O¡¯Brien and Smith Win Individual Event Titles, Nittany Lions in Second Place After Two Days at Big Ten Championships
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; February 9, 2007 - Catapulted by two first place finishes in two events, Penn State leaped ahead of two schools on day two of the Big Ten Women¡¯s Swimming and Diving Championships and now sits in second place after two days and 14 events. The Nittany Lions moved ahead of both Michigan and host Minnesota and now trail only first place Indiana heading into the final day of the championships. Penn State has 387.5 points, which narrowly leads Michigan¡¯s 378 but extends over Minnesota¡¯s 307 by a wide margin. Penn State trails the Hoosiers, who have 453.5 points. Kaitlin O¡¯Brien and Lyndsey Smith picked up the first two first place finishes of the championships for Penn State, O¡¯Brien in the 400 IM and Smith in the 100 breaststroke.
O¡¯Brien successfully defended the 400 IM title that she won last year as a freshman, winning this year in 4:14.60, slower than her winning time of a year ago but still over a second ahead of the second place finisher. Megan Palera finished fourth, knocking nearly half a second off her prelim time and Karie Haglund was just behind Palera in fifth place in 4:18.46, just .42 of a second behind. In the ¡®B¡¯ final, Claire Hawley finished 12th in over a second faster than the prelims in 4:19.45 and Kailey Morris placed 13th in 4:20.49 to give Penn State a total of 47 points picked up in that event, more than any other school.
Kelly Nelson led the way for the Nittany Lions in the 200 freestyle as she placed third in 1:48.67. Jessica Barnes logged her second top eight finish of the championships with a sixth place showing in 1:49.10. The ¡®B¡¯ final was also impressive as three Nittany Lions picked up points, led by Nikki Collins in 11th place in 1:49.07. Molly Crispell placed 13th in 1:49.72 while Sarah Baker came in 14th in 1:50.11. The Nittany Lions picked up a total of 42 points in t he 200 free.
Smith became the second individual Big Ten champion for the Nittany Lions with her swim in the 100 breast. She knocked over a second off her prelim time to win in 1:01.87. Caitlin Meehan, who finished seventh in the 100 breast at Big Ten¡¯s a year ago, improved on her finish and also on her prelim time by swimming it in 1:02.97 to finish third. Abby Hoisington led the way in the ¡®B¡¯ final as she won that heat to finish ninth in her best time of the year of 1:03.27, an NCAA ¡®B¡¯ time. The 45 points earned in the 100 breast by just three individuals was by far the most points earned for any school in that event.
The Nittany Lions also had four individuals score in the finals of the 100 back, led by Michelle Myers in fifth place in :55.23. Daphne Skelos finished 10th to lead Penn State in the ¡®B¡¯ final in :55.47 and Erin Morris also improved her prelim time and finished 12th in and NCAA ¡®B¡¯ cut :56.05, the first new cut of the evening session for Penn State. Kaitlyn Ferguson rounded out the quartet in 14th place in :56.51.
Penn State made a big gain in the first event of the night as the 200 medley relay team of Myers, Haglund, Nelson and Genie Cheng placed third in an NCAA ¡®B¡¯ time of 1:41.86, the first NCAA cut of the year in that event for the Lions, which now gives them an NCAA cut in every relay event. More importantly, however, was that both Michigan and Minnesota, two teams that the Nittany Lions trailed in the standings entering the evening, were disqualified.
The Nittany Lions also placed third in the other relay event of the night, the 800 free relay, which was also the last event of the night. The team of Collins, Crispell, Barnes and Nelson swam a season-best time of 7:15.72 to pick up 32 crucial points.
Kimberlee Peifer became the first Penn State diver to score at the meet as she placed 12th in the three-meter springboard with her second-highest score of the year of 273.55. Courtney Adlam finished 24th with a score of 240.70.
Penn State has now made 19 new NCAA ¡®B¡¯ cuts over the first two days of the Big Ten Championships. Overall, they now have 48 NCAA times, three ¡®A¡¯ cuts and 45 ¡®B¡¯ cuts.
The Nittany Lions will need to make up nearly 65 points tomorrow if they are to win their third straight Big Ten title. However, some of the Penn State¡¯s strongest events will be held tomorrow, including the 1650 free, 200 fly and 200 back. Actions gets underway tomorrow with noon prelims and the 8:00 p.m. eastern time finals.
Quotes from Penn State¡¯s two individual Big Ten champions
400 Yard IM champion Kaitlin, O¡¯Brien, Penn State
On being a two-time Big Ten champion:
On maintaining a lead from prelims to finals:
100-Yard Breaststroke champion Lyndsey Smith, Penn State
On finishing in first in her first Big Ten event finals:
On her goals coming into the event: