Women's Swimming
Illini Split Season Opener

Junior Alison Meng continued her success from last season, adding two more times to Illinois' top 10 fastest all-time list.
Junior Alison Meng continued her success from last season, adding two more times to Illinois' top 10 fastest all-time list.

Oct. 18, 2013

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EVANSTON, Ill. - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team split its first meet of the season defeating Eastern Michigan, 191-108, while losing to Northwestern, 166-133, Friday night in Evanston, Ill. The Orange and Blue captured seven first-place finishes in the season opener.

"It was a competitive meet from start to finish," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "Northwestern and Eastern Michigan competed well as we knew they would. It was not going to be an easy meet."

The Illini were led by senior Courtney Pope and junior Alison Meng, who together combined to take six first-place finishes on the night. Pope finished first in the 50 free (23.82) and 100 free (51.52), while Meng was the fastest in the 100 back (55.27), good for fourth on Illinois' top 10 fastest all-time list, and the 100 fly (56.78). The two were also part of the winning 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.

"We had people racing really tough and the team kept battling," Novitsky said. "Alison Meng and Courtney Pope had fantastic meets, with both winning two events and helping both relays win too."

The Lynn sisters, Erica and Lori, joined Meng and Pope to claim the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:44.64. Meng led of the relay swimming the 50 back in 25.89, placing her fourth on Illinois' top 10 fastest all-time list. In the 400 relay, senior Erica Lynn and freshmen Gabbie Stecker swam with Pope and Meng finishing with a time of 1:44.64. Erica Lynn also claimed first in the 200 breast with a time of 2:20.63.

Earning second-place finishes for the Illini were freshmen Amelia Schilling in the 1000 free (10:14.83) and junior Megan Marchuk in the 200 free (1:52.51).

The Orange and Blue secured six third-place finishes, including Gabbie Stecker in the 1000 free (10:24.13), sophomore Sarah Sykstus in the 200 fly (2:05.02), Megan Marchuk in the 100 free (52.60), senior Jessica Holz in the 200 back (2:05.67) and Amelia Schilling in the 500 free (5:01.61). Junior Sabrinne Gibson, Schilling, Holz and sophomore Rachel Burke also captured a third-place finish in the 400 free relay (3:33.19).

Capturing fourth-place finishes for the Illini were senior Cara Chung, sophomore Isabella Schamber, Sarah Sykstus and senior Anne Goering in the 200 medley relay (1:47.83). Other fourth place finishes included Gabbie Stecker in the 200 fly (2:06.75), Sabrinne Gibson who posted a lifetime best in the 100 free (52.71) and sophomore Lori Lynn in the 100 fly (57.78).

The Illini saw seven swimmers also earn points with fifth-place finishes, including Amelia Schilling in the 200 free (1:53.34), Cara Chuang in the 100 back (58.51), Erica Lynn in the 100 breast (1:06.56), Lori Lynn in the 200 fly (2:07.28), junior Mary Beth Howard in the 200 back (2:08.10), Gabbie Stecker in the 500 free (5:05.40) and Sarah Sykstus in the 100 fly (58.17).

On the boards, junior Erika Murphy placed fourth in the one-meter dive (229.55), while junior Emily Fung took fifth in the event (225.45). Freshmen Olivia Kassouni also finished fifth in the three-meter dive (241.55).

"We made some technical changes in some races and had some good results," Novitsky said. "We will keep on practicing hard and working on cleaning things up. We want to keep getting better each week and that requires hard work and continued focus."

The Orange and Blue return to action against Michigan State and Liberty next Friday, Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. CT in East Lansing, Mich.