Penn State in Commanding Lead after Third Day of Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships

Feb. 18, 2005

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The penultimate day of competition in the 2005 Big Ten Conference Women's Swimming ad Diving Championships saw Penn State rack up points and a large lead here Friday (February 18) at the Cousilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center on the campus of Indiana University.

The Nittany Lions will enter Saturday's (February 19) final day of competition with their second Big Ten crown with in their sights after increasing their lead to 145 points and a grand total of 485 team points.

Off the blocks first in Friday's preliminary session was the 400-yard individual medley. Penn State secured three spots in the championship race with sophomore Megan Palera recording a top qualifying time of 4:15.35. Palera's time is also an "A" standard for the NCAA Championships. The next six qualifiers in the prelims were all "B" standard times.

Already possessing the Big Ten Conference and Big Ten meet record, Penn State's Amberle Biedermann now holds the Cousilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center pool record after her performance in the 100-yard butterfly. The junior clocked in at 53.81 to set the new bench mark and qualify as a "B" standard in the event. All top ten swimmers in the event made the "B" standard for the NCAA Championships in March. The final in the event would also be heavy with Nittany Lions as Sarah Haupt and Jennifer Eberst joined Biederman in the championship heat.

Twenty-two swimmers made the "B" standard in the 200-yard freestyle event based on the preliminaries. Northwestern's Andrea Hupman and Michigan's Lindsay Smith were the top qualifiers, both touching the wall in 1:47.69. Qualifying third was Olympic gold medalist and this year's 500-yard freestyle champion Carley Piper with a time of 1:48.10.

Next up was the 100-yard breaststroke event where once again the Nittany Lions showed how deep their team is. Penn State senior's Courtney Stanchock and Kristen Woodring qualified first and second with NCAA "A" standard times of 1:01.60 and 1:01.90, respectively. Woodring is already the Big Ten Conference, Big Ten meet and pool record holder in the event with her time of 59.77 in 2001.



The 100-yard backstroke prelims were the final event of the morning session. All eight swimmers in the final made "A" or "B" standards for the NCAA Championships with all eight qualifying times within one-point-four seconds of each other. The Nittany Lion's Haupt set the benchmark with an "A" standard time of 54.39. Rounding out the top three qualifiers was Indiana's Leila Vaziri and Wisconsin's Susan Johnson in second and third with "A" standard times of 54.41 and 54.42, respectively.

For the final qualifying event of the morning, the divers took to the boards for the three-meter springboard preliminaries. Like Thursday (February 17), Indiana had several strong performances and sent four divers into the championship round. Christina Loukas led the way with her second-place qualifying time of 538.00. Joining Loukas from the Hoosiers was Cassandra Cardinal, Lindsay Weigle and Lisa Silvestri. Iowa's Nancilea Underwood recorded the top preliminary score with a 540.10.

The third night of finals began with the Nittany Lions adding to their leading point total with a victory in the 400-yard medley relay. Haupt, Biedermann, Woodring and Lauren Preyess nabbed the title with a time of 3:38.79. Wisconsin, Purdue and Northwestern rounded out the top four with all four squads making the "B" standard for NCAA's.
Penn State upped its point total to 278 but their lead over the second place team would grow even further after Michigan's quartet was disqualified during the relay. As a result, the Wolverine's were awarded no points and dropped down to fourth place overall still with 199 points. Wisconsin assumed the second spot with 215 points with Indiana third at 201.

The Maize and Blue would gain back valuable points in the next event - the 400-yard individual medley. Freshman Justine Mueller claimed first place in the event with a swim of 4:12.37, good enough for a facility record and an NCAA "A" standard. Penn State, however, had three swimmers in the event and maintained a sizeable lead with 326 points over Wisconsin's 241 and Michigan - back into the top three with the win - at 226.

The Nittany Lion advantage would grow even further after the 100-yard butterfly with Biedermann adding another Big Ten title to her already formidable repertoire. The junior won the race in 54.10 and in combination with two other PSU swimmers in the event, gave her team a 100-point lead in the overall competition. Also, in the event 10 Big Ten swimmers made the "B" standard for the NCAA Championships at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in mid-March.

After 10 events, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Purdue found themselves in the top five with 274, 244, 238 and 190 points respectively. All of the schools however were looking up at Penn State's 374 points.

In the 200-yard freestyle, Michigan did its best to chip away at the Penn State deficit by claiming first and second place in the event. Lindsay Smith broke the Big Ten Conference, Big Ten meet, school and pool record with her NCAA "A" standard swim of 1:45.26. Teammate Amy McCullough finished second with an "A" standard time of 1:46.53 to boost U-M's point total to 281. However, Michigan remained in third place behind the Nittany Lions (392 points) and Badgers (281). In addition, Northwestern's Andrea Hupman made "A" standard for NCAA's with a third place time of 1:46.73.

Once again Penn State would use its depth to pull further away from the pack in the 100-yard breaststroke. Seniors Krisitin Woodring and Courtney Stanchock claimed first and second place in the event with times of 1:01.41 and 1:01.55, respectively. Coming in third was Amalia Sarnecki of Wisconsin in a time of 1:01.72. All three times are NCAA "A" standards.

With the two top finishes the Nittany Lions point total soared to 442 for the championships, 120 points ahead of Wisconsin. Michigan remained third at 292 points followed by Indiana at 258 and Purdue at 223 to close out the top five.
The host Hoosiers pulled down their first swimming event win of the championships in the 100-yard backstroke to close out the swimming portion of Friday night's program. Sophomore Leila Vaziri won the event, touching the wall in 53.64 and making the NCAA "A" standard in the process. The Badger's Susan Johnson and Penn State's Sarah Haupt comprised the top three finishers in the event - both with "A" standard times.

With four divers competing in the final event of the evening - the three-meter springboard - Indiana was now within striking distance of second place with 281 points. Wisconsin and Michigan were just ahead of the Hoosiers with 339 and 304 points respectively. Penn State maintained a large lead with 479 points.

Despite a score of 75.40 on her final dive, IU's Chrsistina Loukas was unable to capture her second diving title of the championships as she fell just under three points shy of Ohio State's Julie Broms. A sophomore, Broms tallied 583.45 points to win the championship. In addition to Loukas second place finish the Hoosiers placed divers third (Cassandra Cardinal), fourth (Lisa Silvestri) and eighth (Lindsay Weigle) in the event

Those scores vaulted IU into second place by one point over Wisconsin's 339 team points. Michigan remained third with 309 points followed by Purdue at 255, Minnesota at 211, Northwestern at 191, Iowa at 174, Ohio State at 141, Illinois at 137 and Michigan State at 62.

The 2005 Big Ten Conference title will still be up for grabs on Saturday (February 19) when the final day of competition kicks off at 11:00 a.m. eastern time with preliminary action. The championships final session will start at 7:00 p.m. eastern time Saturday night with one relay event team, five individual titles, a diving champion and a team champion to be crowned.