Nebraska Downs Illinois On Senior Day

Photo Courtesy: Nebraska Athletics

LINCOLN, Nebraska, January 25. THE Nebraska women’s swimming and diving team picked up a win in its final home meet of the season, sending its senior class out on a winning note with a 160-140 win over Illinois. The Cornhuskers won more than half the events, including six in a row, to take down the Fighting Illini.

Nebraska Press Release

Seven different Huskers tallied victories, including a sweep of the diving events, and the Nebraska swimming and diving team held off Illinois 160-140 on Senior Day at the Devaney Natatorium. The Huskers won nine of the meet’s 16 events, with the help of a six event win streak, en route to their second straight victory over the Illini.

The Huskers started strong, winning the meet’s opening event, the 200-yard medley relay by more than a second. The team of Jacqueline Juffer, Shannon Guy, Natalie Morris and Taryn Collura finished in a time of 1:43.76.

Bailey Pons then won the 1,650-yard freestyle in 17:02.65 to continue Nebraska’s opening charge. With the win, the senior improved her career total to 39 victories. She would later add a third-place finish in the 500 free to cap the final home meet of her career.

After the 1,650 free, Illinois started to gain momentum, taking the lead with wins by Courtney Pope and Alison Meng in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. Meanwhile, Huskers Morgan Flannigan (1:52.79) and Jacqueline Juffer (57.34) earned second-place finishes in the respective events to keep the score tight.

Starting with the 100-yard breaststroke, Nebraska won the next six events to take control of the dual. Guy was the victor for the Huskers in the 100 breast, finishing in 1:04.88. The senior added a second-place finish in the 100 fly later on in the meet.

Natalie Morris was the next winner for the Huskers, claiming the 200 fly crown for the 6th time this season. The junior finished in a time of 2:02.41.

The Husker sprint freestyle corps also played a key role in the win streak, with Alexandra Bilunas (23.76) and Taryn Collura (23.88) finishing first and second in the 50-yard freestyle. Just two events later, Collura won the 100 free in a time of 51.58 to continue to build Nebraska’s lead.

Nicole Schwery also kept the win streak alive with a victory in the one-meter dive. The sophomore scored a career-best 297.23, edging teammate Anna Filipcic (296.18) for first place. Filipcic would return the favor in the three meter, besting Schwery’s career-best 313.35 with a score of 321.07 for the victory.

The Huskers’ final win of the streak came from Erin Oeltjen in the 200-yard backstroke. The freshman finished in 2:03.52 for her fourth victory of the season.

Senior Morgan Flannigan nearly stretched the streak to seven for the Huskers, taking second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:00.15. Flannigan also finished second in the 200 free, swimming a time of 1:52.79 in her final home meet.

Illinois won five of the meet’s final six events to narrow the final margin. Erica Lynn (200 breast), Gabbie Stecker (500 free), Alison Meng (100 fly) and Lori Lynn (200 IM) were the individual event winners for the Illini down the stretch, adding to their 400 free relay victory. With Meng’s 100 fly title, she became the only multi-event winner on the day for either squad.

However, the Husker lead was too much to overcome as they improved their all-time series record to 3-4 against the Illini. Nebraska also moved to 4-2-1 on the season, while Illinois fell to 8-6-1.

Saturday’s meet was the beginning of the home stretch for the Huskers, who have just one more competition before the Big Ten Championships. Next weekend, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Nebraska travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a double dual with Ohio State and Michigan.

Following their trip to Columbus, the Huskers have nearly three weeks to prepare for the 2014 Big Ten Championships. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., for the second straight season, running from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22. Check back in to Huskers.com and follow @HuskerSwim on Twitter for any and all updates regarding the Nebraska swimming and diving team.

Illinois Press Release

The Illinois Swimming and Diving team battled from behind, but ultimately failed to mount a comeback against Big Ten foe Nebraska on Saturday morning in Lincoln, Neb. The Illini put together some strong swims in the pool despite their 160-140 loss to the Cornhuskers.

“It was a very close meet today with a lot of tight races,” head coach Sue Novitsky said. “We were not the best during the first seven events. We had some good races, but across the board we needed everyone to step up the intensity and be more aggressive.”

The Illini started off slow with second-place finishes in four of the first seven events. Courtney Pope led the Illini with the first event victory of the morning in the 200-freestyle with a time of 1:50.99. Alison Meng responded in the next event, the 100-backstroke, with a first-place finish. Her time of 55.02 broke the pool record in Devaney Natatorium.

Despite the first-place finishes, the Illini headed into the first break trailing 77-54.

The Illini fought back after the first break to claim six first-place finishes in the remaining nine events.

“The team responded after the first break and competed with a lot more intensity,” Novitsky said. “We started to claim some of those tight races at the wall. I am very proud of the strength of character that the team showed today. It would have been easy to crumble, but they dug deep and we finished strong.”

Pope and Meng continued their success in Devaney Natatorium, as Pope claimed the 100-freestyle (51.89) and Meng claimed the 100-butterfly (55.66). The two both individually claimed two event victories while also contributing to a first-place finish in the 400-freestyle.

Other first-place finishers for the Illini included Erica Lynn in first in the 200-breaststroke (2:20.18) and Gabbie Stecker in the 500-freestyle (4:57.28).

The Illini shined in the final two events in hopes of mounting a comeback by sweeping the 200 IM and claiming first in the final event, the 400-freetyle relay, but Illinois failed to earn enough points to pass Nebraska.

Lori Lynn claimed the 200 IM (2:06.50), while the group of Meng, Pope, Jessica Holz and Megan Marchuk took the 400-freestyle relay victory (3:26.63).

In addition to numerous season-best times, the Illini had two swimmers garner career bests in the pool today. Lori Lynn’s second plash finish in the 200 fly (2:03.73) and Erica Lynn’s 100 free time (26.39) in leading off the 400-freestyle relay were good for career best marks.

On the boards the Cornhuskers swept the Illini in both the one-meter and three-meter dive.

Today’s meet marks the last dual meet the Illini will compete in this season. Illinois closed out its grueling nine-day stretch with a 3-4 record over four meets.

“It has been a tough two weeks with a lot of competitions and we have come out a better team and really forged our toughness as a group,” Novitsky said. “Now we continue to keep working on details and fine tune things heading into the Big Ten Championships.”

The Illini will have a week off from competition before traveling to Minneapolis, Minn., for the Minnesota Challenge on Feb. 7-8.

Results For: Illinois vs. Nebraska

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Author: Emily Sampl

Emily Sampl, an editorial assistant for Swimming World Magazine, is a freelance writer for USA Swimming and an assistant coach at Boulder High School and Boulder Elks Swim Team in Colorado. Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and master's degree in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

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