Redbirds Defeat UNI for Senior Night, 179-115
Jan. 28, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State swimming and diving team claimed a 179-115 victory over Northern Iowa Saturday in Horton Pool, for the Redbirds last meet before the Missouri Valley Conference Championships. The competition was also Senior Night for ISU, honoring nine swimmers and two divers.
Head coach Steve Paska believes the meet was a great opportunity to face off against a conference opponent, as well as swim in their home environment.
"After the senior ceremonies at the beginning of the meet, there was definitely a lot of energy and emotion in Horton Pool," Paska said. "I believe that elevated a little bit of the performance early in the meet for us. The first third of the competition gave us a lot of fabulous races, and I know every one of the student-athletes really cherished their last dual meet in Horton Pool."
Senior Jessica McGee led the way in scoring for ISU, earning a first-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:07.76). The Bourbonnais, Ill., native also anchored the 200-yard medley relay that earned another first-place finish (1:49.51).
Freshman Cecilia Holmes finished first in the 200-yard freestyle (1:56.17), going on to earn personal-best performances in both the 200-yard breaststroke (2:27.76) and the 200-yard IM (2:10.65).
"Cecilia is just a solid competitor," Paska said. "She had an excellent 100-yard freestyle split for the 400-yard freestyle relay, which was after only about three minutes of rest after her IM race. She is a freshman, but she is definitely not swimming like one."
Other notable performances put the Redbirds in the right place for their victory, including a first place finish in the 100-yard backstroke from sophomore Erica Halley (1:00.97). Junior Tori Alland also put up points for the team with a first-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle (53.80), while freshman Samantha Schuckles took a first-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke (2:10.20).
The Redbirds continued with more first-place performances, which included freshman Katherine Nelson winning the 50-yard freestyle (24.65), Sarah Rendek in the 200-yard butterfly (2:12.15) and sophomore April Livingston in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:26.72).
The Redbird divers also had a fantastic meet, adding to the 179-115 victory over the conference foe, with senior Brittany Tazzioli earning a first-place finish on the 1-meter board (282.82), as well as accomplishing a zone meet qualifying score on the 3-meter board with a 280.65. Fellow senior captain Polly Hirt earned a fourth-place finish on the 1-meter board with a 229.71, and a score of 241.12 on the 3-meter board.
"Brittany and Polly both had fantastic performances to end their dual meet career in Horton Pool," head diving coach Phil Hoffmann said. "We still have a couple weeks before MVC championships, but I am overall impressed with the whole group. We are in a very good place going into the conference meet."
Newest member to the diving team, Wenting Zhang, came up right behind Tazzioli on the 1-meter board, scoring a 281.02 to place second. Zhang also competed on the 3-meter board, boasting a score of 295.50.
"Whenever you add a new member to the family, the dynamic definitely changes," Hoffmann said. "I think our team has definitely bonded more, and it is really showing in our training and the way we perform."
The Redbirds will have two weekends off before traveling to Carbondale to compete at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships Feb. 16-18.
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