Redbirds Finish 2nd, Breaking Fifteen School Records
Wenting Zhang
Wenting Zhang

Feb. 16, 2013

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CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Illinois State swimming and diving team earned the second-place title at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championships Saturday, after three days of competition. The Redbirds broke a total of 15 school records.

Illinois State earned 776 points leading Southern Illinois (721), Evansville (450) and Northern Iowa (294), falling only to Missouri State (897).

"It was a joy to witness the Redbirds play a huge roll in this championship," head coach Steve Paska said. "Every team competed to the best of their ability. It was a thrilling Valley meet and it is one that will have a lasting impression in my memory as the ISU swimming coach."

Sophomore diver Wenting Zhang took second-place on the 3-meter board with a score of 349.30, which set a new Shea Natatorium record. Zhang also earned the conference title on the 1-meter board on Thursday with a score of 324.75, which broke the Shea Natatorium and MVC record. After Zhang's performance at the MVC Championships and during the 2012-13 season she was named 2013 MVC Diver of the Year.

"Wenting had a fantastic sophomore season. I am very proud of the way she competed," diving coach Phil Hoffmann said. "She made us all proud, and she competed strong in one of the best diving contests we have ever seen. All the finalist were fantastic, and it was a great event. I am so proud of her first and second-place finishes."

Hoffmann was also awarded the 2012-13 MVC Diving Coach of the Year Honor, after coaching the Redbirds through a successful 2012-13 season.

Seniors Maureen Doyle (238.15) and Madicyn Prouty (234.10) also put up points for the Redbirds finishing in 10th and 12th place on the 3-meter board

In swimming, Illinois State finished in first-place during the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:25.15, which broke the school record. The event was swam by senior Jeanette Nolte, sophomore Marissa Yontz, senior Danielle Schumacher and junior Erica Halley.

"This was a fantastic race for the Redbirds to finish the meet," Paska said. They broke the record that was they set last year and it was a great end to the tournament. All the swimmers had outstanding sprints."

Nolte led off the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 51.33, which is a new personal best for the swimmer.

"Jeanette broke four school records in the 50 breast, the 100 fly, the 200 fly and 200 IM. In addition, she swam on four school record setting relays this weekend," Paska said. "Also, every swim she had this weekend was a new personal best time. This was a weekend of swimming highlights for Jeanette and it has been a joy to watch her compete and race. She had a fabulous last weekend of competition as a Redbird."

During the 1650-yard freestyle sophomore Valerie Jones earned fourth-place with a time of 17:08.67, which was a personal best. Senior Tori Alland finished with a season best time of 17:11.05 earning fifth.

"Tori swam this event with flying colors," Paska said. "It was a phenomenal event for her since she has had shoulder surgery. She understood what she had to do and it was a fantastic way to end her career at a Redbird."

Sophomore Cecilia Holmes finished behind Alland in sixth-place with a personal best time of 17:19.23. Seniors Emily Susmarski (17:41.16) and Kelly Healy (17:44.44) both earned personal bests times. Susmarksi finished in eighth and Healy in ninth.

In the 200-yard backstroke Halley finished in seventh-place with a time of 2:04.56, which was a personal best time. She was followed by sophomore Samantha Schuckles (2:06.24) in 12th with a season best time and freshman Katelyn Kresal (2:06.77) in 13th with a personal best time. Freshman Tara Gidaszewski (2:08.25) and senior Brianna Winkler (2:10.70) both earned season best times.

During the 100-yard freestyle Yontz and Schumacher led the way for the `birds. Yontz finished in third-place with a time of 51.31 and Schumacher in fourth with a time of 51.35, which was a personal best. During the preliminary round Yontz time of 51.22 set a new school record. Sophomore Katherine Nelson finished with a time of 52.28 to take sixth-place. Sophomore Kristin Horney earned a personal best time of 53.73.

Junior April Livingston (2:21.15) and senior Arica Woolbright (2:21.92) took the fifth and sixth-place spot during the 200-yard breaststroke. Livingston broke her own school record in the event. Finishing in 10th place was senior Morgan Buechele with a time of 2:21.57. Woolbright's and Buechele's times where both personal best swims.

Nolte touched the wall second during the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:00.85, which broke the ISU record. Senior Sarah Rendek took ninth with a time of 2:06.52, which was a season best swim. Following Rendek in 12th place was sophomore Alexis Nash who swam a time of 2:12.10. During the preliminary round, Nash swam a personal best time of 2:11.78. Freshman Justine Kaszynski (2:11.49) and sophomore Emily Langlotz (2:17.36) both had personal best swims during the preliminary round.

During the 400-yard freestyle B relay freshman Courtney Taylor swam a personal best time of 53.55.

Eight members of the ISU swimming and diving program were named to the 2013 First-Team-All-Conference. Student-athletes who finish in first, second or third-place during individual events or are part of a first-place relay team are given the honor. The honors included Tori Alland, Cecilia Holmes, Erica Halley, Jeanette Nolte, Danielle Schumacher, Courtney Taylor, Marissa Yontz and Wenting Zhang.

Nine student-athletes were named Honorable Mention All-Conference. The honor is given to student-athletes who finish in third through eighth-place or finish in second during a relay event. The honors include Morgan Buechele, Valerie Jones, Alexis Nash, Katherine Nelson, April Livingston, Samantha Schuckles, Emily Susmarski, Arica Woolbright and Marissa Yontz.

Today's events was the last time 11 senior student-athletes will compete as Redbirds. Paska believes that this group of seniors have left their mark on the swimming and diving program.

"The senior swimmers played a vital role in our second place finish this weekend at the valley championship they contributed to a number of school records, personal best and season best times," Paska said. "It has been a true joy to coach these student-athletes, and they will be missed."

The Redbirds end their 2012-13 season in second place at the MVC Championships. Zhang will extend her season for one last meet at the NCAA Diving Regional March 14-16 in West Lafayette, Ind.

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