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Thursday, Mar. 16 -18|
36th, 10 points
|IU Natatorium | Indianapolis, Ind.|
INDIANAPOLIS – Penn State sophomore Ally McHugh (Philadelphia, Pa.) earned her second honorable mention All-America honor in as many days, as her school-record performance in the mile highlighted the Nittany Lions’ performances on the final day of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday in IU Natatorium.
By virtue of McHugh’s two scoring performances, the Penn State placed 36th as a team with 10 points. Stanford was crowned as the National Champion.
“Assistant coach Erik Posegay did a really nice job with these ladies all year, preparing all three for this meet, and their swims showed,” said Penn State head coach Tim Murphy. “This is the fastest meet in the country, and they had a lot of swims that were better than Big Tens, which is extremely hard to do, and on top of that, McHugh finished 10th in mile, and she’s only swam it a handful of times. It’s just a real nice way to finish up. The ladies did us proud and we’re proud of them.”
McHugh finished the 1,650 freestyle in 15:58.92 to place 10th for her best finish of the meet. She broke the school record set by senior Casey Francis (East Meadow, N.Y.) in 2015 of 16:05.37. McHugh was last in her heat at the 500-yard mark, but she battled back to nearly win it.
“That was a monster swim on her part,” said Murphy. “For her to mentally stay in the race after getting back behind, and then to just physically turn it on – we had a lot of fun watching it! We were jumping up and down (on the deck.)”
Francis also competed in the race and placed a career-best 24th in a season-best 16:08.79.
For Francis and classmate Katelyn Sowinski (Severna Park, Md.), it was their final swim meet. Sowinski competed in the 200 butterfly preliminaries and finished in 1:59.67.
“They are two fine representatives for Penn State in and out of the pool, and now Ally can continue with what they showed her, and get some more folks to join her for this show next year,” said Murphy.
McHugh also earned honorable mention All-America honors Friday as she placed 14th in the 400 IM Friday evening. It was McHugh’s first NCAA finals appearance, and she finished in 4:06.86. Francis also competed in the preliminaries, finishing in 4:16.72.
McHugh also led Penn State in the 500 free Thursday in near-Penn State record time. She swam a personal-best of 4:40.73, just one-hundredth of a second shy of the school record of 4:40.72 set by Sowinski at the 2015 Big Ten Championships. The time placed her 20th, four places and less than a second shy of advancing to finals.
Francis followed McHugh with a season-best time of 4:42.56 to place 36th, while Sowinski finished in a season-best 4:44.92.