Friday, November 5, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 54

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About the Cougar

UH swimming and diving to compete in Fayetteville

By Keenan Singleton
Daily Cougar Staff

After an impressive showing last weekend against the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana State, the UH swimming and diving team is poised to continue its early season success against Arkansas and Drury.

Drury, which won the Division II national championship last year, is a squad that the Cougars should be able to defeat.

The UH swimming team (above) and diving team will take part in two meets this weekend, both at Fayetteville. The Cougars will take on Arkansas at 7 p.m. today and Drury at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

UH easily defeated ULM 71-36, but succumbed to LSU 65-47 on Oct. 29.

After posting career bests, freshmen Falon Hopkins (100-yard butterfly) and Jessica Blake (100-yard backstroke) said they are looking forward to next weekend's meet.

Hopkins swam a time of 57.61, while Blake achieved a time of 58.94 in Baton Rouge.

Blake, who hails from London, Ontario, qualified for the Canadian Senior National Championships.

She seems confident, but respects Drury's talent.

"I think they are a pretty good team," Blake said. "We have had team meetings and gone over the results from their previous meets and they have some decent times, but we should be able to beat them."

Jessica Blake

The kinesiology major saw nothing but positives from last week's meet.

"We lost LSU by 18 points," Blake said, "but I thought it was a really good meet. A lot of the races we close, so I'm happy with that."

Individually, Blake's progress this season has been phenomenal.

"I'm really pleased with how I'm swimming right now," she said. "The first meet of the season produced my best time, but I still look at getting faster."

Danielle Ruggaino, a fabulous freshman from Delaware, is a sprinter who got the Cougars' second-best time 55.82 in the 100 freestyle against ULM and LSU.

"We swam really good," Ruggaino said. "We were outnumbered by LSU, but overall swimming-wise, we are satisfied."

Ruggaino and the rest of the team appear to be pumped up about this weekend's meets against Arkansas and Drury.

"We're real excited," she said. "We have a good chance of beating Arkansas, so it's going to be mainly us against Drury.

"(Drury) has gotten really good over the past year. We're more up for this meet than the last one," she said.

Ruggiano, called "Dee" by her friends, said she thinks the team is prepared for competing with the Arkansas Razorbacks.

"They beat us by a couple of points last year," she said, "so we're really looking forward to swimming (against) them this year."

On the diving front, the dynamic duo of seniors Cristi Christensen (three-meter) and Yolanda Hernandez-Casas (one-meter) already met the Dual Meet qualifying standards when they visited Baton Rouge last weekend.

This rare feat affords the Cougars the luxury of focusing on making the NCAA Championships. 

UH diving coach Jane Figueirido is anxious to compete against Drury.

"We're looking forward to competing against Drury because we have never competed against them before," she said.

However, Figueirido has not forgotten about the Razorbacks.

"Arkansas is always tough," Figueiredo said. "They are in our zone meet, but these are early season meets, so they don't mean a whole lot."

Jane Figueirdo

The UH coach of 10 years was so disgusted with preseason practices that she actually walked out of one.

But after the impressive show the diving team put on, she couldn't be anything but content.

"I was extremely satisfied," she said. "I was so upset because they (weren't) getting ready -- mentally ready. We got lucky."

UH head swimming coach Ginger Hurley has started her fourth year at UH on a good note.

"Last week's match was outstanding," Hurley said. "We had five different people with best times, which is pretty unheard of in a first meet."

Hurley said she thinks the team is farther along in their progress than last year.

"On paper, we match up pretty well against Arkansas and we should beat Drury, even though they were Division II champions," she said. "We just need the girls to step up and beat some people we aren't supposed to beat."

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