Junior Erin Lamb earned three first-place finishes in individual events this summer.
Aug. 31, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -Twenty-six members of the Fighting Illini Swimming and Diving team, including 21 returning and seven incoming student-athletes, competed in a number of events over the summer. Illini swimmers earned 11 first-place finishes, in addition to coming in second or third eight times.
First up for the Orange and Blue was the Boilermaker Early Bird Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., from May 20-21. Ten Illini participated in the meet, earning seven top-ten finishes in individual events. Illinois' two relay teams led the way, finishing first (4:03.93) in the 400 free to set a meet record, and second in the 400 medley.
Senior Rachel Japp Joyce finished third in the 200 breast and raced with the second-place relay squad, while junior Erin Lamb earned fourth in the 200 back in and swam on both relay teams. The Naperville, Ill., native also finished fifth in the 100 free, sixth in the 200 free and 100 back and seventh in the 50 free. Classmate Kathleen Knight earned a sixth place finish in the 200 fly to go with her first-place performance in the 400 free relay.
Three additional Illini placed seventh in their events, including sophomore Courtney Pope in the 400 free, senior Brittany McGowan in the 100 fly and junior Alyssa Petruzzello in the 200 fly. Pope and McGowan were members of both relay teams, and Pope posted an eighth-place finish in the 100 free. Also placing eighth was junior Sarah Coady in the 200 breast, while sophomores Alyssa Toland and Emily Wilkinson and junior Kimberly Kalenda also competed at the meet.
Fourteen Illini took to the pool at the Champaign County YMCA Heat Illinois Open in Champaign, Ill., from June 24-26, winning 10 of the 13 events at the meet. Pope and Lamb led the Orange and Blue with three first-place finishes apiece -- Pope in the 50 free, 100 free and 200 free and Lamb in the 400 free, 100 back and 200 back.
Junior Erin Rodriguez also sustained success throughout the event with top finishes in the 400 individual medley and 200 IM. Rounding out the top finishers were Knight in the 200 fly and McGowan in the 100 fly. Also competing at the open were seniors Michelle Mehnert, Kelly Kunkel and Caitlin Conroy, Coady, Toland, Wilkinson, Petruzzello, Japp Joyce, and Kalenda.
Next up, three returning and two incoming Orange and Blue swimmers participated in the Illinois Swimming Senior State Championships in Evanston, Ill., from July 15-17. Petruzzello earned a third-place finish in the 100 fly and came in ninth in the 200 fly. Senior April McKee finished ninth in the 200 IM and 17th in the 400 free. Sophomore Emma Williams swam to a 10th-place finish in the 200 IM, while newcomer Alexa Chavez finished 10th in the 200 back, 14th in the 100 free, 16th in the 200 free and 18th in the 100 back. Incoming freshman Katie Roeing also competed.
Following the Illinois Championships, several Fighting Illini traveled to the Wisconsin Swimming State Championships in Brown Deer, Ind., from July 28-30. Sophomore Marin Thompson finished fifth in the 200 fly, eighth in the 100 fly, 10th in the 200 IM and 11th in the 200 IM. Incoming freshman Kayla Dlugopolski came in third in the 800 free and 1500 free, fourth in the 400 free, eighth in the 400 IM and ninth in the 200 breast. Meanwhile, fellow newcomer Alison Meng placed third in the 100 fly, fourth in the 50 free, fifth in the 100 back, sixth in the 100 free and 200 fly and 12th in the 200 back.
Throughout the summer, 22 Illini participated in three different Speedo Sectional Championships. Leading the Orange and Blue was Pope with a third-place finish in the 200 free. The Homer Glen, Ill., native also broke Jessica Aveyard's 200m freestyle recording leading off the 800 free relay. The 800 free relay team of Pope, Toland, Kunkel and Lamb swam to a third-place, record-breaking finish with a time of 8:33.70. Pope, Lamb, Kunkel and Kalenda also broke a record in the 400 free relay, earning fourth place in 3:55.72. Coady, Japp Joyce, McGowan and Lamb finished sixth in the 400 medley relay (4:29.00).
Other top-10 finishers included Pope in the 100 free and 200 IM (10th), sophomore Erica Lynn in the 200 breast (eighth) and classmate Jessica Holz in the 200 back (10th). Holz also posted a 15th-place finish in the 100 back. Two Illini swam to 12th place finishes, including Pope in the 400 free and McGowan in the 100 fly, while Lynn and Dlugopolski finished 13th in the 100 breast and 800 free, respectively. Pope and newcomer Mary Beth Howard also finished 14th in the 50 free and 100 free, respectively.
An Illini duo posted 19th-place finishes, including Lamb in the 50 free and Knight in the 200 fly. Lamb finished 20th in the 200 free and 22nd in the 100 free, while Kalenda finished 20th in the 50 free, and Coady came in 21st in the 200 back. Rounding out the Illini finishers was Rodriguez, who swam to a 21st-place finish in the 400 IM and placed 24th in the 200 fly. Freshmen Hailey Booth and Megan Marchuk, Thompson, Conroy, Wilkinson, Roeing, Chavez, and Williams also participated in the sectionals.
Four returning Illini swimmers competed in Palo Alto, Calif., from August 2-6 at the USA Swimming ConocoPhillips National Championships. Pope, McGowan, Rodriguez and Lamb competed in the 400 free relay, while McGowan and Rodriguez also swam in the 100 fly and 400 IM, respectively. Lamb additionally time trialed the 100 free, earning her Winter National Time standard with a 57.80, while her time trial in the 50 free (26.91) broke former Illini Barbie Viney's long course school record.
Howard represented her club team in the USA Swimming Junior National Championships in Palo Alto, Calif., Aug. 8-12, swimming the 400 free relay.
Also swimming individually this summer was Mehnert, who participated in three triathlons, a national championship and her first half-ironman distance race. Mehnert finished seventh at the Memphis in May Triathlon in Memphis, Tenn., May 22. Following that performance, the Champaign, Ill., native posted a third-place finish in the Ironman 70.3 Kansas in Lawrence, Kans., June 12. Mehnert continued competition at the Evergreen Triathlon in Hudson, Ill., July 16, placing second, before finishing fourth in the Music City Triathlon on July 25 in Nashville, Tenn. Mehnert rounded out her busy summer by placing eleventh at the USAT Age Group National Championships in Burlington, Vt., Aug. 20, to qualify for the 2012 Age Group World Championships (20-24 AG).
The Fighting Illini open the 2011-12 season on Saturday, Oct. 8, hosting the Orange and Blue Invitational at the ARC in Champaign, Ill.