Illinois-Oakland Dual Meet Comes Down To Last Two Events

ROCHESTER, Michigan, October 26. DESPITE finishing second to Illinois in the final 400 freestyle relay, the Oakland University women’s swimming and diving team had already built enough of a lead to hold off the Illini, 153.5-144.5, on Saturday afternoon. Illinois, which just won a couple of close meets last night, came up short this time around.

Oakland Press Release

A total team effort that included a backstroke sweep by Karin Tomeckova and two wins in the butterfly by Julia Vela lifted the Oakland women’s swimming and diving team to a 153.5-144.5 victory over visiting Illinois Saturday afternoon at the OU Aquatics Center.

“I think it was a great team effort today,” head coach Pete Hovland said. “I’m really pleased with the way the team accepted this challenge. This is the kind of meet we need to have, and these are the kind of results we need to post if we’re going to continue to grow as a team and as a program.”

Tomeckova, who did not compete last weekend, first won the 100 back with a time of 56.94, winning by over one second. She then added the 200 back victory with a time of 2:03.86. In both backstroke events, Oakland finished 1-2: Kyra Rietveld captured second in the 100 back, finishing in 58.18, while Patricia Aschan took second in the 200 with a time of 2:05.33.

In the butterfly, Vela turned in times of 57.44 in the 100 and 2:07.90 in the 200. In the 100, Vela out-touched Illinois’ Sarah Sykstus by two hundredths of a second to capture nine critical points late in the meet. The 200 butterfly marked the third of three consecutive 1-2 finishes for Oakland early in the meet that helped the Golden Grizzlies stay ahead of Illinois. Emily Ludema was second for OU with a 2:08.37 time in the 200 fly to finish the 1-2 punch.

Diver Tricia Grant was also a two-time winner for Oakland with stellar performances on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. In the 1-meter, her back 1 1/2 with a 1 1/2 twist scored two 8.0s from the judges on the way to a 303.98. Grant was victorious on the 3-meter with a score of 291.75.

Oakland was victorious in nine individual events and the meet-opening 200 yard medley relay. The Golden Grizzlies quartet of Tomeckova, Melissa VanderMeulen, Vela and Nikki Flynn hammered out a time of 1:45.83 to start the meet.

“We talk a lot about how that first relay is so important,” Hovland said. “They raced extremely well and that kind of set the stage.”

From there, all four of the winning medley swimmers would add at least one individual victory. Along with Tomeckova and Vela’s two wins, VanderMeulen claimed her first breaststroke win of her young career with a time of 1:04.57 in the 100 breast, leading four Oakland swimmers among the top five finishes in the event. Takara Martin was second with a time of 1:05.04, while Rachel Waite also earned points with her fourth-place finish in a time of 1:08.09.

Flynn led the way with a 52.15 in the 100 freestyle, her third win in the event this season. Aschan was Oakland’s final individual winner on the day with her first-place effort in the 400 IM, where she posted a time of 4:27.82.

Oakland returns to the OU Aquatic Center Saturday, Nov. 2 when both the men and the women will take on Wright State at 1 p.m.

Illinois Press Release

The Illinois swimming and diving team came up just short on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 153.5-144.5 decision to Oakland University. Oakland outtouched the Illini by fewer than five-tenths of a second in three events, and the Grizzlies needed all three events to edge the Illini by nine points. The Illini were competing fewer than 18 hours after last night’s sweep of Michigan State and Liberty.

“Today, we did not rebound well from the big wins last night,” head coach Sue Novitsky said. “We were sluggish and had low energy. Oakland was ready to go and put together a very strong meet from start to finish. We did not swim a very clean meet and the lack of attention to detail definitely cost us some close races. We have to use this as a learning experience and keep figuring out how to make adjustments mid-meet. We can be better at keeping our focus and competing even if we don’t feel great. We will go back to work and keep on putting the pieces into place.”

The Illini (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) picked up six wins on the day, including two distance freestyle events in which they swept the top three spots. The meet started with the 200-yard medley relay. Oakland won the event by .39 seconds over Illinois’ Alison Meng, Isabella Schamber, Lori Lynn and Annie Goering.

In the second event, Kayla Dlugopolski, Megan Marchuk and Alyssa Toland swept the top three spots in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Dlugopolski cruised to the event win by nearly five seconds, swimming almost three seconds faster in the event than she did yesterday’s meet.

Courtney Pope and Amelia Schilling took the top two spots in the 200-yard freestyle, with Pope winning in a time of 1:52.86. Lori Lynn took third place in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 58.65. Schamber took third in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:07.91.

Hailey Booth swam the 200-yard butterfly in 2:09.58 to finish third, followed closely by Erica Lynn, who finished fourth in 2:09.97. Meng won the 50 free in 24.37, while Anne Goering finished in third (24.96).

Meng just missed a sprint freestyle sweep, finishing second in the 100-yard freestyle (52.53) by just .38 seconds. Jessica Holz finished third (53.28), and Goering (54.39) finished fourth.

In the 200-yard backstroke, freshmen Gabbie Stecker (2:07.42) and Amelia Schilling (2:07.92) finished third and fourth, respectively. In the following event, it was a senior, Erica Lynn, who won, cruising to the win in 2:19.84. Stephanie Hein, (2:28.97) finished fifth.

The Illini swept the top three spots in their second event of the day in the 500-yard freestyle. Pope won her second event of the day, winning by more than three seconds in a time of 5:06.24. Megan Marchuk (5:09.46) and Mary Beth Howard (5:10.49) finished second and third. Alyssa Toland (5:17.17) finished fourth.

“Courtney Pope was a leader for us today, winning two events and leading off our freestyle relay,” Novitsky said. “Erica Lynn had a strong 200 breaststroke and swam a best time in the 200 butterfly.”

The Illini suffered a heartbreaker in the 13th event of the meet, the 100-yard butterfly. Sarah Sykstus (57.46) lost the event by just two-hundredths of a second to Oakland’s Julia Vela (57.44). Hailey Booth (59.37 finished third for the Illini.

Lori Lynn (4:32.48) finished second in the 400-yard individual medley, followed closely by teammate Stecker (4:32.60).

Illinois closed the meet on a winning note, taking the 200-yard freestyle relay title. Pope, Meng, Sabrinne Gibson and Marchuk (1:36.27) won the event, while Marchel Burke, Holz, Goering and Howard (1:37.52) finished third.

In diving, Olivia Kassouni finished second in the three-meter dive, scoring 229.20. Erika Murphy (218.93), Emily Fung (196.50) and Jessica Clifford (167.63) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. In the one-meter dive, Murphy finished second (231.60), with Kassouni (222.53), Fung (214.80) and Clifford (204.38) finishing third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Illini host their first regular season meet of the season on Friday, Nov. 1. Illinois State comes to the ARC pool to face Illinois. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m. and admission is free.

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