Lavigna's solid finish lifts Tigers

Sunday, February 15, 2009 | 8:57 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 17, 2009

COLUMBIA – Sophomore Lauren Lavigna helped the Missouri swimming team earn its fourth medal at the 2009 Missouri Grand Prix by placing second Sunday in the women's 200-meter backstroke, touching in 2 minutes, 13.79 seconds.

"That was unbelievable," said Missouri coach Brian Hoffer, while embracing Lavigna. "Good job!"

Lavigna swam two seconds faster than her time in the preliminary session, and a total of six seconds faster than her previous best. Lavigna's time also qualified her for an NCAA "B" cut, which gives her the chance of getting an invitation to the NCAA Championship meet.

"I don't really believe it yet," Lavigna said.

A few minutes later in the men's "A" final, freshman Jan Konarzewski was fifth in 2:04.35, also for a personal best.

Two events later, sophomore Melissa Jamerson finished seventh in the women's 200-meter butterfly in 2:16.46.

In the same heat, four-time NCAA champion Mary Descenza gathered her fifth gold of the meet, and second of the night in 2:07.46. She also won the women's 200-meter backstroke in 2:11.06.

"After a fast meet like that, I'm pretty happy," Descenza said.

Olympic gold medal winners American Ryan Lochte and Tunisian Ous Mellouli won their events. Lochte swam a 1:57.73 in the men's 200-meter backstroke, while Mellouli turned in a 15:16.12 in the men's 1500-meter freestyle. French Olympian Fred Bousquet won the men's 100-meter freestyle in 48.62.

Finals for the last session of the 2009 Missouri Grand Prix start 9 a.m. Monday.


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