Penn State Women Surge to Lead in Hunt for Big Ten Title

BLOOMINGTON, IN, February 18. THE Penn State women's swimming and diving team capped off another great day in the pool Thursday by setting two more school records and achieving 14 NCAA times on their way to jumping into first place after two days at the Big Ten Championships, reports PSU and host Indiana.

The Nittany Lions are on top of the team standings with a total of 238, Michigan is second with 199, Indiana is third with 183, Wisconsin is fourth with 181 and Purdue is fifth with 145. Day 3 will begin with preliminary sessions in the 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 3-meter diving beginning at 11 a.m. "I'm not going to get real caught up with how many points we have or where we are in the standings," said Penn State head coach Bill Dorenkott. "The bottom line is that we have four racing competitions remaining, and the only one that matters is (Friday) morning's."

Penn State had a tremendous day in the pool, highlighted by eight swimmers scoring points in the 500 freestyle. Sophomore Erin Morris (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) broke the school record in the 500 freestyle with an NCAA qualifying time of 4 minutes, 42.17 seconds. She touched the wall in second place just .17 seconds behind Wisconsin's Carly Piper, who won a gold medal and helped set a world record in the 800 freestyle relay at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Piper passed Morris in the last five yards to take the Big Ten title.
"That was an amazing swim," Dorenkott said. "She just got touched out by Carly Piper. I think that gives credibility to how good of a swim that was for Erin."
Morris was followed by a group of seven swimmers that scored 77 team points in that one event. Sophomore Margy Keefe (Cincinnati, Ohio) finished fifth in 4:48.39 (NCAA "B" cut), sophomore Claire Hawley (Barnstable, Mass.) was sixth in 4:49.06 (NCAA "B"), freshman Molly Crispell (Boalsburg, Pa.) was seventh in 4:50.85 (NCAA "B"), junior Patty Murphy (Medford, N.J.) was 10th in 4:49.65 (NCAA "B"), senior Meredith Holman (Inman, S.C.) was 11th in 4:50.85 (NCAA "B"), sophomore Nikki Collins (Carmel, Ind.) was 12th in 4:51.42 (NCAA "B") and sophomore Megan Palera (Santa Maria, Calif.) as 14th in 4:52.55 (NCAA "B").

"That's a great training group," Dorenkott said. "You just don't get that many swimmers to score points in one event, not in a big championship like this."

Another school record fell on the day when senior Deirdre Dlugonski (Washington, Pa.) finished first in the preliminaries of the 50 freestyle with an NCAA qualifying time of 22.80. She took fourth in the finals with a time of 23.03, and was followed by freshman Lauren Preyss (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), who took seventh in 23.19, an NCAA provisional time.

Dlugonski and Preyss also had a hand in Penn State finishing fourth in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:31.40, also an NCAA provisional time. Preyss led off the race, followed by Dlugonski, junior Sarah Haupt (Carlisle, Pa.) and senior Lauren Semchyshen (New Fairfield, Conn.).

Three Penn State swimmers scored points to help in the team standings in the 200 IM. Senior Courtney Stanchock (Bloomsburg, Pa.) finished third with an NCAA "B" time of 2:02.32, senior Larissa Kavchok (Emmaus, Pa.) was ninth in 2:03.21 (NCAA "B") and junior Amberle Biedermann (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was 10th in 2:04.41.

Indiana women's swimming and diving improved to third after the divers secured four of the top eight spots in the one-meter championship heat along with an astonishing performance by freshman Christina Loukas. The Riverwoods, Ill., native out-did herself from the afternoon diving preliminaries with another set of one-meter watershed marks with Big Ten meet, conference and school records after a 332.70 tally.

Heading into the diving portion of the night, Penn State sat in the lead with a healthy mark of 238 points. Michigan popped back into second with 191 points, while Wisconsin was in third with 181. Indiana dropped back to fifth with 120 points. Indiana picked up 63 in the one-meter board alone, moving up to third on the strength of its tradition-rich diving program.

In the one-meter, Loukas out-dueled Purdue junior Carrie McCambridge, the defending one-meter champion, to post another run of records and claim the first Big Ten diving title for Indiana since Sara Hildebrand posted the Triple Crown with a trio of triumphs in 2003. Loukas strung together a 332.70 tally to conquer the field and claim 20 points for Indiana's coffer. McCambridge took second with a 315.30, while 2004 Olympian Cassandra Cardinell captured third for the Cream and Crimson with a 312.45. Also for IU, sophomore Lindsay Weigle posted a fifth-place effort with a 310.10 and junior Lisa Silvestri rounded out the championship final with a 261.40.

Women's Championship Results
Team Scores:
1. Penn State, 238;
2. Michigan, 199
3. Indiana, 183
4. Wisconsin, 181
5. Purdue, 145
6. Minnesota, 122
7. Iowa, 91
8. Illinois, 85
9. Northwestern, 83
10. Ohio State, 80
11. Michigan State, 53.

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