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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Penn State had four representatives advance to the finals of the 500 freestyle and Katie Saloky (Bloomsburg, Pa.) reached the A final of the 50 free to lead the Nittany Lions Thursday evening at the Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships in Boilermaker Aquatic Center on the campus of Purdue University.
After seven completed events, Penn State ranks eighth with 174 points. Iowa (172) and Rutgers (171.5) trail in ninth and 10th respectively, while Indiana leads with 393 points.
Saloky earned the highest placing, touching eighth in her first Big Ten A-finals appearance in 22.60 seconds. She became the third-fastest Penn State performer in the event all-time in the preliminaries with a personal-best of 22.39 that ranked her fourth entering the finals.
“The 50 frees were solid,” said Murphy. “Saloky had a big time swim this morning, and said she got caught up in her turn a little bit tonight, so it was a little off in the finals.”
Casey Francis (East Meadow, N.Y.) and Sienna Salvaggio (Allentown, Pa.) led a quartet of 500 free finalists in the ‘B’ final. Francis placed 12th in a season-best 4:42.59, and Salvaggio placed 14th in a personal-best 4:44.28.
Ally McHugh (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Katelyn Sowinski (Severna Park, Md.) both reached the C-final. McHugh was the 24th and final preliminary qualifier, but she improved by more than five seconds in the finals to touch in 4:41.70, less than one second off of the Penn State record to now rank as the second fastest performer all-time in the event for the Lions. The time was good for second in the heat, which placed her 18th overall. Sowinski placed 24th (4:51.85).
“We had some real strong 500s, and they were highlighted by Ally McHugh, who slipped in in 24th, and then made a time in the finals that will probably send her to NCAAs,” said Murphy. “That was a monster swim.”
Rounding out Penn State’s individual competitors was Mackenzie Cornell (Germantown, Md.), who placed 23rd in the 1-meter dive with a score of 252.55.
The night concluded with a ninth-place finish in the 400 medley relay, as Niki Price (Manchester, Pa.), Saloky, Maddie Hart (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) and Tommie Dillione (Newtown, Pa.) combined to finish in a season-best 3:38.28.
“The relay swims were good, so I think with a day-and-a-half in the books now, we’re in a real dogfight with two pointsor so separating eighth, ninth and 10th place,” said Murphy. “We have our work cut out for us, but the girls should feed off of each other and be excited for what they got accomplished today. We’ll come back tomorrow morning and pick-up where we left off.”
On Wednesday, the Nittany Lions’ top performance came in the 800 free relay as Dillione and Price and freshmen Heather MacDougall (La Crescenta, Calif.) and Salvaggio earned a seventh-place finish in 7:09.40.
The meet continues with preliminary heats beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with the finals scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. each night.
All sessions are being streamed live via BTN Plus on BTN2Go. The Big Ten Network will also televise Saturday's finals Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10:30 a.m. ET. Complimentary access to BTN2Go is available to viewers connected to the internet network of a Big Ten university. Fans elsewhere can sign up for the pay-per-view webcasts.
Friday, Feb. 17 - PRELIMS at 11 a.m.
400 Individual Medley
3-Meter Diving - Trials (1 p.m.)
3-Meter Diving - Consolation Final
Friday, Feb. 17 - FINALS at 6:30 p.m.
400 Individual Medley
200 Freestyle Relay
Saturday, Feb. 18 - PRELIMS at 11 a.m.
Platform Diving - Trials (1 p.m.)
Platform Diving - Consolation Final
1,650 Freestyle (Approx. 4:15 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 18 - FINALS at 6:30 p.m.
400 Freestyle Relay