By Bill Bell
BLOOMINGTON, IN., Feb. 17. IT wasn't the "piece of cake" it's been in previous seasons but Coach Bill Richardson's Michigan Lady Wolverines climbed back atop the rest of the Big 10 here this weekend by squeaking past a determined Penn State squad, 582-557 for the school's 13th Big 10 Championship since 1987.
Michigan last won the conference title in 1997-98.
Penn State, under the guidance of former men's assistant Bill Durenkott, scored its highest and best finish ever — second-place — and had a pair of individual champions too, another first for the Nittany Lions' program.
Going into Saturday's finals Michigan trailed its Pennsylvania rival by 10 points, but a big 48 points in the opening event — the 1650 free — erased that deficit and the Wolverines were never headed thereafter. Michigan's top scorer here was Lori Eberwein in fourth. She is the kid sister of former Northwestern All-America Jen.
No Big 10 records were set on the final evening of competition but there were some fine times turned in, including Indiana's Jenn Christy's winning 100 free clocking (49.14); Northwestern freshman Vicki West's 16:17.20 pr and seasonal-best to win the mile; the Wildcats' Tashy Bohm's seasonal-best/pr 1:57.60 to win the 200 back. A senior, Bohm scored her first conference
Penn State freshman Corrie Clark raced to a pr and school-record 2:12.16 to win the 200 breast, trailed by teammate Kristen Woodring's 2:13.43. Woodring went a pr 2:13.34 in the prelims. Iowa's Melissa Loehdorff's 200 fly win (2:00.14) was her pr and a school record too.
Although she didn't win tonight Michigan senior Jen Crisman, who won the 100 back-fly double on Friday, accomplished a feat done only by seven other swimmers in Big 10 history by winning her fourth-consecutive championship in the backstroke.
Her 53.99 clocking is a Big 10 and Michigan school record too, and she'll be among the favorites come NCAAs next month.
Indiana's Dorsey Tierney was named coach of the meet for her team's surprise third-place finish.