Fifteen Nittany Lions Advance to Tonight's Finals on Day Two of Big Ten Championships
Feb. 22, 2008
Columbus, Ohio - A total of 15 Penn State swimmers advanced to tonight's finals in five different events as the times continued to be very fast in the morning preliminary session on Friday. Penn State's two defending Big Ten individual champions, Kaitlin O'Brien and Lyndsey Smith, will have an opportunity to defend their titles as both advanced to the `A' finals of the 400 IM and 100 breaststroke, respectively.
O'Brien led a group of five swimmers that will swim in the finals of the 400 IM. The two-time defending champion in the 400 IM finished fourth in the prelims with another NCAA `A' time of 4:14.29, nearly six seconds off her fastest time of the year. O'Brien has now swam an NCAA `A' time in all four of her swims in the 400 IM this year. Finishing just behind O'Brien in fifth place was Daphne Skelos in 4:14.55, her first `A' time of the year in the 400 IM. Skelos already automatically qualified for NCAA's yesterday by swimming an `A' time in the 200 IM. Clare Clemens will also swim in the `A' finals after finishing eighth in 4:17.13 and knocking nearly four seconds off her previous NCAA `B' cut. Kailey Morris and Karie Haglund will each swim in the `B' finals of the 400 IM after Morris placed 11th in 4:20.92, her first `B' cut of the year in the 400 IM, and Haglund finished 14th. The five Nittany Lion swimmers swimming in the 400 IM finals is a high for any team, as the next highest number is three by Michigan.
In the 200 free, Kelly Nelson swam to a new pool record at Ohio State in finishing first in the prelims with a time of 1:46.38. That swim also broke her own two-year-old school record of 1:47.30 and it is her third NCAA `A' time of the year. She will be the only Nittany Lion in the `A' finals, but three more Lions will swim in the `B' finals, led by Sarah Baker, who placed 12th in 1:49.43, and Molly Crispell, who finished just behind Baker by .02 of a second in 1:49.45. Both of those times are new NCAA `B' cuts. Stephanie Roop will also swim in the `B' finals after finishing 15th. Penn State's four finalists in the 200 free will be second behind Minnesota's five.
All three Penn State swimmers that entered the 100 breast will swim in the finals as well, led by defending Big Ten champion Lyndsey Smith, who just squeezed into the finals by finishing eighth in 1:02.87, nearly two full seconds better than her previous best time this year, just .08 of a second in front of the ninth place finisher, and exactly one second off her winning time of 1:01.87 last year. She may need to go faster than that to successfully defend her title, however, as the winning prelim time was 1:00.26. Smith's time was also her first NCAA `B' cut of the year. Swimming in the `B' final with be both Abby Hoisington, who finished 10th, and Caitlin Meehan, who placed 14th.
Both Michelle Myers and Kaitlyn Ferguson will swim in the finals of the 100 backstroke. Myers took sixth in the prelims to qualify for the `A' finals while Ferguson took 14th and will swim in the `B' finals. While both swam `B' times, neither swam their fastest times of the year in prelims, however.
The Nittany Lions will also likely score in an event that they did not score in last year as Ferguson also qualified finished 14th in the 100 butterfly prelims.
The preliminaries of the three-meter springboard diving are ongoing this afternoon. Tonight's finals will get underway at 6:30 p.m. with the Nittany Lions in third place with 145 points. They trail second place Minnesota by 32.5 points and first place Michigan by 37 entering tonight's finals. Live results of all the action can be followed here.