by just .19 seconds.

"That's my favorite part of coaching," Roth said. "The message since day one is that we're in it together. It is an individual sport, but we've peppered in activities to get them to rely on one another and work together. There's a lot of good chemistry with this group."

Senior Emmabeth Jensen, who swam anchor in the event, thrived in the moment and used her team's support to give her the final push to touch the wall first.

"I love when they put me on the anchor," Jensen said. "The crowd got so loud and it got me hyped. My heart rate was up. Coach has been getting us to not breathe over the last five yards into the wall, and it paid off today."

North Texas begins dual-meet action with a rematch with Little Rock at 11 a.m. Oct. 6 at the Donaghey Aquatic Center in Little Rock, Ark.
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