EVANSTON, Illinois, November 18. AFTER trailing Illinois through the first two days of its own three-day TYR Invitational at the Norris Aquatics Center, Northwestern surged ahead in Sunday's final action to claim the team championship in the six-team meet.
NU easily erased its 21.5-point deficit entering the finals to win by a 107-point margin, tallying 1,056.5 total points to Illinois' 949.5. Bowling Green State came in third with 644 points, North Dakota claimed fourth in 411 and UIC claimed fifth with 351 points -- edging sixth-place Kenyon College (350 points) by the slimmest of margins.
The `Cats earned first-place finishes in the 1,650 free, the 100 free and the 400 free relay. Numerous NU swimmers moved on from the morning's preliminary session into the finals. Most finals races included multiple Wildcats.
The highlight of the day centered on Kenyon College's Hannah Saiz who set the Norris Center pool record in the 200 fly. Her time of 1:58.97 gave her a provisional "A" qualifying time at the Division III level.
Northwestern now has a week off from competition before returning to action Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in a second fall season invitational, this one the Iowa Invitational hosted by the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
Preliminary Portion of Sunday's Action:
Northwestern wasted no time getting started Sunday morning. Freshman Julia Pratt (Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes Rivet) raced out ahead in the 50 fly and stayed there, qualifying first in a time of 25.39. She will be joined in the final by sophomore Valerie Nubbe (Huntsville, Ala./Huntsville) and senior Marybeth Hall (Brighton, Mich./Brighton). Nubbe was fourth after each heat, while Hall came in fifth. Junior Fallon Fitzpatrick (Delray Beach, Fla./Boca Raton Community) qualified for the "B" final, finishing in the 14th spot.
The Wildcats qualified more swimmers for the championship final of the 200 back than the entire rest of the competition combined. Five NU swimmers filled out qualifying spots three through seven. Freshman Shelly Patton (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) led the way for the `Cats, finishing her swim in 2:02.13. Freshman Karen Turner (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge), freshman Ellen Anderson (Montgomery Village, Md./Gaithersburg), senior Meaghan Fenn (New Rochelle, N.Y./The Ursuline School), and sophomore Madeleine Klichowski (Chicago, Ill./Loyola Academy) all finished within a half-second of each other and all moved on with Patton to the "A" final.
Two more Wildcat swimmers were able to move onto the "B" final, as junior Erin Sosdian (The Woodlands, Texas/Woodlands College Park) and freshman Emily Launer (DeKalb, Ill./Rosary) finished 10th and 13th, respectively, to round out the NU dominance in the event. Freshman Chelsea Soderholm (Madison, Wis./Madison East) also contributed, qualifying for the bonus final.
The 100 free also was largely dominated by Northwestern swimmers. Three Wildcats moved on to the "A" final with senior Taylor Reynolds (St. Louis, Mo./Webster Groves) leading the way, qualifying third in a time of 51.22. She was just .23 seconds off the leader. Nubbe finished directly behind Reynolds in fourth. She swam the race in 51.44.
Senior Katie McCullough (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) moved on with her teammates, placing seventh in the preliminary heats. Senior Meredith King (Louisville, Ky./duPont Manual) was ninth to pace the pack into the "B" final. Teammate Hall joined her in qualifying for the final, coming in 15th. One Wildcat advanced onto the bonus final of the 100 free, as Pratt just missed the final "B" qualifying spot.
Freshman Julianne Kurke (Atlanta, Ga./Parkview) swam her best time to date in the 200 breast, qualifying fourth in a time of 2:21.00. Junior Megan Goss (Brentwood, Tenn./Ravenwood) also put forth her best effort of the season, swimming the event in 2:22.99. She advanced to the "A" final in the seventh spot. Fenn was ninth, placing her atop the list in the "B" final. She will be joined by junior Becca Soderholm (Madison, Wis./Madison East).
There was a small field jockeying for a position in the 50 backstroke, and three `Cats took advantage. Patton led the entire field, qualifying first in a time of 26.21. She held off the second-place finisher by one-one hundredth of a second. Turner advanced in the third spot, swimming a 26.92. Klichowski was the other Wildcat to make it to Sunday night's session in the event. She was fourth in the prelims in 27.32.
King's season-best swim in the 200 fly placed her in the finals alongside teammate Becca Soderholm. King was third in qualifying, swimming a 2:03.83. Solderholm advanced in the sixth spot, with a finishing time of 2:06.82. Two more `Cats were able to qualify for the bonus final of the event, as Chelsea Soderholm swam her best race of the season, coming in at 2:11.40. Fitzpatrick was the other Wildcat to move on to the bonus.
During Sunday morning's preliminary action, Northwestern and Illinois divers competed in the finals of the 5-meter platform event. NU swept the top three spots in the only point scoring of the morning, immediately erasing the Wildcats' deficit entering the day and surging the home team into the lead over the Illini, 649-646.5, entering Sunday afternoon's official finals sessions.
Junior Cosima Lenz (Altadena, Calif./Polytechnic School) won by more than 10 points with a 150.60 followed by freshman Caroline Grant (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) in second with 140.45 and junior Mary Kate Campbell (Burr Ridge, Ill./Fenwick) in third with 128.55 points.
Finals Portion of Sunday's Action:
Northwestern was all over the top of the podium to begin the final portion on Sunday. The 1,650 free belonged to the `Cats all the way as they took the top four spots. Sosdian claimed first in a career-best time of 16:38.46, winning by a sizeable margin and placing herself seventh on NU's all-time top times list in the event. Second was Anderson in 16:51.40. Launer was third with a time of 16:54.40. Goss rounded out the top-four for NU, coming in at 17:12.40. All told, the Wildcats picked up 68 team points with their dominant effort to pull ahead of rival Illinois.
In the 50 fly, Pratt swam a strong race. Her 25.55 was good for third-place overall. Teammate Nubbe finished sixth, swimming a 25.96. Hall was right behind her, coming in seventh in a time of 25.99. In the consolation final, Fitzpatrick completed the event in 26.26 to claim 11th place.
The women dominated the field of the 200 backstroke during the final. In the championship final alone, five `Cats were among the top-seven finishers. Patton led the way for Northwestern, finishing second and crushing her best time to date. She recorded a time of 1:59.54. Turner came in fourth and also swam her best time in 2:02.64. Klichowski was fifth and, like those before her, swam a season-best 2:02.81. The trend would continue as Fenn, swimming her best time of the season, finished sixth with a time of 2:04.44. Anderson placed seventh overall in a time of 2:07.10. Sosdian and Launer competed in the consolation final, with Sosdian placing 10th overall and Launer coming in 16th. NU picked up 79 team points from this event.
Reynolds was fantastic in the finals of the 100 free, swimming her fastest race of the season on her way to claiming the title. Her time of 50.28 put her ahead of the rest of the field. Nubbe was fourth in the event with a 51.55. That posted time was her best of the season as well. McCullough rounded out the exceptionally fast final with her best time of the season, finishing in 52.33 and claiming eighth. The consolation final saw both King and Hall compete. King was 11th while Hall was 16th.
Times continued to fall in the 200 breaststroke with Kurke bringing down her season-best to a 2:19.16. With that effort, she was able to claim second-place. Goss also performed well in the event, swimming a 2:22.97, her best time, on the way to a seventh-place finish. In the consolation final, Becca Soderholm and Fenn finished 10th and 11th, respectively. The event helped Northwestern push their lead over second-place Illinois to over 100.
The `Cats continued the push for more points in the 50 backstroke. All three NU swimmers in the event placed in the top-four overall. Patton fell just short of winning, but still claimed second with a time of 25.82. Turner was right behind her, placing third with a 26.26, while teammate Klichowski came in fourth, swimming a 27.31.
The 200 fly was highlighted by a swimmer from Division III school Kenyon College. Hannah Saiz set a Norris Center pool record in the event with a 1:58.97 on her way to victory. The previous record was from 2007. On the Northwestern side, Becca Soderholm placed third with a time of 2:03.11. King finished directly behind her in fourth in 2:03.30.
The 400 free relay was very competitive with nobody gaining the upper-hand until Northwestern anchor Reynolds pulled away from the Illini down the stretch. After Nubbe, Patton and McCullough had swum their legs of the race, the two teams were in a dead-heat. Reynolds swam a 50.01 in the final 100 to clinch the win for the `Cats. The final time for NU stood at 3:24.59. The mark gives the team a new season-best. The "B" team for NU came to the finish in sixth-place. The team of Hall, Pratt, Turner and Sosdian had a time of 3:29.92.
Freshman Jordan Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif./Malibu) broke an eight-year-old Norris Aquatics Center pool record and came within two seconds of the school record in the 1,650 freestyle Sunday to highlight the final day of action and a big Northwestern victory at the Wildcats' own four-team TYR Invitational.
Northwestern had a big lead entering the final day's events and extended it all the way to the end. The `Cats finished with 1,293 team points. North Dakota was second (718), UIC came in third (632) and Division III school Kenyon finished fourth with 593 points.
For Wilimovsky, his swim broke Elliot Rushton of Kenyon's 2004 standard of 15:14.55 in the mile -- also set during that year's TYR Invitational -- and fell just 1.97 seconds shy of the school record set by Brian Davis in 2004.
Senior Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman) spotted himself an NCAA "B" consideration time with his 1:47.27 performance in the 200 fly. It was his second provisional qualifying time of the weekend and helped him be the meet's high point scorer with 116, 17 more than his nearest competition.
Several Wildcats will return to action Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the USA Swimming Nationals in Austin, Texas, but the majority of the squad now turn their focus to fall quarter finals and NU's upcoming winter training trip.
Preliminary Portion of Sunday's Action:
Sophomore Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) picked up right where he left off Saturday when he won a pair of events, qualifying first in the 50 fly for the Wildcats. Ferguson swam a 22.64 to lead the pack. Senior Toni Valcic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Gimnazija Ledina) will join him in the "A" final, as he finished in the fifth spot in a time of 23.47. Sophomore Will Rosler (Bexley, Ohio/Columbus Academy) also put his name in the mix, earning a trip to the "B" final on Sunday night. Rosler came in 10th in the prelims. Senior Alexander Ratajczyk (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial), junior Brien Gerber (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) and junior Ross McAuliffe (Shapwick, United Kingdom/Millfield School) all earned trips to the bonus final of the 50 fly.
There appeared to be no slowing down for the men in the day's second event. Freshman Grant Halsall (Laxey, Isle of Man, GBR) was in tight competition with his own teammate on his way to qualifying first in the 200 back in a time of 1:52.02, marking his season-best time. His only close competition came from senior Varun Shivakumar (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd), who advanced to the final in the second spot in a time of 1:52.47. Not to be outdone, Wilimovsky also advanced to the "A" final as well, coming in fifth. Senior Daniel Salovesh (Casa Grande, Ariz./Casa Grande Union) just missed a chance for the top final, but he qualified in the top spot for the "B" final.
Junior Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) was one of five Wildcats to qualify for the "A" final in the 100 free. Stephens finished second in a time 46.40 to lead all NU swimmers. The real race in the event appeared to be between Northwestern swimmers themselves. While Stephens finished second, junior Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) was third, Rimkus came in fourth, Ratajczyk qualified fifth and Ferguson finished with the sixth-best time. They were all separated by just .28 seconds. Valcic and junior Matt Wilcox (Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) were able to advance to the "B" final of the 100 free with their finishes. Valcic was 14th and Wilcox was 15th. Two more `Cats made it into the bonus final of the event, as Rosler and sophomore Aaron Sears (Neenah, Minn./Neenah) made it nine NU swimmers to advance to Sunday night's final for this event.
The 200 breast was highlighted by freshman Van Donkersgoed (Eden Prairie, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) swimming his season-best time. Donkersgoed qualified for the final in the number one spot after his time of 2:06.32. Gerber also advanced to the "A" final of the event, finishing with a time 2:12.40, which was good for the seventh spot. Three Wildcats, Sears, junior Tim Smith (Oakland, Calif./De La Salle) and sophomore Andrew Seitz (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley), put themselves in position for the "B" final on Sunday night.
In the 50 backstroke, Northwestern advanced six swimmers to the final, with five qualifying for the "A" portion of the event. Cubelic led the field with his time of 24.08. Halsall was third in 24.47 and Shivakumar was fourth with his time of 24.68. Stephens and Salovesh advanced in sixth and seventh, respectively. Rounding out the finalists for NU was Wilcox, who made it to the "B" final in the third spot. Overall, the `Cats claimed six of the 11 finalists.
Rimkus led the field in the 200 fly, advancing in the number one spot with a time of 1:55.29. Joining him in the "A" final will be Donkersgoed, who swam a 1:57.30, which was good for the fifth spot. Seitz was the third Wildcat to advance to Sunday afternoon in the event, coming in 13th.
Sunday morning the Northwestern divers competed in the 5-meter platform event, which featured only the Wildcats in the field. After falling to his teammate and classmate in both springboard events earlier in the weekend, junior Nick Pinkerton (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) bested Tanner Nemkov (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) with a score of 177.95 to Nemkov's 168.80.
Finals Portion of Sunday's Action:
Ferguson opened up Friday night's final session on the men's side with a strong victory. His time of 22.27 was far ahead of the second-place finisher for such a short race. Valcic also swam well, finishing fourth in a time of 23.01. Rosler swam in the consolation final. He was third in his group, which was good for 11th overall.
The Wildcats also claimed the victor of the night's second event. Halsall cruised to victory in the 200 backstroke, crushing his season-best time with a 1:47.77. Right behind him was Shivakumar. He gave NU the 1-2 finish in a time of 1:49.06, which was his best of the season as well. Not to be outdone, Salovesh posted his season-best time, earning fifth place at 1:53.82.
Northwestern completely dominated the 100 free, claiming the top four spots. Stephens won by almost a full second, finishing the race in 44.76. The time was his best of the season. Cubelic came in second in 45.71, while Rimkus was third with a 45.78. Ferguson claimed fourth place, and Ratajczyk was sixth. In the consolation final, Wilcox placed 10th overall, while Valcic came in 16th. The swimmers picked up 89 team points in the event.
The only NU participant in the 1,650 free made it a special night. Wilimovsky won the race and broke the Norris Center pool record along the way. His time of 15:10.75 smashed the old record of 15:14.55, which was set in 2004. His performance brought the entire crowd to its feet. He led the rest of the pack by almost a full minute near the end of the race, which was the second-fastest mile ever swum by a Wildcat.
Donkersgoed raced out to a season-best time on his way to claiming first in the 200 breaststroke. His time of 2:03.16 blew the field away. It was a full three seconds better than the second-place finisher. Gerber was able to come away with a sixth-place finish for the `Cats, completing his swim in 2:10.16. The consolation final also gave NU some more team points as Sears finished ninth, Seitz came in 11th and Smith was 12th.
The Wildcats had five swimmers in the championship heat of the 50 backstroke final and came away with a first-place finish and a runner-up. Cubelic was the winner, swimming to the finish-line in just 22.80. Halsall finished directly behind in second with a time of 23.40. Shivakumar placed fourth in the event, coming in at a 24.25. Salovesh placed sixth, and Stephens touched in seventh-place. Wilcox swam for NU in the consolation final and placed 10th overall.
The winning continued for Northwestern in the 200 fly. Rimkus cruised to victory, setting a new season-best time at 1:47.27. The other NU participant in the championship final was Donkersgoed. He finished in sixth-place with a time of 1:56.45. In the consolation final, Seitz was third, giving him an 11th place finish overall.
The 400 free relay was a wild race between the Northwestern "A" team and Kenyon College. The race was a virtual tie after the first two legs, but number three swimmer Cubelic was able to pull out in front, swimming his leg in 44.93. The anchor, Stephens, extended the lead even more, putting forward a 44.66 effort. The total time stood at 3:00.66, which is a season-best. The "B" team for the `Cats finished in third-place. Rosler, Ratajczyk, Wilcox and Valcic combined for a 3:05.97 finish.
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