Penn State leads 2006 Big Ten Championships by two at end of day three

Feb. 17, 2006


COLUMBUS, Ohio - After the first full day of competition at the 2006 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Divning Championships on Thursday saw more than a hundred NCAA qualifications set, including 25 A-standard marks, the day three slate had plenty of hype to live up to.

The records continued to fall Friday, and the team competition grew fierce between Penn State and Michigan with several squads moving into championship contention. Minnesota entered day three of competition with a seven-point lead over Michigan for first in the team standings and leads the field with 13 swimmers entering finals compeition but no lead was safe, and Penn State made the most of its 12 finals competitors to take a 372-370 lead over Michigan in the team standings.

400-yard medley relay
Michigan didn't waste any time moving to the top of the team standings. Off the blocks in the 400-yard medley relay, the Wolverines were deadlocked with Wisconsin and Penn State until the final stretch. With the Nittany Lions fading, Michigan's Lindsey Smith sealed her team's win, pulling away from Wisconsin's Sarah Hernandez in the finals yards to touch the wall first at 3:38.45. The time earned a B-standard qualifying mark and eclipsed the pool record set by Penn State in January. The quartet of Smith, Kaitlyn Brady, Justine Mueller and Payton Johnson won Michigan's fourth title of the championships. The win gave the Wolverines enough points to take a 233-222 lead over Minnesota in the team standings.

The Badgers finished at 3:39.05 for second and qualified for the NCAA meet with a B-standard mark. Penn State's squad kept the Nittany Lions in the team title hunt with a third-place finish of 3:40.08. The relay crews from Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern also qualified provisionally for nationals.

400-yard individual medley
The 400-yard individual medley takes versatile experience in all four strokes, and several conference freshmen made their case that age is only a number. Penn State's battle to repeat as team champion hinged on their underclassmen's success in the 400-yard event. The Nittany Lions placed three swimmers in the top six, including freshman Kailtin O'Brien who reached the wall first, to move ahead of Minnesota in second place. O'Brien commanded the lead during the entire race, setting a new McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion pool record at 4:12.03. She also punched her ticket for the NCAA Championships in March, beating the field by more than three seconds.

Minnesota freshman Jenny Shaughnessy notched a second-place time of 4:15.13 to qualify for the NCAAs while another Nittany Lion, Kelly Nelson, finished third with an A-standard qualifying time of 4:15.31. Defending champion Justine Mueller missed the bronze by three hundredths of a second, touching the wall at 4:15.34. Her performance was good enough to keep the Wolverines in the team lead ahead of Penn State, 262-249.

100-yard butterfly
"Hail to the Victors" continued to ring out in McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion following the 100-yard butterfly. Michigan's Brady claimed her fourth and the Wolverines' crown of the championships with a spectacular race. Her time of 52.60 marked the best finish in conference history, eclipsing the new championships record and meet record she set in the preliminary event. After finishing second in the 2005 championship finals to Penn State's Amberle Biedermann, Brady topped her personal-best on the season and moved to second in the national rankings.

Purdue's Carlene Takaki finished second with a provisional qualifying time of 54.29. She also set a Boilermaker record with the time. Penn State seniors Sarah Haupt and Biedermann finished back-to-back at third and fourth respecitively to keep the Nittany Lions within reach of a team first. Haupt earned a B-standard mark of 54.34 while Biedermann also qualified provisionally for nationals with a time of 54.61.

200-yard freestyle
Lindsey Smith claimed her second championship of the night in the 200-yard freestyle to give the Wolverines their biggest lead of the night, 325-299 over Penn State. Smith automatically qualified for nationals with a first-place time of 1:47.05, which also erased the pool record set by Penn State's Kristina Nelson in the prelims.

Northwestern's Andrea Hupman edged Minnesota's Yuen Kobayashi for second, finishing at 1:47.31. Kobayashi, who won the 500-yard freestyle competition, notched a provisional qualifying time of 1:47.44 for third. The hosting Buckeyes placed two swimmers in the top eight. Senior Nicole Maglich clocked a B-standard time of 1:48.19 while Griet Buelens finished eighth at 1:49.06.

100-yard breaststroke
Wisconsin senior Amalia Sarnecki touched the wall first in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:02.63. She set a new pool record, beating the time she set in the earlier prelim, and earned a provisional qualifying spot at the NCAA meet. Northwestern freshman Hayley Fry quickly followed in second at 1:02.83 followed by Penn State freshman Abby Hoisington at 1:03.10 for third. Both garnered B-standard NCAA qualifications. Hoisington's teammate Caitlin Meehan finished seventh with a time of 1:04.10 to help pull the Nittany Lions within five points of Michigan in the team standings.

100-yard backstroke
After setting a new pool record in the 100-yard backstroke prelim, the 2003 champion Sarah Haupt had enough momentum to cruise to another title in the event Friday night. Touching the wall first at 54.04, Haupt automatically qualified for the NCAAs while teammate Erin Morris provisionally qualified with a third-place time of 55.12. The duo put the defending champion Nittany Lions in first place in the team standings, ahead of Michigan 372-356. In second, Indiana's Leila Vaziri finished at 54.43 for another A-standard qualifying mark. Iowa's Kelly Werner (55.53), Minnesota's Katie Wind (55.69) and Michigan's Carolina Sierra (55.84) rounded out the top six and all claimed B-standard qualifying marks.

Three-meter diving
After cruising to a top seed with a preliminary win in the three-meter diving competition, Northwestern freshman Chelsea Davis claimed her first Big Ten championships crown with a score of 388.10. The only diver to earn a "9.0" rating from the judges, Davis also set a championships record with her six-dive tally. Purdue's Carrie McCambridge, who finished seventh in last year's final, earned second with a total of 380.50. Ohio State's Julie Broms rounded out the top three with a third-place score of 346.35. Michigan's Elyse Lee turned in a seventh-place finish of 288.45 to earn enough points to pull the Wolverines within two of Penn State in the team standings.

Heading into the final day of competition, the reigning Big Ten Champion Nittany Lions lead Michigan 372-370. Minnesota is third with 339 points followed by Indiana at 304, Purdue at 287, Wisconsin at 244, Northwestern at 190, Ohio State at 189, Illinois at 132 and Michigan State at 85.

The 2006 Big Ten Conference title race will come down to the final day of competition on Saturday, February 18. Preliminary evetns kick off at 11:00 a.m. ET. The championships final session will start at 7:00 p.m. ET with one relay event team, five individual titles, a platform diving champion and a team champion to be crowned. Check back to for live results and continuing coverage of the 2006 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.