Women's Swimming
Illini Lead After First Day of TYR Invite

Courtney Pope helped the Illini to a second-place finish in the 400 medley relay and finished third in the 500 free.
Courtney Pope helped the Illini to a second-place finish in the 400 medley relay and finished third in the 500 free.

Nov. 16, 2012


EVANSTON, Ill. The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team leads the six-team field at the TYR Invitational after placing in the top three in five events on Friday at the Norris Aquatics Center. Illinois posted 300 points in day-one action to top the leaderboard, followed by host Northwestern in second (268), Bowling green in third (190), North Dakota in fourth (177), UIC in fifth (116) and Kenyon in sixth (83).

"Overall, I thought that we competed pretty well as a team today," head coach Sue Novitsky said. "Every athlete here was back in the pool for finals, and that is what we are stressing as our mission. It started with a solid prelim session. We were not as sharp as I thought we could have been, but we put ourselves in good positions for the finals."

The 400 medley relay team of sophomore Alison Meng, senior Kathleen Knight and juniors Erica Lynn and Courtney Pope highlighted the day for the Orange and Blue with a runner-up finish in a time of 3:47.99. Meng led off with a career-best 55.65 in the 100 back, replacing her time as the third-fastest Illini in that event in program history.

Pope and Meng teamed up once again along with senior Kimberly Kalenda and sophomore Megan Marchuk, capturing third in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:34.01.

Erica Lynn and Pope turned in individual third-place finishes in the 50 breast (30.14) and 500 free (4:59.23), respectively. With her performance, Lynn moves into sixth on Illinois' all-time fastest individuals list in that event. Senior Darragh McDermott rounded out the list of top-three finishers for the Illini, placing third in the three-meter dive with a 258.15.

Meanwhile, Marchuk finished fourth in the 500 free with a personal-best 4:59.47, while freshman Lori Lynn placed fourth in the 200 IM with a time of 2:06.06.

Senior Erin Rodriguez was not far behind in the 200 IM with a fifth-place finish in 2:07.06, and Meng finished fifth in the 50 free with a time of 23.94. Senior Sarah Coady contributed a fifth-place finish as well with a career-best 30.69 in the 50 breast.

Freshman Sarah Sykstus reached the championship final in the 200 IM, finishing ninth with a 2:08.75, while Pope qualified for her second individual championship final of the day in the 50 free, placing sixth with a time of 24.10.

In the three-meter dive championship final, senior Keri Eberhardt and sophomore Erika Murphy placed seventh (241.05) and eighth (232.60), respectively. Murphy added a career-high 245.15 in prelims.

"I was proud of the team coming back and cleaning things up in their races," Novitsky said. "They showed a lot of persistence in figuring things out and making changes for the better. We had a lot of iron women out there stepping up and swimming up to six races today, showing a high level of mental and physical toughness. We have another challenging day tomorrow and will work to get off to another strong start in the morning."

The Illini will return to action tomorrow at 9 a.m. for day two of the three-day TYR Invitational. Tomorrow's finals start at 5 p.m.