Feb. 18, 2006
COLUMBUS, Ohio - With the team championship standings separated by the slimmest of margins, Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion echoed with intensity from the first "Take your mark" of Saturday's preliminary competition.
Minnesota entered day three of competition with a seven-point lead over Michigan for first in the team standings, the title race quickly became a back-and-forth battle in the finals between Michigan and Penn State. The Nittany Lions took the lead to end day three competition and currently lead by two points heading into the finals competition, but the Michigan Wolverines are bearing down in second.
The battle between Penn State and Michigan for spots in the championship finals started fast and furious off the blocks with the 200-yard backstroke. Michigan's Kaitlyn Brady crusied to first place, putting together one of the best races in conference history. She beat the rest of the field by a full second and earned the top seed in the finals with a time of 1:57.11. Her teammates Hannah Smith and Carolina Sierra placed third and sixth, respectively, to give the Wolverines three swimmers in the finals. Smith earned a B-standard qualifying mark with a time of 2:00.66.
Penn State countered with three swimmers earning their lanes in the championship final. Erin Morris led the Nittany Lions at 1:58.57 for third place. Sarah Haupt, who took home the title in the 100-yard backstroke final Friday night, earned fifth place with a time of 2:00.39 followed by Jessica Barnes' eighth place time of 2:01.27. Both Haupt and Barnes also garnered B-standard qualifying marks.
Minnesota's Katie Wind matched the A-standard qualifying mark of 1:58.24 to the exact one hundredth of a second to claim the No. 2 spot in the finals. Another Gopher, Jennifer Shaughessy, will advance to the finals after a 1:59.32 time for fourth and a provisional qualification. Rounding out the top eight is Iowa's Kelly Werner, who finished seventh with a B-standard time of 2:00.97.
Wisconsin's Susan Johnson, the event's two-time defending champion, missed the cut for the championship final by .61. With a ninth-place finish in the prelim race, Johnson will enter tonight's consolation final with the top seed.
Illinois' Barb Viney raced to an Illinois school record finish of 49.06. Her A-standard qualifying time, set a new McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion record and ranks as the fourth-fastest time in league history. Indiana's Annic Lofstedt touched the wall next with a provisional qualifying time of 49.73 for second. Northwestern's Andrea Hupman clocked in at 49.91 for third, barely edging Michigan's Lindsey Smith. The reigning champion in the 100-yard free, Smith reached the finish at 49.91 for fourth.
Wisconsin's Sara Hernandez finished next with a time of 50.27 followed closely by two Minnesota swimmers in the fifth and sixth spots. Meredith McCarthy timed a 50.37 finish, and Stacy Busack notched a 50.46 time for the Gophers. Viney's teammate Meghan Farrell rounds out the championship final lineup with an eighth place time of 50.54. All of the top eight qualified provisionally for the NCAA meet.
Wisconsin freshman Yi Ting Siow has already earned a trip to the NCAA meet and holds the second-fastest time in the country in the 200-yard breast stroke. With her first place performance in the preliminary race, Siow looks poised to conquer another feat in her rookie season. She passed the field by more than a second, finishing at 2:15.04. Defending champion Justine Mueller clocked in at 2:16.42 for second followed by two freshmen who tied for third. Penn State's Kailtin O'Brien and Indiana's Sara Stockwell were deadlocked down the final stretch and reached the wall at 2:18.50.
Siow's teammate Amalia Sarnecki earned the No. 5 slot in the championship final with a time of 2:17.28 while Illinois' Marissa Clapp earned sixth with a finish of 2:17.40. Purdue's Rory Belk edged the Nittany Lions' Abby Hoisington by one-hundredth of a second, finishing seventh at 2:17.64. Hoisington rounds out the eight-swimmer championship race with her time of 2:17.65.
Ohio State's Gunenc Gulsah might have been pushed by the home-pool advantage while she pulled ahead of the field in the final stretch of the 200-yard butterfly preliminary race. The reigning conference champion, Gunenc clocked in at 1:58.80 for first place, setting new school and McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion pool records. The hosting Buckeyes had two swimmers qualify for the championship final with Griet Buelens finishing in sixth at 1:59.97.
Penn State's Kelly Nelson touched the wall for second at 1:58.93. Purdue's Carlene Takaki edged Indiana's Allison Kay by three hundredths of a second, timing a 1:59.52 race for third. Takaki's 1:59.55 placed her in fourth followed by Penn State's Karie Haglund at 1:59.72 for fifth. Wisconsin's Jenny Gelden (2:00.82) and Michigan's Payton Johnson (2:01.52) complete the lineup for tonight's champion ship final. Penn State's Amberle Biedermann barely missed the top eight, finishing four-hundredths of a second behind Johnson. Biedermann clocked a 2:01.56 time for ninth place, giving Penn State a total of eight finals competitors. Illinois and Purdue also advanced eight while Michigan counts seven. Minnesota and Wisconsin both send nine.
Three-meter spring board diving preliminary competition is currently underway McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The 1650-yard freestyle finals competition will begin at approximately 4:30 ET and will continue throughout the afternoon. The competition has been dominated by Minnesota all season. The Gophers' Yuen Kobayashi ranks first in the event with a time of 16:28.02, and her teammate Christine Jennings holds the conference's second-fastest time this season, 16:33.35.
The championships grand finale begins at 7:00 p.m. ET when, in addition to these events, conference-swimming champions will be crowned in the 400-yard freestyle relay and 1,650-yard freestyle. Check back to BigTen.org for live results and continuing coverage of the 2006 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.