DAVIE – Florida Southern started the first day of the 2014 Shark Invitational with a win, a meet record, and school record by junior Alli Crenshaw, got another school record from sophomore Cassie Ley, and finished things off with a second-place finish in the 200-medley relay. That put the Moccasins in second place among six teams at the end of the day.
With four events scheduled for Thursday, the Moccasins had the one win from Crenshaw, a pair of seconds, and three fourth-place finishes to help them score 274 points. That put them 70 points behind Tampa, and 27 ahead of third-place Nova Southeastern.
Crenshaw's win came in the 1,000-freestyle where she broke her own meet record in that event with a time of 9:53.07. That was more than seven seconds faster than the time she had posted last year. It was also an NCAA automatic qualifying time for the 2-time 1,000-freestyle national champion, and it established a new school record as well. The junior from Marietta, Georgia had set the old mark (9:57.29) while winning her first national title as a freshman in 2013.
The Moccasins picked up two NCAA "B" times in the 1,000-freestyle too, with sophomore Elizabeth Fris (Holland, Mich.) placing second in 10:20.11, and junior Heather Burns (Lake City, Fla.) placing sixth in 10:24.16.
Ley nearly set another meet record in the 200-IM, and in fact, her time of 2:03.77 would have been just that if not for the winning time posted by Rebecca Matthews of Lynn, who clocked in at 2:02.25. It was still strong enough though to set a new Florida Southern record, breaking the old mark held by Rae-Lynn Sheffield since 2011. The runner-up showing also gave Ley an NCAA "B" qualifying time, and two teammates joined in her in that regard. Freshman Jacinda Whittenburg (Lakewood, Colo.) was fourth in 2:06.34, and junior Morgan Burns (Hilton, N.Y.) was seventh in 2:06.96.
In the 50-freestyle, Florida Southern pushed two swimmers into the A Finals, with juniors Kelsey Gouge (Snellville, Ga.) and Lauren Reynolds (South Elgin, Ill.) placing fourth and eighth respectively. Gouge's time of 23:57 seconds was an NCAA "B" qualifying time for the Mocs.
The last event held Thursday night was the 200-medley relay where Reynolds, Gouge, Ley, and sophomore Alex Ballard (Kingfisher, Okla.) combined for second in a time of 1:44.07. That sliced more than 2½ seconds off their previous best time this season when they'd already achieved an earlier NCAA provisional time. It was also fast enough to break the previous meet record, but Nova Southeastern also broke that mark by winning the relay. No other teams were within 2½ seconds of the top teams from Nova and Florida Southern.
Florida Southern's B team in the event came in seventh out of 17, with sophomore Lily Rose (Rockley, Barbados), Morgan Burns, and sophomores Kourtney Gavin (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Leah Haney (Evans, Ga.) the second of the six B teams entered.
The second day of the Shark Invitational begins Friday morning with prelims at 10:00.