Northwestern Women Cruise Past Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, October 19. AFTER a slow start in its season-opening meet at Big Ten foe Illinois, Northwestern charged ahead and closed the door on the Illini for a 169-131 victory.

Northwestern will return home to host a unique event from 6-7 p.m. CT Wednesday, Oct. 24: Breaststroke4Breastcancer. This hour of music, fun and, of course, swimming, will raise money for local cancer research. Already 150 swimmers have signed up to be a part of the evening's relays, guaranteeing an entertaining spectacle for fans and supporters in the stands. An emcee will keep the action moving, there will be a “pink” bake sale and plenty of surprises.

Illinois captured the opening 400 medley relay Friday with the Northwestern team of Shelly Patton (Littleton, Colo./Heritage), Julianne Kurke (Atlanta, Ga./Parkview), Marybeth Hall (Brighton, Mich./Brighton) and Taylor Reynolds (St. Louis, Mo./Webster Groves) coming in second with a 3:53.79.

NU immediately hit its stride, however, in the first individual event with two freshmen leading the way. Ellen Anderson (Montgomery Village, Md./Gaithersburg) tore through the field en route to a 7.85-second win in the 1,000 free, turning in a time of 10:16.10. Classmate Emily Launer (DeKalb, Ill./Rosary) placed second in 10:23.95 while junior Erin Sosdian (The Woodlands, Texas/Woodlands College Park) came in third with a 10:25.02.

Illinois' top swimmer pulled away from NU's Jackie Powell in the final 50 yards of the 200 free, taking the race with a 1:52.28 against Powell's 1:52.82. Freshman Karen Turner (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge) then followed with a victory in her first collegiate race, swimming a 57.85 to hold off an Illinois challenger in the 100 back by .24 of a second.

The Illini grabbed their third win of the meet in the 100 breast, with Kurke taking top honors for the `Cats in a second-place time of 1:07.04 after a 34.97 split in the final 50 enabled her to catch by one-tenth of a second another Illini competitor, whose final 50 was a 35.46. A fourth Illinois victory then followed in the 200 fly, where NU's Meredith King (Louisville, Ky./duPont Manual) was second by nearly a full second with a time of 2:05.18.

Northwestern began its comeback in the sprint free events and diving. First, the senior Reynolds (23.85) led a 1-2 NU sweep of the 50 free alongside freshman Julia Pratt (Vincennes, Ind./Vincennes Rivet) (24.43). In the 100 free, Powell led the sweep with a 52.72 while Reynolds was second in 52.82.

Between those two events, junior Cosima Lenz (Altadena, Calif./Polytechnic) captured top honors on the 1-meter springboard with a 245.92, good for a nearly 20-point victory over Illinois' top entry.

Turner made it a sweep of the backstroke events with a strong win in the 200, going out fast with a sub-30.00 opening 50 before holding off an Illini foe with a 2:06.29. Illinois would fight back, however, with a 1-2 sweep of the 200 breast before Anderson captured her second event with another huge margin of victory, this time taking the 500 free by nearly six seconds with a time of 5:01.68.

Illinois pushed its way back into the competition with a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 fly before NU took control for good, beginning with its own 1-2-3 sweep on the 3-meter springboard. Lenz again led the way with a 261.61 followed by freshman Caroline Grant (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier) in second (252.97) and Mary Kate Campbell (Burr Ridge, Ill./Fenwick) in third (236.92).

Junior Becca Soderholm (Madison, Wis./Madison East) battled with her teammate Patton in the 400 IM, holding off the youngster after building a big lead in the backstroke. Soderholm's final time was 4:28.31 to Patton's 4:28.53.

A final win in the 400 free relay put an exclamation point on the win for Northwestern. The team of Powell, Katie McCullough (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central), Sosdian and Reynolds swam a 3:30.44 for the victory.

Northwestern has two weeks off from competition following its opening meet of 2012, returning to action at 4 p.m. CT Friday, Nov. 2, against UIC at the Norris Aquatics Center.

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