Feb. 18, 2004
Minneapolis, Minn. - Illinois didn't start off strong, but finished the first night about as well as they could. The Illini earned 22 points on the night placing them 10th overall after the first two events. Their points came from Barbie Viney, Kirsten Koepcke, Britta Jansson, and Crystal McAdam finishing 8th in the 800 free relay in 7:21.84, which set a school record and was good enough for a NCAA "B" cut.
As they have stressed all year, the Illini staff knew tonight's two relays were crucial to a strong finish in end result of the championship. Unfortunately, the Illini had some misfortune in the first event of the night in the 200 medley relay where they were disqualified for leaving the block early in an exchange. The Orange and Blue failed to get any points due to the qualification, which hurts for the fact that points are doubled in relay events.
"It's disappointing being disqualified in our first event, but we came back and got after it in the next race where we set a school record," Novitsky said. "I thought we were very nervous tonight. We have to come out strong tomorrow and it helps that we have a good starting point for tomorrow after our finish tonight."
Freshman Barbie Viney, who led off the 800 free relay set a personal best in the 200 free with a time of 1:50.62. Viney's time was also good enough for a NCAA "B" qualifying time and is stands fifth best in the Illini record books.
Tomorrow morning's prelim events that begin at 11 a.m. CST, include the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free.