Redbirds Break MVC Record to Hold 2nd Place Standing
Feb. 17, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Illinois State swimming and diving team holds onto second-place with 459 points, following day-two of Missouri Valley Conference Championship competition, after a back-and-forth battle for the number-two spot with Southern Illinois. The `birds edged out SIU in the last event of the evening, where they broke the MVC record in the 800-yard freestyle relay.
The 800-yard freestyle relay team, made up of Danielle Schumacher, Tori Alland, Valerie Jones and Cecilia Holmes, posted a time of 7:30.10, to also beat out Missouri State, who set the previous record at the 2011 championships. The performance is also an ISU school-record.
"We jumped out to an early lead in the relay," head coach Steve Paska said. "Tori had a fantastic second-leg which was able to extend that lead. By the last yards Cecilia was stroke-for-stroke with Missouri State, so it was an incredible win for us. It was a very exciting race to watch."
The Redbirds are currently ahead of Southern Illinois (450), Evansville (304) and Northern Iowa (203), falling only to Missouri State, who still holds the lead with 635 points.
Also coming off a conference victory in the 500-yard freestyle Thursday night, junior Danielle Schumacher kept her momentum going with a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, (1:50.29), recording a new ISU school record, as well as a personal-best time. Schumacher edged out SIU's Pamela Benitez by one-hundredth of a second.
"Danielle had a fabulous 200-yard freestyle race," Paska said. "She has been swimming very strong at the meet so far, and I am looking forward to watching her compete tomorrow in the 1650-yard freestyle."
Tori Alland, another junior, earned a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle, recording a personal-best time (1:51.50). Alland is coming off a fifth-place finish, as well as a personal-best time, in the 500-yard freestyle in Thursday's finals. Another notable performance in the event came from freshman Katherine Nelson, who knocked two-seconds off her seed time at the finals and recorded a personal-best time, (1:57.20), to place 12th.
Freshman Cecilia Holmes broke the school record in the 400-yard IM, earning a personal-best time in the prelims (4:29.77), only to come back in the finals and break it once more (4:26.45). Senior Amber Siggins recorded a personal best time in the event (4:35.36), to place 11th.
"Cecilia breaking the school record at a championship meet is incredible," Paska said. "She had an amazing swim, having to come up from seventh-place to third-place after the backstroke-leg. She then went on to be a member of the record-breaking 800-freestyle relay team, so it was a very exciting night for her."
The 100-yard butterfly gave junior Sarah Rendek a fourth-place finish in the finals (56.62), and a season-best swim, which was just tenths above her personal-best time in the event. Rendek, who won the 100-yard butterfly in the 2011 MVC championships, also holds the ISU school-record in the event. Fellow junior teammate Jeanette Nolte came up behind Rendek, with a time of 57.69, to place seventh.
Three `birds advanced to the top-eight final in the 100-yard breaststroke, where sophomore April Livingston pulled ahead, finishing fourth, with a personal-best time (1:05.02). Junior Arica Woolbright also had a personal best time of 1:05.93, to place sixth. Morgan Buechele rounded out the top-eight, also just past her previous personal-best time in the event in prelims (1:06.51).
Going into the sixth event of the finals, the Redbirds had fallen to third-place, a mere 12 points behind SIU. Freshman Samantha Schuckles pulled out a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke (57.83), with teammate Erica Halley behind her in eighth-place (58.89) scoring points for ISU, to regain the second-place lead over Southern by one point.
The Redbirds ended the night of competition with the 800-yard freestyle relay, to place first, giving them a MVC record-breaking time as well as a nine-point advantage over SIU going into the last day of competition.
"Overall, it was a fantastic second day for us at the Valley Championships," Paska said. "There were a lot of broken school records, MVC records, personal-best, and season-best performances. We still have one more day to finish as high as we can, and tomorrow is going to be a very close, very competitive last day."
In diving, sophomore newcomer Wenting Zhang took the crown on the three-meter preliminary round (291.80), breaking the MVC conference record. Zhang is coming off a conference title on the one-meter board Thursday night (266.20). Maureen Doyle and Polly Hirt also finished in the top-eight to advance to finals, with Doyle in seventh-place (213.30) and Hirt in eighth (212.20).
Finals for three-meter diving are scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Redbirds now gear up to finish their season in the last day of the Missouri Valley Conference Championships Saturday, with preliminary races beginning at 10 a.m. and finals scheduled for 4 p.m.
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