Indiana Divers Secure Hoosiers Lead After Day Two

Feb. 9, 2007

Championship Central

 

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Minneapolis, Minn. -- The 2007 Big Ten Championships boasted to showcase some of the nation's most talented swimming and diving competitors, and the conference's elite lived up to its billing on Friday at Minnesota's University Aquatic Center. Indiana, ranked No. 13 in the country, jumped into first place while the rest of the league, including four other nationally ranked squads, battled to catch them on a day of competition highlighted by five champions repeating 2006 titles and one swimmer claiming her fourth consecutive event title.

 

From the opening heat in Friday night's finals slate, races were won and lost by near .01 of a second. The reigning champion in the 200-yard freestyle medley, Wisconsin hung on just enough to edge out Indiana to claim back-to-back titles. Wisconsin's quartet consisted of Yi Ting Siow and Jackie Vavrek, two individual champions from last night's finals.  Siow was last night's 200-yard individual title holder while the relay rested on anchor Jackie Vavrek, Thursday's 50-yard freestyle champion. Wisconsin touched the wall in 1:39.57 while Indiana's relay team claimed a second place finish in a time of 1:39.60.

 

Penn State picked up major points in the next event by placing three Nittany Lions in the top five finishes of the 400-yard individual medley including the top spot. Kaitlin O'Brien led the field in morning preliminaries and hardly slowed as she defended her title from a year ago in a time of 4:14.60. Behind O'Brien, the Hoosiers took second and third as Allison Kay shed three and a half seconds off her prelim time to capture second and a NCAA provisional time. Freshman teammate Ashley Jones placed third in 4:16.20.

 

The 100-yard butterfly finals left off right where morning preliminaries ended with the same top three finishers repeating their order in tonight's finals. Although the results may not have been surprising, the race was anything but boring as the three top swimmers sprinted to the finish. Freshman Wolverine Margaret Kelly tried to upset defending title holder and teammate Kaitlyn Brady, but the senior would have nothing of it, out stretching Kelly at the wall in 53.41. Wisconsin Badger Susan Johnson took a third place finish in 53.87, just .04 seconds off of Kelly's second place time of 53.83. The win was Brady's second of the championships.  

                                                                                                                                                                

After Indiana controlled the leader board after the first three events, the Wolverines took back the lead in the 200-yard freestyle event. Improving on her title swim a year ago, Lindsey Smith completed a career sweep to claim her fourth Big Ten title in the event within a NCAA A-standard time of 1:46.21. Minnesota sophomore Yuen Kobayashi moved a spot on the medal stand from a year ago taking second with a time of 1:47.69 and Penn State's Kelly Nelson took third place in 1:48.67. Liz Klanderman finished eighth in this morning's prelims, however made her move on the far lane tonight, claiming a fourth place finish for the Wisconsin Badgers to round out the top four spots.  

 

Nittany Lion Lyndsey Smith claimed her first Big Ten title in the 100-yard breaststroke when she touched the wall in 1:01.87. Indiana's Sarah Stockwell placed second in 1:02.45 and Caitlin Meehan climbed five spots from morning prelims to round out the top three spots with a time of 1:02.97.

 

Runner-up in last year's 100-yard backstroke, senior Leila Vaziri finally made claim to the title, doing so in emphatic fashion and making sure to leave her mark. Vaziri blazed to a NCAA A-standard time of 52.85 while also re-writing the record books with a new Big Ten record to her name. Trying to keep up with Vaziri, nearly two seconds behind was teammate Presley Bard. Wisconsin Susan Johnson broke up the Hoosier one-two punch with a third place finish in 54.26.

 

By the end of Friday night's individual events Indiana maintained a slight margin over Penn State going into the diving competition. Often practicing and competing separately throughout the season, Indiana's swimming and diving teams came together tonight to help secure the lead after day two of competition.

 

Indiana's Christina Loukas can't be found in the last year's three-meter spring board finals, yet she was ever present after morning prelims that placed her atop the standings and again in tonight's finals. After claiming the one-meter spring board event the day before, Loukas blew the competition away and staked claim to her second diving title of the championships with a score of 387.95. Purdue's Amanda Miller was the closest to Loukas with a 378.90 score and Indiana freshman Brittney Feldman padded the Hoosier's lead with a 336.60 point third place finish headed into the final event of the night.

 

The Hoosiers swam to a fourth place finish in the 800-yard freestyle relay, but it was enough to lead the conference teams into the final day of competition. Behind last year's Freshman of the Year in Yuen Kobayashi and this year's 500-yard freestyle title holder Christine Jennings, Minnesota repeated as relay champions. Northwestern finished second in 7:13.92 while Penn State rounded out the top three with a time of 7:15.72 to end day two of Big Ten Championship competition.

Prior to tonight's finals honorees for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award from each team were recognized. The student-athletes chosen were individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for women's swimming and diving are Illinois' Caroline Moore, Indiana's Christie Fuchs, Iowa's Robin Samples, Michigan's Lindsey Smith, Michigan State's Danielle Sawyer, Minnesota's Holly Jakis, Northwestern's Jessie Bailis, Ohio State's Rebekah Rychvalsky, Penn State's Erin Morris, Purdue's Rory Belk and Wisconsin's Kristy Brager. These eleven student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.

The 2007 Big Ten Conference title race will come down to the final day of competition on Saturday, February 9. Preliminary events kick off at 11:00 a.m. CT. The championships final session will start at 7:00 p.m. CT with one relay event team, five individual titles, a platform diving champion and a team champion to be crowned. Check back to BigTen.org for live results and continuing coverage of the 2007 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.

Championship Standings

 

1. Indiana                      453.5

2. Penn State                387.5

3. Michigan                  378

4. Minnesota                307

5. Wisconsin                305.5

6. Purdue                       207

7. Northwestern           206

8. Ohio State                 129

9. Illinois                        119.5

10. Iowa                         79

11. Michigan State       30