Junior Courtney Pope won the 500 free on Friday night.
Jan. 18, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, ILL. - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team improved to 2-2 on the season after defeating the Iowa State Cyclones, 194-106, on Friday night at the ARC Pool. The Orange and Blue captured 12 first-place finishes in the victory.
"You want to get the momentum going and get that confidence right from the start, " Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said. "Being able to step up in each race and not worry about who you are racing against is important. To win those first four events and have that momentum was huge for us and was kind of a springboard as it carried us through the rest of the meet."
Sophomore Alison Meng and junior Courtney Pope led the Illini, combining for three individual wins, and were also part of both winning relay teams. Meng won in the 100 back (56.69) and 100 free (53.11), while Pope earned first place in the 500 free (5:03.21).
The first-place 400 medley relay team of Meng, junior Erica Lynn, freshman Lori Lynn and Pope finished with a time of 3:51.14. The Illini also captured first place in the 200 free relay when the team of senior Kim Kalenda, Meng, sophomore Megan Marchuk and Pope clocked a 1:37.18.
Five other Illini swimmers earned individual first-place finishes for the Orange and Blue, including senior Kathleen Knight in the 100 fly (56.93) and 200 fly (2:04.92), junior Alyssa Toland in the 1000 free (10:29.13), Megan Marchuk in the 200 free (1:53.70), Erica Lynn in the 200 breast (2:19.82) and freshman Sarah Sykstus in the 400 IM (4:30.72).
"I saw Pope and Meng take a lot of those things that we have been practicing and put them in play tonight," Novitsky said. "Courtney didn't win her 50 free, but that was her fastest 50-free time she's ever had with us, so that's a great step in the right direction. Meng just loves to race, and she is a great racer."
Capturing second-place finishes for the Illini were Lori Lynn in the 100 fly (57.60) and 200 fly (2:06.06), sophomore Kayla Dlugopolski in the 1000 free (10:30.97), senior Erin Lamb in the 200 free (1:54.52), Erica Lynn in the 100 breast (1:05.62) and Courtney Pope in the 50 free (24.29).
The Orange and Blue totaled eight individual third-place finishes, including senior Erin Rodriguez in the 200 fly (2:06.55) and 400 IM (4:32.68), sophomore Mary Beth Howard in the 200 free (1:55.37), Sykstus in the 50 free (24.80), Lamb in the 100 free (53.25), junior Jessica Holz in the 200 back (2:06.71), Alyssa Toland in the 500 free (5:11.60) and senior Alyssa Petruzzello in the 100 fly (58.45).
The Illini secured seven fourth-place finishes including sophomore Hailey Booth in the 1000 free (10:42.10), junior Emma Williams in the 200 fly (2:09.31), Kalenda in the 50 free (24.88), Marchuk in the 100 free (53.57), freshman Sloane McDermott in the 200 back (2:06.85), senior Sarah Coady in the 200 breast (2:26.16) and junior Emily Wilkinson in the 100 fly (59.45).
"I am really excited that we get to swim back-to-back days because it prepares us for the future," Novitsky said. "We just have to remember that we still have a job to do tomorrow against Iowa. They can feel good about the win tonight but they have to get back at it tomorrow."
On the boards, senior Darragh McDermott earned a first-place finish in the one-meter dive (273.66) and a third-place finish in the three-meter dive (250.57). Senior Keri Eberhardt secured second-place finishes in both the one-meter dive (248.09) and three-meter dive (256.28). Sophomore Erika Murphy also earned points, with fourth-place finishes in both the one-meter dive (233.16) and three-meter dive (234.40).
The Illini will host their fifth annual Splash Bash tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT at the ARC Pool.