Redbirds Stand in 2ndPlace After First Day at MVC Championships
Feb. 16, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Illinois State swimming and diving team stands in second place with 225 points, after day-one of the Missouri Valley Conference Championships Thurs., night at Southern Illinois. The competition boasted personal-best, season-best and broken school records from the Redbird team, as well as first-place finishes from Danielle Schumacher, Katherine Nelson, and Wenting Zhang, to lead the way in scoring for the Redbirds.
ISU swam ahead of Southern Illinois (213), Evansville (130) and Northern Iowa (87) in the first round, falling only to Missouri State, who currently leads with 293 points.
"We are off to a big start, with a solid first day of competition," head coach Steve Paska said. "We have confidence that the next two days' events will showcase the quality depth this team has, and I believe our student-athletes are ready to rise to the challenge."
Junior Danielle Schumacher went on to win the conference title in the 500-yard freestyle finals with a time of 4:52.33, which also broke the ISU school-record in the event. Schumacher's first-place finish marked the second-fastest time in the championship's history. The victory for the Lemont, Ill., native came after taking more than five seconds off her seed-time in the preliminary race Thursday morning.
"Danielle swam a very smart race," Paska said. "She was controlled throughout, and to have that much energy in the last 200-yards made for an exciting race to watch. She comes to practice every day, works hard, and constantly challenges herself."
Fellow junior teammate Tori Alland finished fifth in the finals for the 500-yard freestyle (4:55.81), earning a personal-best swim as well as knocking two seconds off her preliminary time.
Paska was particularly impressed with Alland's finish, after the junior swam the entire season with a slap-tear in her left shoulder.
"Tori has shown a tremendous amount of passion for the sport, and has done everything she can to contribute to the team," Paska said. "It is amazing to see the pride she has in this team, and I am extremely proud of her performance tonight."
Katherine Nelson earned a first-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle finals, with a time of 24.09. The freshman swimmer swam a personal-best time in the prelims with a 23.89, as the only competitor to break 24-seconds. Junior Sarah Rendek also swam in the finals, finishing in seventh-place (24.38). Rendek broke the school-record in the 50-yard butterfly (25.71) during timed trials Thursday afternoon.
The Redbirds won all three finals for 50-yard freestyle event, with junior Jeanette Nolte and sophomore Erica Halley tying for first place in the B-final (24.13), and freshman Samantha Schuckles earning a first-place finish in the C-final (25.00).
Cecilia Holmes finished in second-place in the 200-yard IM B-final (2:08.04), earning the freshman a personal-best swim in the event. Junior Arica Woolbright also boasted a personal-best swim in the event, with a time of 2:10.80.
The swimming side for the first day of the competition ended with the 400-yard medley relay, where Shuckles, Rendek, and Nelson along with junior Morgan Buechele broke another ISU school record, to place fourth.
Other notable swims came from the 500-yard freestyle event, where Kelly Healy earned a personal-best performance (5:08.57), shattering her previous personal-best by over 13 seconds. Freshman Keely Hunt also swam a personal best in the event (5:08.80). Senior Erin Hayden earned a personal-best swim in the 50-yard freestyle (26.54).
Sophomore Wenting Zhang swept the one-meter board in the prelims, scoring a 287.60, which gave the China native a first-place finish by over 20-points. Senior Brittany Tazzioli and junior Maureen Doyle also scored in the top 8 in the preliminary round. Zhang went on to win the finals in the event, scoring a 266.20.
"Winning a conference championship title is a great achievement for Wenting, and I am very excited for her," head diving coach Phil Hoffmann said. "However, this whole day was a team effort. All six of our divers were able to score points for the team, which is a great accomplishment."
Tazzioli placed seventh in the finals (233.85), with teammate Doyle behind her in eight-place (218.65). Senior Polly Hirt scored points for the `birds, finishing first-place in the one-meter B-final (219.10).
The Redbirds will be back in the water tomorrow, with preliminary swimming events beginning at 11 a.m., and the finals scheduled for 6 p.m. Prelims for the three-meter diving board will begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow, with finals set for Saturday.
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