BLOOMINGTON, IN, February 17. THE Penn State 200-yard medley relay team broke its own Big Ten Championship, and conference record but the Nittany Lions sit one point out of first place after the first day of the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships on Wednesday, per reports from both PSU and host Indiana U.
No. 14 Penn State has 72 points, one point behind defending champion Michigan. Wisconsin is third with 67, Indiana is fourth with 58 and Purdue is fifth with 56.
”We got off to a good start," said Penn State head coach Bill Dorenkott. "It was the most points we've ever scored on Day 1 of the Big Ten Championships. I'm pleased in terms of each session counting, and we need to maximize our opportunities, and I feel we did that today."
The championships will continue with preliminaries at 11 a.m. Thursday. The finals session will begin at 7 p.m.
Junior Sarah Haupt (Carlisle, Pa.), senior Kristen Woodring (Sinking Spring, Pa.), junior Amberle Biedermann (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and senior Deirdre Dlugonski (Washington, Pa.) broke their own Big Ten Championship record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:39.06, beating their time from last year's championships (1:39.22). The time of 1:39.06, which is an NCAA qualifying time, also set a pool record at Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center, and it was just .04 seconds off school-record pace.
"I was surprised, I was impressed and I was also very proud of those four ladies," Dorenkott said. "Probably the greatest compliment you can pay that group is that they are very mature and experienced, and they came ready to go."
Preyss swam the first leg of the 800 freestyle relay team, which finished third in 7:16.23, and she was followed by sophomore Erin Morris (Ft. Wayne, Ind.), sophomore Nikki Collins (Carmel, Ind.) and freshman Molly Crispell (Boalsburg, Pa.). Preyss swam her leg in a school-record time of 1:47.33, breaking Fran McDermid's 13-year-old record of 1:47.61.
"I'm pleased with that 800 freestyle relay time," Dorenkott added. "We came into the meet with the goal of improving our freestyle relays, and hopefully this will set the tone."
With the win in the 200 medley relay, Woodring and Biedermann became eight-time Big Ten Champions, while Haupt and Dlugonski won their seventh titles.
Preyss broke McDermid's 200 freestyle record, which was set in 1992. McDermid was a former Penn State All-American and a U.S. National Team Member.
The host school provided post-session quotes from some of the competitors and coaches including team leader and 800 Free relay champions Michigan and their coach Jim Richardson and contributors to the school record 200 medley relay for host Indiana.
Michigan Head Coach Jim Richardson on winning the 800-yard freestyle relay:
"That relay has not been healthy all year. The leadoff leg, Amy McCullough, got mono in late October. She still wasn't herself until early January. Susan Gilliam, the third leg, was diagnosed with shingles before we left Ann Arbor. We had a freshman on the end, Justin Mueller, who had never been faster than 1:52 in her life. Lindsay (Smith), in the second leg, had been training really well but hadn't put it together yet. There were a lot of question marks about that relay coming in and I think they answered all of them."
On leading after the first day being a springboard start to defending their Big Ten title:
"I honestly don't worry about winning titles and meets. I understand it is there, but I don't think about it. We just think about trying to swim fast. We want to prepare to have every person swim fast. I don't care whether it is the fastest person on the team or not. Each of them needs to prepare to swim faster than they ever have before. If we have a team good enough to win it all, then hopefully it will happen. If we don't, we will shake the hands of the team that does."
Michigan's Amy McCullough on winning the 800-yard freestyle relay:
"It has been a long year for me and a lot of the team. We haven't rested at all and we put a lot of faith in our training. It is great to finally see the results we have been hoping for. Tonight, both relays stepped up and went faster than we could have imagined. My one big goal for Big Tens was to stand on top of the podium. So, I have three more days to make some new goals."
On qualifying for NCAAs and winning a Big Ten title:
"Qualifying for NCAAs is always a little nerve-wracking. I am glad to have it out of the way. Now I can just focus on swimming as fast as I can the rest of the week. Hopefully, I can pull out some good swims and get faster and faster as the meet goes along."
Indiana's Erin Smith on setting the 200-yard medley school record:
"I was actually very surprised, because we had more of a breaststroker last year than we did this year. We all pulled it together and Kristen did an awesome job considering that she isn't a sprinter or a breaststroker. It was great."
Indiana's Kristen Bradley on setting the 200-yard medley school record:
"The placing was all right, I actually haven't been on the relay the past few years. It is good because I actually went a second faster than I did in season and we got the record. Actually, all of us swam faster and we got the record, so we were pretty happy."
Indiana's Leila Vaziri on her swims in the 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays:
"I think I got myself a little too pumped up for the 50 back in the medley relay. In the 800 free, we all wanted to place better with better times, but it is the first night and hopefully we will get better every session."
On the 800-yard freestyle:
"The 800 could have been a lot better, but it is all right. We still have a whole meet ahead of us and I have a lot of events still to come."
Indiana Head Coach Dorsey Tierney on the first night of the Big Ten Championships:
"I was very pleased with our 200 medley. They set a school record, and I liked the aggressiveness they swam with. The 800 free relay – we were not very smart, tactically. It is a very strategic race, and we had some inexperience on it."
On improving the rest of the championships:
"I like where we are right now. We are trying to take it one session at a time and trying to be the best every session. That is the only way we can do it. We prepare ourselves mentally so that once a session is over, it is done and we forget about it."
Women's Championship Standings
Team Scores: 1. Michigan, 73; 2. Penn State, 72; 3. Wisconsin, 67; 4. Indiana, 58; 5. Purdue, 56; 6. Minnesota, 50; 7. Iowa, 42; 8. Illinois, 38; 9. Northwestern, 36; 10. Ohio State and Michigan State, 34.