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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Junior Ally McHugh (Philadelphia, Pa.) claimed silver in the 400 individual medley at the Big Ten Championships for a second consecutive year to lead Penn State on the third day of competition at the meet Friday in Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
McHugh neared her own school record, touching second in 4:06.43 to earn the Nittany Lions’ first medal of the meet.
“She was swimming with a lot of heart and toughness,” said Penn State head coach Tim Murphy. “She was putting her out there on her swims for her team, so we’re really happy for her earning another Big Ten medal.”
Sophomore Maddie Hart (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) competed in a pair of finals, reaching her first career A-final in the 100 butterfly and also reaching in the B-final of the 100 backstroke. She posted her best times of the day in the prelims, swimming a 52.71 in the fly to become just the second sub 53-second performer all-time at Penn State, and a 53.35 in the 100 back prelims. Hart ultimately placed eighth in the 100 fly (52.71) and 13th in the 100 back (53.45). All of the times were B-cuts.
“She had a busy night, but some excellent swims,” said Murphy. “It was a tough double, but to finish in the top eight and top 16 was really good. It speaks well of the work she has done.”
Senior Tommie Dillione (Newtown, Pa.) reached the consolation finals in the 200 freestyle for a second consecutive year, swimming a season best and B-cut time of 1:46.87 in the preliminaries and finishing 16th in overall in 1:47.56 in the finals.
Also competing in the 400 IM was freshman Stephanie Szekely (Doylestown, Pa.), who posted a personal best and an NCAA B-cut time of 4:17.58 to place 17th.
“Coming back at night and beating some more people and dropping time again,” said Murphy. “That’s really impressive. I was very pleased with her swims.”
Penn State capped the night with the 200 free relay, as Katrina Kuhn (Piscataway, N.J.), Camryn Barry (Westlake Village, Calif.), Dillione and Ann Tolan (Bath, Maine) teamed up to place eighth in 1:32.29.
“They did a good job getting in the top eight,” said Murphy. “Katrina went 22.9, which is what we need her to do leading off relays, then Tommie and Cam, who are known more for their 200, 500, and in Cam’s case, her mile, dove in and did 23.2 for us, and then Ann Tolan the freshman anchored it in 22.9. So we’re proud of all four of them and getting in the top eight was a real nice reward for them.
The divers concluded competition, led by freshman Kamryn Umbel (Potomac, Md.) in the 3-meter dive with a score of 248.60. Sophomore Christina Crowell (Bedford Hills, Md.) led in the 1-meter Thursday (231.30).
“We saw some nerves on the first day of competition from our younger divers,” said Penn State diving coach Dennis Ceppa. “They illustrated considerably more confidence in their second-day events and the results improved accordingly. As a senior, McKayla Mawn illustrated how she never stopped working to improve her skills by performing the best reverse 2.5's she's done in competition throughout her career.”
Penn State ranks eighth as a team after three days with 294 points, trailing seventh-place Northwestern (349) and looking to fend off ninth-place Iowa (284).
“Up to this point in time, we have a lot of things to be proud of,” said Murphy. “We’ve got one more day and nearly everyone is swimming tomorrow. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m a proud of the group. From a team standpoint they are doing a nice job.
McHugh has seen success the past two days, as she broke her own school record in the 500 freestyle to lead three Penn State finalists on the second day of competition Thursday. She touched fourth in the event in 4:38.44, shaving 0.33 seconds off her previous record set in the same pool in November.
Joining McHugh with evening swims were seniors Niki Price (Manchester, Pa.) and Kuhn who also surpassed the NCAA B-cut standard and posted personal bests. Price’s best swim came in the preliminaries, as she ascended to fourth on Penn State’s all-time performers list in the 200 IM with a time of 1:58.18 to rank 11th, but slipped in the finals to 16th in 1:59.60.
Kuhn finished 20th overall in the 50 freestyle in 22.90 seconds, shaving six-hundredths off her prelim time.t
Penn State concluded Thursday with an 11th-place finish in the 400 medley relay with a season-best time of 3:39.43. Hart led the relay off with a 100 backstroke split of 52.72 seconds, which is an NCAA B-cut time and ranks her as the fourth-best performer all-time at Penn State in the 100 back.
Other notable 500 free efforts included a pair of personal bests. Szekely finished in 4:49.06 and sophomore Hannah Blaser (Doylestown, Pa.) finished in 4:54.40.
On the opening night Wednesday, the Nittany Lions set season bests in the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays, led by a NCAA B-cut performance and sixth-place finish in the 800, which freshman Barry, seniors Dillione and Price, and junior McHugh combined to finish in 7:07.32.
"Cam led off pretty much on top of her best time, Niki and Tommie were solid, and then Ally really closed out the evening for us running down two other teams," said Murphy. "It was a remarkable effort on her part.”
Penn State opened the evening with a seventh-place finish in the 200 medley relay in a season-best 1:38.80. Hart led off the effort, and was followed by freshman Maddie Cooke (Phoenixville, Pa.) and seniors Price and Kuhn.
"We put some freshmen in some big spots in the relays, and they responded," said Murphy. "The 200 medley relay was flat out solid. Maddie Cooke got us off to a good start - first Big Tens, first relay - with a nice split. Niki was really good in the 50 fly, and then Katrina had a really nice anchor split."
All sessions are being streamed live via BTN Plus on BTN2Go. 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.
Preliminary heats will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the finals scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 17 - 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. 17 - FINALS at 6:30 p.m.
400 Freestyle Relay