Illini Begin Action at Northwestern Invitational
Nov. 18, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Fighting Illini swimming and diving team finished its first day of action at the Northwestern Invitational Friday night in second place after tallying 216 points through seven events. The Illini will work tomorrow to close the gap between themselves and current first-place team, Northwestern (267 points).
"We came out of the gates really strong this morning and did a great job of giving ourselves some opportunities to get second swims, which is what we wanted to accomplish here at this meet," Illini head coach Sue Novitsky said. "We did a great job of putting ourselves in a spot where we wanted to be heading into the finals. We have to come back strong in the morning and get ourselves those second swim opportunities. We have to come into the morning focused and take the events one at a time. We raced with a lot of energy and were a great team on deck this morning. We just have to learn how to take that into the night session."
The Orange and Blue began the night with a third-place finish in the 200 free relay, as seniors Kristen Manias and Brittany McGowan, junior Erin Lamb and sophomore Courtney Pope posted a season-best time of 1:33.79, which is the ninth-fastest 200 free relay time in school history.
The relay success continued with a fifth-place finish in the 400 medley relay, as freshman Alison Meng, sophomore Erica Lynn, McGowan and Manias posted another season-best time (3:49.90) for the Illini.
Fifteen swimmers, including senior April McKee, juniors Sarah Coady and Kim Kalenda and sophomore Courtney Pope in two events apiece, represented the Illini in individual event finals after advancing in the preliminary round this morning.
Senior Torrey Loper secured a personal-best time of 4:57.03 to finish third in the 500 free, while Pope placed fifth (4:58.98) in the same event after posting a personal-best time of 4:58.89 in prelims. Pope posted another personal best and tied Manias for fifth place in the 50 free (23.70). Meanwhile, senior Rachel Japp Joyce posted a lifetime-best in the prelim swim of the 50 breast (29.85), making her the third-fastest individual in the 50 breast in school history. Rodriguez later became the fourth-fastest individual to swim the 50 breast in school history with her sixth-place finish in the final (29.87).
The Illini were also aided by McGowan, who secured a seventh-place finish in the 50 free (23.90) after swimming a personal-best 23.80 in prelims, and junior Erin Rodriguez, who finished seventh in the 200 IM (2:07.22) after posting a season-best time of 2:06.79 in prelims.
Also contributing to the point total for Illinois were McKee, who swam a personal-best time of 30.60 in the 50 breast, Kunkel (5:03.34 - 500 free), Lamb (24.05 - 50 free) and Kalenda (24.07 - 50 free), who swam a lifetime-best 23.96 in prelims.
On the boards, four Illini dove in the three-meter finals. Juniors Tessa Adams and Keri Eberhardt finished fifth (241.60) and sixth (233.50), respectively, while classmate Darragh McDermott placed eighth (231.25), and senior Britni Fisher finished in ninth with a score of 267.15.
The Illini will continue action at the Northwestern Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m. CT. Live stats will be available HERE. Visit fightingillini.com for complete results and recap.