Illini Drop Season Opener to Northwestern, 169-131
Oct. 19, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team dropped its first meet of the season to Northwestern, 169-131, on Friday afternoon at the ARC Pool. The Orange and Blue captured six first-place finishes in the season-opening loss.
"I thought we competed really well," Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said. "It was a back-and-forth meet, and we have talked about staying competitive. We did that today. To see them step up like that says a lot about them. There were a couple events where we got swept, but they didn't let that affect them and take their power away. It was great to see them respond that way and step up. Compared to last year's meet against Northwestern, it was such a better effort."
The Illini were led by senior Kathleen Knight and junior Erica Lynn, who each won two individual events and were also part of the winning 400 medley relay team along with sophomore Megan Marchuk and freshman Lori Lynn. Knight finished first in the 100 fly with a career-best 57.13 and won the 200 fly (2:04.19), while Erica Lynn captured first in the 100 breast (1:05.63) and 200 breast (2:21.32). Junior Courtney Pope added to the Illini's first-place accolades by winning the 200 free (1:52.28).
"Erica and Kathleen stepped up really well for us, and they are some of the hardest workers on this team," Novitsky said. "They did a great job of keeping their poise after stepping on the block and knowing they were in a big moment, and they were able to come through. That's a big step for them, so that was exciting to see."
Earning second-place finishes for the Illini were freshman Lori Lynn in the 100 back (58.09) and 100 fly (57.29), sophomore Mary Beth Howard in the 200 back (2:07.16), freshman Isabella Schamber in the 200 breast (2:24.03) and sophomore Megan Marchuk with a career-best 5:07.39 in the 500 free. The 400 free relay team of Pope, senior Kimberly Kalenda, freshman Sarah Sykstus and Marchuk also captured a second-place finish.
The Orange and Blue secured eight third-place finishes, including Marchuk in the 200 free (1:54.65), freshman Sloane McDermott in the 100 back (59.91), Schamber in the 100 breast (1:07.14), Sykstus in the 100 fly (58.19) and 200 fly (2:06.85), Kalenda in the 50 free (24.50), Pope in the 100 free (52.96) and Lori Lynn in the 400 IM (4:31.10).
Capturing fourth-place finishes for the Fighting Illini were junior Alyssa Toland in the 100 free (10:28.73), Howard in the 200 free (1:55.55), Pope in the 50 free (24.61), Sloane McDermott in the 200 back (2:07.94) and sophomore Hailey Booth in the 500 free (5:11.15).
Four Illini swimmers earned points with fifth-place finishes, including sophomore Kayla Dlugopolski in the 500 free (5:14.31) and 1000 free (10:31.85), senior Erin Rodriguez in the 200 fly (2:06.99), sophomore Sabrinne Gibson in the 50 free (25.07), Kim Kalenda in the 100 free (53.88), freshman Stephanie Hein in the 200 back (2:09.44) and 400 IM (4:32.67) and senior Sarah Coady in the 200 breast (2:27.11).
"I was very happy with how the freshman did," Novitsky said. "They helped us out in a lot of our relays and had a lot of second places today. They are an important part of our team. Lori is so versatile and one of the hardest workers on the team. We have been working on a few things with her pacing, and when she gets that figured out, she is going to have one of those breakout meets."
On the boards, senior Darragh McDermott placed second in the one-meter dive (235.11) and fourth in the three-meter dive (233.70). Senior Keri Eberhardt secured fourth in the one-meter dive (231.07) while sophomore Erika Murphy finished fifth in the three-meter dive (223.04).
The Orange and Blue return to action against the Michigan State Spartans next Friday, Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. CT at the ARC Pool.