Indiana Claims Conference Title in Dominating Fashion

Feb. 10, 2007

Championship Central

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The 2007 Big Ten Conference Women's Swimming and Diving Championships crowned a new champion Saturday night. After Penn State's back-to-back titles the past two years, the Indiana Hoosiers wanted a turn at the peak of the medal stand. A strong showing from both swimming and diving teams proved to be the difference as Indiana lead after day two and never looked back. In the end, Indiana took home the title with a strong 715.5-562 advantage over Michigan.

The Hoosiers entered the final day of competition at the University Aquatic Center on the campus of University of Minnesota with a comfortable 66-point lead over Penn State. The defending conference champs tried to close the deficit early, but the Hoosiers depth proved to be too much. The Big Ten title is the second in Indiana history, with the first coming in 2003.

Penn State followed Michigan with 537.5 points for third, and Minnesota used its home pool advantage to stay in the title hunt before finishing at fourth with 442 points. Wisconsin placed fifth with 413.5 points followed by Purdue's total of 302 and the Wildcats at 301. Rounding out the team standings are Ohio State in eighth with 187, Illinois in ninth with 176.5, Iowa in 10th with 108 and Michigan State with 44.

Indiana commanded the title count at the 2007 championships, claiming seven of the 21 titles. Michigan garnered the second most with five while Wisconsin finished with four, Minnesota earned three and Penn State took home two.

In Saturday's finals, Minnesota's Yuen Kobayashi might have been pushed by the home-pool advantage while she pulled ahead of the field and kicked off the night's festivities by repeating as 1650-yard freestyle champion. She swam a personal best 16:08.59, setting a new school record. Kobayashi's time ranks second in the nation while also improving on her own second fastest time in conference history. Keeping Kobayashi company was Michigan's Emily Brunemann who kept pace with the phenom and touched the wall second in 16:10.70, setting a new Wolverine record herself. The top four finishers in tonight's race motored to A-standard NCAA times. Wisconsin's Gabby Maddalena finished third in 16:15.13 and Penn State's Nikki Collins followed in fourth with a time of 16:19.56.

The Wolverines entered the event third in the team standings, but with three swimmers scoring in the top 16, Michigan vaulted ahead of Penn State by 1.5 points and into second place to trail only Indiana, 471.5-423.

Freshman Presley Bard held off two seniors to claim her first title of her career, pushing Indiana's total title count to five. Bard touched the wall almost a full second ahead of the field in 1:55.62. Wisconsin's Susan Johnson was behind Bard, clocking in at 1:56.58 and in the end disrupted a Hoosier sweep. Teammates Leila Vaziri and Ashley Jones joined Bard on the podium taking third and fourth, respectfully. The Wolverines continued to score points as defending title holder Kaitlyn Brady finished fifth in 1:57.78 and Hannah Smith touched the wall in seventh (1:59.36).

The second-place Wolverines continued to claw away at the lead in the following event as Lindsey Smith picked up her second title of the championships. Touching the wall first in the 100-yard freestyle event, Smith qualified for the NCAA Championships in March with a time of 49.04. Defending title holder Barbie Viney held on for a second place finish, clocking in at 49.26 while Northwestern's Andrea Hupman and last year's runner-up finished behind Viney again for third (49.32). The top three finishers qualified in A-standard qualifying times.

Last year's Freshman of the Year, Yi Ting Siow proved there is no such thing as a sophomore slump as she garnered her second title of the championships by winning the 200-yard breastroke in 2:11.91. Nearly three seconds later, second place finisher Amilee Smith touched the wall at 2:14.14 for the Hoosiers, followed closely behind by teammate Sarah Stockwell in 2:14.99. Penn State passed Michigan in the rankings with five Nittany Lion swimmers earning points in the event. Top finishers for Penn State included: Caitlin Meehan (fifth), Kaitlin O'Brien (sixth) and Clare Clemens (eighth).

By the end of the 18th event, Indiana dominated the top of the standings with nearly a 100 point differential between them and the second place team. Despite this seeming title lock, the Hoosiers hardly backed down. After rounding out morning prelims in eighth of the 200-yard butterfly, sophomore Allison Kay powered down the far lane to claim a victory in a time of 1:58.40 and out touch defending title holder Carlene Takaki of Purdue. Takaki clocked in at 1:58.86, and with the swim both Takaki and Kay are guaranteed a spot at the NCAA Championships in March. Ohio State's Griet Buelens captured third and Gulsah Gunenc claimed fourth for the Buckeyes. A trio of Nittany Lions followed with Kailey Morris, Kelly Nelson and Karie Haglund picking up fifth, sixth and seventh place finishes, respectfully. Michigan's Payton Johnson rounded out the championship event in eighth.

Indiana dominated the platform diving portion of the competition, scoring five divers. The Hoosier's Christina Loukas took the field by storm, securing a score of 358.80 for the title and complete her sweep of all three diving events. Her teammate Lindsay Weigle vaulted to a second place finish in her last dive that earned her two 9.0 from the judges and a 338.85 overall point total. Purdue's Amanda Miller finished with 288.90 points for third, and another Hoosier, Heather Chapman, turned in a score of 266.00 for fourth.

With first place secure, the battle for second waged into the final event. In third place of team standings, the Wolverines needed a strong showing in the 400-yard freestyle event to overcome a 15.5 point deficient to defending team champions, Penn State. The Wolverines took nothing to chance, racing to a Big Ten record and first place finish to vault them to a second place team finish. It was only the second Big Ten record set on the weekend after the Wolverines started the championships with a record breaking time in the 200-yard freestyle relay event. The Wolverines touched the wall in new record time of 3:18.40. Indiana's relay squad shocked the field in last year's final, taking the win in the final stretch, but were not far behind this year as they claimed second in 3:19.44. The Wildcat quartet of Andrea Hupman, Emily Wong, Katie Braun and Kassia Shishkoff helped Northwestern to a third place finish.