Kuras wins third straight Most Outstanding Swimmer award; Bulls finish fifth
The women’s swimming and diving team competed in the MAC Championships in Geneva, Ohio, Saturday. Senior Brittney Kuras (foreground) was named the MAC’s Most Outstanding Swimmer for the third year in a row. Courtesy of UB Athletics
By the time of the 400-yard freestyle relay - the final event of this past weekend's women's Mid-American Conference Championships at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio - the Bulls' goal of winning a team MAC title was out of reach.
But that was no reason for Buffalo to give up in the last event.
"If you can't win the whole thing, you want to win the last event," head coach Andy Bashor said to his team.
The relay team, composed of junior Spencer Rodriguez, junior Taylor Steffl, senior Marissa Murphy and senior Brittney Kuras, followed Bashor's creed, putting an exclamation point on the weekend with a first-place performance that was a school, meet, MAC and pool record.
Buffalo finished fifth as a team but won eight of the 20 events. Junior Jessica Powers, Kuras and Rodriguez garnered individual victories. The Bulls finished first in the 800-yard freestyle relay along with their 400-yard freestyle relay win.
Kuras finished her exceptional MAC career with her third straight MAC Most Outstanding Swimmer award. She is the fourth swimmer in MAC history to win the award three times.
She won all three individual events she swam - the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard freestyle. Kuras' 100-yard freestyle time of 48.5 qualified her for the NCAA championship meet and broke her own school record. It was the fastest time in the history of the MAC. She also anchored the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays.
"She's come in ready to practice and putting in that work over the spring and summers and it really paid off," Bashor said. "That 100-yard freestyle was a very special swim for her to go 48.5 and that will qualify her for NCAAs. It is great for her to be here three years and be in NCAAs all three years."
Powers won two events, placing first in the 1,650-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. She also finished second in the 200-yard freestyle behind Kuras.
Bashor made sure to point out Rodriguez's performance as well. Rodriguez finished second behind Kuras in the 200-yard individual medley and won the 400-yard individual medley. But Bashor was most impressed with her ability to bounce back on Saturday. Rodriguez finished fourth in the 1,650-yard freestyle and three hours later led off the Bulls' victorious 400-yard freestyle relay.
Kuras, Rodriguez and Powers were all named to the All-MAC first team and Steffl was named to the All-MAC second team. Steffl finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and also scored points in the 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle.
Though Kuras is graduating, the squad's performance has Bashor excited for the future.
"We had a lot of great individual performances, but we need more of them and we have that ability but it just didn't show up," Bashor said. "There were a lot of really good swims in there that we can continue to build off of."
Bashor pointed to MAC champion Akron as a blueprint of success for the Bulls. Akron finished seventh last season but came in first this year. Bashor attributed this to a higher level of competition in the MAC.
The men's team will host its MAC Championships next Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Alumni Arena. Kuras will compete in the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., which begin March 20.
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