Fighting Illini Edge Out Michigan State, Set ARC Pool Records

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, October 26. THE Fighting Illini swimming and diving team improved to 1-1 on the season after narrowly defeating the Michigan State Spartans, 153-147, on Friday afternoon at the ARC Pool. The Orange and Blue secured eight first-place finishes in the victory while setting new ARC Pool records in the 100 back (56.25) and 200 free relay (1:35.00).

“We tried to look at where Michigan State is strong and make the best possible match-ups,” Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said. “They have some great freestyle sprinters, so we had to counter that and find the events where we could sort of punch it out with them a little bit. Our divers came up big getting second, third and fourth in both events, which was great to see. It was a total team effort.”

Juniors Courtney Pope and Erica Lynn led the Illini with wins in two individual events apiece, while Pope was also part of both winning relay teams. Pope took first place in the 200 free (1:52.88) and 500 free (5:00.55), while Lynn captured first in the 100 breast (1:05.87) and 200 breast (2:21.77).

Sophomore Alison Meng broke the ARC Pool record in the 100 back (56.25) and was also part of the record-setting 200 free relay team, joined by senior Kimberly Kalenda, sophomore Megan Marchuk and Pope. The relay team of Meng, freshman Isabella Schamber, freshman Sarah Sykstus and Pope won the 200 medley relay (1:45.98). For the second straight meet, senior Kathleen Knight took first in the 200 fly with a time of 2:05.31.

“Pope had a great swim in the 500 free,” Novitsky said. “She was nice and relaxed and had two individual wins and was part of both winning relay teams. It goes with the hard work that she has been putting in in practice. A lot of the things we have been working on her first two years are starting to fall into place.”

Capturing second-place finishes for the Orange and Blue were Megan Marchuk in the 200 free (1:53.65), Kim Kalenda in the 50 free (24.35), freshman Lori Lynn in the 200 back (2:05.71) and Kathleen Knight in the 100 fly (57.54).

The Illini totaled eight third-place finishes, including junior Alyssa Toland in the 1000 free (10:32.46), senior Erin Rodriguez in the 200 fly (2:06.99), Megan Marchuk in the 100 free (53.28), sophomore Mary Beth Howard in the 200 back (2:07.26), sophomore Hailey Booth in the 500 free (5:09.11), Alison Meng in the 100 fly (57.78) and Sarah Sykstus in the 200 IM (2:08.16). The relay team of Lori Lynn, Erica Lynn, Kathleen Knight and Kalenda also took third in the 200 medley relay (1:48.15).

Earning fourth-place finishes for the Fighting Illini were sophomore Kayla Dlugopolski in the 1000 free (10:41.10), Howard in the 200 free (1:54.84), Lori Lynn in the 100 back (58.78) and 200 IM (2:08.57), Schamber in the 100 breast (1:07.45) and Sykstus in the 100 fly (57.89).

Eight Illini swimmers earned points with fifth-place finishes, including junior Cara Chuang in the 100 back (1:00.35), junior Emma Williams in the 200 fly (2:07.52), senior Erin Lamb in the 50 free (24.97), Kalenda in the 100 free (53.52), freshman Sloane McDermott in the 200 back (2:10.58), Schamber in the 200 breast (2:26.96), Toland in the 500 free (5:10.60) and freshman Stephanie Hein in the 200 IM (2:10.00).

On the boards, senior Darragh McDermott placed third in the one-meter dive (231.00) and second in the three-meter dive (264.45), while senior Keri Eberhardt captured second place in the one-meter dive (242.39) and third place in the three-meter dive (239.92). Sophomore Erika Murphy also earned points for the Illini, placing fourth in both the one-meter (225.52) and three-meter dive (232.49).

“To get three records off the board, one by Michigan State and two by us, it was just a great day,” Novitsky said. “We have had very few easy meets against them. A lot of them have been just like today where it came down to the last relay. We always seem to compete well against Michigan State. It's all about getting the team ready, being tough, competing hard and putting those races together. We took another good step forward today, and we just seemed to be a lot sharper. We are laying down a great foundation as the season goes on, and I am happy to see that.”

The Orange and Blue will return to action against Illinois State on Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in Normal, Illinois.

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