The Orange and Blue swam hard this weekend
Jan. 18, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
The Illini swimming and diving team put together a few break out performances this weekend in Iowa. Facing strong competition, while also swimming on short rest, the Illini (6-5-1) finished 1-3 on the road trip.
Illini opened the weekend competition Friday night in Ames, Iowa where they defeated the Iowa State Cyclones 168-132.
Illinois fell behind early after Iowa State jumped out to a 21-15 lead after claiming first in the 200-medley relay and the 1000-freestyle.
Despite trailing early, the Orange and Blue proved to be too much for the Cyclones, as Illinois claimed eight event titles on the night.
"It was a competitive meet all the way through with a lot of close races," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "Iowa State kept fighting and we needed to stay focused. We did a better job of putting ourselves in the mix and being aggressive at the start of the races and fighting to the wall."
Illinois stole momentum by a strong showing in the 200-freestyle and 200-butterfly, where the Illini swept the Cyclones in both events to claim a 65-47 lead after six events.
The Illini were led by freshman duo Gabbie Stecker and Amelia Schilling who combined to score 35-points on the night. Stecker, the Bettendorf, Iowa native, led the Illini with three individual first place finishes on the night, claiming the 200 free (1:52.54), 500 free (4:56.52) and 400 IM (4:28.81).
The Illini had a strong showing from both freshman in the long distance freestyle events as Schilling finished second in 100 free (10:16.97) and 500 free (5:02.58).
Other first place finishers for the Illini were Alison Meng in the 100-backstroke (56.95) and 100-butterfly (56.93), Lori Lynn in the 200-butterfly (2:05.00), Jessica Holz in the 200-backstroke (2:03.55) and Erica Lynn in the 200-breaststroke (2:21.07).
The Illini also claimed first in the 400-freestyle relay as Meng, Pope, Holz and Megan Marchuk swam a time of (3.29.33).
Triple Dual Meet
In their first test of the season against ranked opponents, the Illini put together a strong showing in several events Saturday morning at the Iowa Triple Dual in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Illini got off to a strong start with top-4 finishes in the first four events, including a first place finish in the 100-backstroke by Alison Meng (55.50) and a second plash finish in the 200-freestyle by Courtney Pope (1:51.81).
"Today we started out strong which was great to see coming off a tough meet and travel last night," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "You could see the fatigue catch up to us a little in the middle of the meet. We rebounded and finished the last two events strong."
The competition took its toll on the Illini as the meet progressed. The Illini fell just short of upsetting 21st ranked Missouri, losing 154-145. The Illini also suffered losses to 11th ranked Indiana, 193-103, and Iowa, 198-101.
Coming of their first place finish against Iowa State, the 400-freestye relay group swam another impressive race as Meng, Pope, Holz and Marchuk finished in second with a time of 3:27.36.
The Illini had two third place finishes on the day. Meng took third in the 100-butterfly (56.37), while Amelia Schilling continued her weekend success, finishing third in the 500-freestyle (5:02.09).
"I was happy to see people step up and compete and work to have those breakthrough swims," Novitsky said. "We are at that point in the season where you are very tired and sore. We asked a lot of our kids to swim the full number of allowed events and they kept racing strong which was great to see."
The Illini return home for their third meet in four days as they host Southern Illinois and Olivet Nazarene, for Splash Blash, on Monday, Jan. 10 at 2 p.m. CT.