Allison Meng won the 100 back on Saturday.
Nov. 17, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team will go into the final day of the TYR Invitational leading the six-team field after placing in the top three in five events on Saturday at the Norris Aquatics Center. After two days of action, Illinois boasts 617.5 points to remain in first place, followed by host Northwestern in second (596), Bowling Green in third (445.5), North Dakota in fourth (298), UIC in fifth (256) and Kenyon in sixth (210).
"I thought that our energy as a team was really solid today," Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said. "We turned in a pretty complete day overall, and when you can rewrite parts of the record books, that shows that we are stepping up and competing tough. I thought that we could have finished off the prelim session a little stronger, but that is the challenge of the meet format."
The Illini got off to a fast start when the 200 medley relay team of sophomore Alison Meng, junior Erica Lynn, senior Alyssa Petruzzello and junior Courtney Pope captured a third-place finish with a time of 1:43.90, which was the eighth-fastest in Illini history. Meng led off with a career-best 26.26 in the 50 back, turning in the sixth-fastest time in program history in that race.
Illinois continued its relay success with a second-place finish in the 800 free relay, as sophomore Megan Marchuk, Pope, sophomore Hailey Booth and senior Erin Lamb posted a time of 7:26.98. Marchuk led off with a career-best 1:49.76, which makes her the seventh-fastest Illini to ever swim the 200 free.
Meng won the 100 back (55.34), climbing to third on Illinois' all-time fastest individuals list. Her time of 55.34 is also the fourth-fastest 100 back in program history. Meanwhile, Marchuk captured second in the 200 free (1:50.19), putting her in eighth on the all-time fastest individuals list in that event.
Other top-five finishers for the Illini were senior Erin Rodriguez in the 400 IM (4:23.04, third), Erica Lynn in the 100 fly (56.72, fourth) and 100 breast (1:04.77, fifth) and Pope in the 200 free (1:50.91, fourth).
Freshman Stephanie Hein and senior Sarah Coady turned in solid efforts for the Orange and Blue in the 400 IM, placing sixth (4:32.15) and seventh (4:32.21), respectively. Senior Kathleen Knight and Petruzzello tied for sixth place in the 100 fly with a time of 56.94. Freshman Sloane McDermott also aided the Illini by finishing seventh in the 100 back (58.53).
In the one-meter dive championship final, senior Darragh McDermott captured second place (261.70), while senior Keri Eberhardt and sophomore Erika Murphy placed fifth (245.65) and seventh (236.30), respectively.
"Today was all about having a warrior mentality as we had 20 people in finals competing in 2 or 3 events each, " Novitsky said. "You have to show an indomitable spirit to keep getting yourself ready and working to transcend your previous performances. Heading into the last day, we are in a team battle with Northwestern and have to come ready to go in the morning. Our focus is to keep getting ourselves ready and swimming our own races. This challenge is really going to help us continue to develop as a team and learn how to keep going back to the well and asking your body for more."
The Illini will return to action tomorrow at 9 a.m. for the final day of the three-day TYR Invitational. Tomorrow's finals start at 3 p.m.