Women¡¯s Swimming & Diving in Fourth Place After First Day of Big Ten Championships
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; February 8, 2007 - Jessica Barnes finished fourth in the 500 freestyle and Kaitlin O¡¯Brien also placed fourth in the 200 IM to lead the large contingent of Penn State swimmers picking up points on the first night of finals at the Big Ten Women¡¯s Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by the University of Minnesota. Penn State sits in fourth place with 144.5 points. The Nittany Lions trail host and third place Minnesota by just 5.5 points. Michigan leads the meet through the first six events with 215 points while Indiana sits in second with 188.5. Wisconsin is in fifth with 118.5 points.
Barnes led the way for the five Penn State swimmers that advanced to the 500 free finals. She knocked over a second off her preliminary time to finish in 4:47.06. Just behind her by a mere .04 of a second was Claire Hawley in fifth place in 4:47.10. In the ¡®B¡¯ final, Nikki Collins and Kailey Morris led the way, finishing ninth and tenth, respectively. Collins improved from her prelim time by nearly four seconds, finishing in the fastest time of any Nittany Lion in the finals in 4:45.55, just .09 of a second off an ¡®A¡¯ time and the fastest time of her career, while Morris also improved her time to 4:49.76, about two and a half seconds better. Sarah Baker rounded out the 500 free quintet in 14th place at 4:52.14.
In the 200 IM, O¡¯Brien also finished fourth in nearly the same time as the prelims, just .02 of a second slower at 2:01.37. Karie Haglund placed seventh in 2:02.44. In the ¡®B¡¯ final, Kelly Nelson finished 11th in 2:02.55 and Daphne Skelos was just behind her in 2:02.56 as both swimmers¡¯ times were nearly identical to their prelim times. Megan Palera tied for 14th place in 2:03.49.
In the other individual swimming event final of the night, Michelle Myers finished 15th in the 50 free with a time of :23.36, once again nearly identical to her prelim time.
The Nittany Lions also put up a respectable showing in both relay finals that were contested on Thursday. The 400 medley relay team of Myers, Haglund, Nelson and Molly Crispell knocked .26 of a second off their previous NCAA ¡®B¡¯ standard cut and finished fourth in 3:43.38 to pick up 30 points. The 200 free relay team improved on its finish from last year¡¯s Big Ten when it finished 11th as this year the Lions placed seventh as the team of Genie Cheng, Myers, Lindsey DeForrest and Crispell finished in 1:33.08, good for a ¡®B¡¯ cut and the first of the year for Penn State in the 200 free relay. On the leadoff led of the 400 medley relay, Myers swam her fastest time of the year in the 100 backstroke and lowered her previous ¡®B¡¯ cut.
In the diving event of the day, Kimberlee Peifer led the way for Penn State with a score of 235.20, which was 17th and just one spot out of the scoring. She missed 16th place and the additional point that would have come with it by just 2.60 points. Courtney Adlam scored a 201.55.
After the first day of Big Ten¡¯s, Penn State now has 38 total NCAA swimming cuts. The Nittany Lions picked up eight new ¡®B¡¯ times and lowered several others but did not pick up any more ¡®A¡¯ cuts on the first day. They now have 35 ¡®B¡¯ cuts and three ¡®A¡¯ cuts. Penn State now has at least one NCAA cut, either an ¡®A¡¯ or a ¡®B¡¯ in all but three swimming events. Both Adlam and Peifer also have earned NCAA Zone qualifying scores.
The Nittany Lions were in a similar position after seven events last year, as they were also in fourth place and trailed the same three schools as they do this year after six events but still went on to win their second straight championship.
Action will get underway tomorrow at noon eastern time.A total of eight events will be contested. Among Penn State¡¯s strong events being contested tomorrow are the 400 IM, which O¡¯Brien is the defending Big Ten champion in, as well as the 100 butterfly and 800 freestyle relay.