CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, November 4. THE Fighting Illini swimming and diving team improved to 1-2 on the season, downing Michigan State, 155.5-144.5, at McCaffree Pool Friday night. The Illini claimed victories in six events, including the 400 free relay to clinch the meet, which was tied entering the final event.
“Typically our competitions with Michigan State are very close and very tightly matched, and this one was no different,” Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said.”We won both relays, so that was a step in the right direction for us and was especially huge today since the meet was being decided by the 400 freestyle relay. Whoever won the relay was going to win the meet, and we had our four girls on our A relay step up. They were relaxed, and got the job done, so that was very good to see.”
Leading the Illini against the Jayhawks was junior Courtney Pope, who swam to first-place finishes in the 200 free (1:53.81) and the 500 free (5:05.39), as well as being a part of the meet-winning 400 free relay team.Sophomore Jessica Holz continued her streak, winning the 200 back (2:04.86) for the third meet in a row and placing second in the 100 back (58.54).
Also posting first-place finishes for the Illini weresenior Brittany McGowan, who captured first-place in the 100 fly (57.74) and was a member of the winning 400 free relay team, junior Kathleen Knight, who won the 200 fly (2:06.80) and freshman Alison Meng, who earned first in the 100 back (57.53) and second in the 100 fly (58.02).
“Courtney Pope had some good swims today,” Novitsky said. “Jessica Holz was able to keep her streak alive, and Alison Meng had a great day. [Meng] really bounced back this week and had a great meet. There was good point production from everybody. We had a lot of people contributing all over the place, and that’s what we are looking for.”
Four Orange and Blue swimmers finished the day with two second-place finishes each. Senior Torrey Loper came in second in the 500 free (5:05.96) and the 1000 free (10:21.04), while classmate April McKee finished second in the 200 free (1:54.55) and the 200 IM (2:07.59). Junior Erin Lamb posted second-place finishes in the 50 free (24.40) and the 100 free (52.49), and fellow classmate Erica Lynn earned second in the 100 breast (1:06.45) and 200 breast (2:22.54).
Three additional Illini posted top-three finishes, including senior Kristen Manias, who earned third in both the 100 back (58.98) and 100 free (52.73). Classmate Kelly Kunkel finished third in the 200 free (1:54.82), and junior Erin Rodriguez captured third-place in the 200 fly (2:09.05).
The Illini relay teams captured first and third place in both the 200 medley (1:46.78, 1:48.40) and the 400 free (3:28.29, 3:34.84), with the top finish in the 400 free sealing the meet for the Illini.
On the boards, senior Britni Fisher and junior Darragh McDermott led the Illini with the team’s top scores on their one and three-meter dives. Fisher placed fourth in both events with a score of 274.79 on the one-meter board and a 287.4 on the three-meter board. McDermott finished fifth with scores of 249.97 and 273.68 on her one- and three-meter dives, respectively.
“We won six events overall, so Michigan State was able to win the majority of the events, but unlike the past few weekends, we were able to get more points in the second, third, fourth areas,” Novitsky said. “That really helped out in the end. I was very happy with how the girls raced. They were a lot more calm, focused and let the swims happen. They had a lot of very smart races, so it was good to see them execute a lot better this week, and now we have to turn around and do it again tomorrow.”
The Orange and Blue will travel to Chicago to take on Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the team’s first tri-meet of the season tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. CT.
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