LITTLE ROCK - Head coach Amy Burgess and the UALR swimming and diving team will host the seven-team, weekend-long UALR Christmas Invitational beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Donaghey Center Natatorium. The invitational field will include men's and women's teams from Centenary, Delta State, Henderson State, Oklahoma Baptist and Ouachita Baptist, and women's teams only from UALR and FIU.
"We are excited to welcome some great teams to Little Rock this weekend," said Burgess. "We have brought back the UALR Christmas Invite this season and are expecting some exciting swims from everyone involved. Many teams are coming prepared to swim fast and many of our visiting Division II schools are looking to qualify for NCAA Division II Championships. We are also excited to welcome fellow Sun Belt Conference member FIU."
UALR welcomes a talented field to the Donaghey Center Natatorium this weekend. Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State currently find themselves at No. 18 and No. 21, respectively, in the latest CollegeSwimming.com/CSCAA Division-II rankings. Oklahoma Baptist took first place at the UALR Invitational back on Nov. 5, while FIU's women enter the event at No. 24 in the CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major Division I rankings.
UALR's most recent action heading into this weekend's invite was the Western Kentucky-hosted Hilltopper Invitational on Nov. 18-20 in Bowling Green, Ky. The Trojans placed fourth of five teams and garnered 11 top-ten finishes over the course of the three-day event.
Sophomore Kara Raney paced UALR at the Hilltopper Invite by having a hand in five of the Trojans' 11 top-ten finishes. Raney placed fourth in the 100 backstroke (58.61) after earning a sixth-place finish in the 50 freestyle (24.84) the day prior. A native of Kingwood, Texas, Raney also played a key role in three top-ten relay finishes, swimming the anchor leg of the 200 free and 400 medley relays, and leading off the 200 medley relay with the opening backstroke leg.
Sophomore Holly Myers added top-ten finishes in the 100 back and 200 free, while freshman Lexie Keller garnered a ninth-place finish in the 50 free.
This weekend's invitational will be the second of three home events for UALR in the 2011-12 season. The Trojans hosted the UALR
Invitational on Nov. 5 and will host Vanderbilt in a dual meet scheduled for Feb. 3.
Action at the UALR Christmas Invitational will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. with the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays. Prelims will begin Friday at 10 a.m. before finals that evening at 6 p.m. Saturday's prelims will again kick off at 10 a.m., with finals starting at 5 p.m. that evening.
(Source: University of Arkansas at Little Rock Athletics)