2016 Women’s Big Ten Championship: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap

by Retta Race 1

February 20th, 2016 Big Ten, College, News, Previews & Recaps

2016 WOMEN’S BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • When: Wednesday, February 17th to Saturday, February 20th | Prelims 11am | Finals 6:30pm
  • Where: Canham Natatorium, Ann Arbor, MI (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Defending Champion: Minnesota Gophers (4x) (results)
  • Meet Preview
  • Live Results
  • Streaming: Big Ten Network ($)
  • Championship Central: here

It all comes down to this, the final day of the 2016 Women’s Big Ten Championships. Just 45.5 points separates the top two teams through last night’s finals, with the Michigan Wolverines on top carrying 891 points to Indiana’s 845.5. It’s truly a race between two teams, as Minnesota sits well behind in 3rd with 612.5 points, but then again, they are the defending Big Ten conference champions.

Top 5 Team Scores Through Day 3:

  1. Michigan, 891
  2. Indiana, 845.5
  3. Minnesota, 612.5
  4. Ohio State, 577
  5. Purdue, 498.5

Each squad has their prime time players in action today, with several swimmers trying to add to titles already won earlier in the meet. Michigan’s Clara Smiddy will try to double up on her 100 backstroke Big Ten title with the 200 backstroke today, while fending off Indiana’s Kennedy Goss and Marie Chamberlain.

Another Wolverine, Siobhan Haughey, will be going after her 3rd Big Ten title of these championships, this time in the 100 freestyle. She’s already taken wins in the 200 IM and 200 freestyle…as a freshman. But, Ohio State’s Liz Li will also be in the mix in that women’s 100 freestyle, trying to score another win after a pool record-breaking 50 freestyle victory on night 1.

Then there’s Hoosier Lilly King, who blew away the field last night with a shiny new conference record of 57.35 in the 100 breaststroke, just shy of the American and NCAA record.  King enters today’s 200 breaststroke event as the #2 seed behind Purdue’s Emily Fogle.

200 BACKSTROKE – PRELIMS

The Michigan Wolverines set the stage early, qualifying two swimmers for tonight’s 200 backstroke A-Final. Sophomore Clara Smiddy leads the pack with a mark of 1:52.11, her fastest of the season. Just shy of the 1:51.95 A cut, Smiddy’s time this morning would’ve cleared 3rd place at last year’s Big Ten Championships, a final in which Smiddy actually placed 2nd with a time of 1:51.76.

Just under a second behind Smiddy is Indiana’s Kennedy Goss, hacking major time off her 1:55.22 seed to score a mark of 1:52.95 today. Both Smiddy and Goss now rank in the top 5 of the NCAA headed into tonight’s final and are also in a separate tier from the rest of this morning’s field.  Coming in as the 3rd seed is another Wolverine, Gabby DeLoof, in a time of 1:54.89, fresh off her 200 free/100 back double from last night.

Indiana has a 2nd swimmer in Marie Chamberlain, who is lurking as the 6th-fastest swimmer of the morning. Chamberlain earned a bronze in last night’s 100 backstroke and will no doubt be gunning to give the Hoosiers every point she can with the team competition so close with Michigan.

1:54.66 was last year’s invited time, so just the top 2 athletes dipped beneath that so far today.

Top 8:

  1. Clara Smiddy, Michigan – 1:52.11
  2. Kennedy Goss, Indiana – 1:52.95
  3. Gabby DeLoof, Michigan – 1:54.89
  4. Halime Zulal Zeren, Ohio State – 1:54.99
  5. Jessica Unicomb, Wisconsin – 1:55.21
  6. Marie Chamberlain, Indiana – 1:55.48
  7. Vera Koprivova, Rutgers – 1:56.12
  8. Melissa Postoll, Northwestern – 1:56.41

100 FREESTYLE – PRELIMS

Michigan goes 2-for-2 in terms of top seeds this morning, as senior Ali DeLoof ties the Canham Natatorium pool record of 48.08 for the top spot in the women’s 100 freestyle. For DeLoof, the time marks her personal best by .25 of a second, surpassing her previous fastest mark of 48.32 from last year’s Big Ten Championships.

DeLoof was the only swimmer out in a sub-11 split, turning at 10.99 for an opening 50 of 22.99, bringing it home in 25.09. The next closest competitor was Ohio State sprinter and two-time title winner already at this meet, Liz Li. Li didn’t take her race out quite as fast, pacing an opening 50 of 23.30 and a back half split of 25.09. Having already won the 100 fly and 50 freestyle events, however, Li has proven she has got the raw speed to throw done something special in this event.

Freshman superstar Siobhan Haughey may have something to say about a Buckeye taking charge, however, as the 200 IM and 200 freestyle title winner was right behind Li with a morning swim of 48.57. Her personal best sits at a 48.45, but the dynamic athlete has simply been on fire this meet and could be saving up some speed to help push DeLoof to a Wolverine 1-2 finish tonight.

In the ever-tight battle between the Hoosiers and the Wolverines, IU puts just one swimmer in the A-Final, laying potential title-winning hopes on the back of sophomore Holly Spears. Spears rocked a best time this morning, marking just the 2nd time the Hoosier has dipped beneath the 50-second threshold.

Last year’s invite time was 48.89, so 6 out of tonight’s 8 finalists would have been at NCAA’s last year.

Top 8:

  1. Ali DeLoof, Michigan – 48.08
  2. Liz Li, Ohio State – 48.38
  3. Siobhan Haughey, Michigan – 48.57
  4. Chase Kinney, Wisconsin – 48.59
  5. Alyson Ackman, Penn State – 48.70
  6. Lauren Votava, Minnesota – 48.81
  7. Holly Spears, Indiana – 49.19
  8. Annika Winsnes, Northwest – 49.41

200 BREASTSTROKE – PRELIMS

And Indiana strikes back in a big way, locking in two title-contending swimmers in the A-Final of the 200 breaststroke. Freshman Miranda Tucker continues to impress, laying down a shiny new pool record with a morning swim of 2:07.63, a new personal best and Indiana program record. The previous pool record was held by Ashley Wanland of Wisconsin in the 2:08.14 she set way back in 2009.

2:12.54 was Tucker’s fastest SCY swim in the event coming into this meet, although she did throw down times at 2015 Winter Nationals that convert to 2:09.71 and 2:10.32. Her mark today of 2:07.63 is just a hair of the NCAA A cut of 2:07.42.

Over a second behind, but still in the hunt is Purdue senior Emily Fogle, who stopped the clock at 2:08.94 right next to Tucker in heat 8 of 8. Fogle took the race out on pace with Tucker, but fell back on the 2nd half, settling for 3rd and 4th 50 splits of 33.62 and 33.95, respectively. Fogle’s personal best coming into the meet is a 2:07.30 from earlier this year, so look for her to slash some time when it counts tonight.

Last night’s new conference record holder and champion in the 100 breaststroke, Lilly King, is the other Hoosier ready to make waves tonight, scoring the 3rd seed in 2:09.64.

With last year’s conference champion, Kierra Smith, red-shirting this year, the top of the podium is wide open for any of the young stars or veteran swimmers of the field. Last year’s runner-up time behind Smith’s stunning 2:05.69 was Michigan’s Emily Kopas‘ 2:09.53, a mark which both Tucker and Fogle have already exceeded with their morning swims.

Kopas may come back for the title tonight, though, holding steady as the 4th seed in 2:10.03. She’s joined by Wolverine teammate Carolyn McCann who dropped an unearthly amount of time to make the final, hacking over 6 seconds from her seed time of 2:18.31 to sneak into the final with 2:11.61.

With last year’s NCAA D1 Invite time at 2:11.23, it looks like the first 7 have a solid possibility of making this year’s meet.

Top 8:

  1. Miranda Tucker, Indiana – 2:07.63
  2. Emily Fogle, Purdue – 2:08.94
  3. Lilly King, Indiana – 2:09.64
  4. Emily Kopas, Michigan – 2:10.03
  5. Byanca Rodriguez, Penn State – 2:10.44
  6. Emma Sougstad, Iowa – 2:11.12
  7. Taylor Vargo, Ohio State – 2:11.23
  8. Carolyn McCann, Michigan – 2:11.61

200 BUTTERFLY – PRELIMS

Indiana claims another top seed tonight, as defending 200 fly champion Gia Dalesandro leads the pack with her morning mark of 1:56.13, her fastest this season. Last year Dalesandro won the event at Big Tens with a time of 1:55.10, but the junior holds the conference and meet record with the stellar 1:53.95 she set back in 2014 as a freshman. She’ll be the lone Hoosier in the A-Final tonight, but that’s one more than intense rival Michigan has, however, which will no doubt factor into the ever-close team point battle.

One team that does have two A-Finalists is Rutgers, who saw Francesca Stoppa and Morgan Pfaff nab the 6th and 7th seeds. Stoppa rocked a 1:58.13, the first sub-2-minute outing for the Italian. Teammate Pfaff snagged a time of 1:58.46, not far off her personal best of 1:58.02.

Last year’s 6th place finisher finds herself in the number two spot behind Dalesandro, as Badger Dana Grindall grinded out a 1:57.07, the 2nd-best time of her career.

1:56.97 was what it took to be invited to the 2015 NCAA Championships in this event, which is a time just Dalesandro slid underneath this morning.

Top 8:

  1. Gia Dalesandro, Indiana – 1:56.13
  2. Dana Grindall, Wisconsin – 1:57.07
  3. Katelyn Sowinski, Penn State – 1:57.57
  4. Emmy Rawson, Purdue – 1:57.81
  5. Danielle Nack, Minnesota – 1:57.84
  6. Francesca Stoppa, Rutgers – 1:58.13
  7. Morgan Pfaff, Rutgers – 1:58.46
  8. Kathryn Rowe, Penn State – 1:58.47

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DMSWIM

Stoppa was 1:58.26 at the New Hampshire dual meet. For some reason she wasn’t entered with her best times for Big 10s. Regardless, it was a strong prelims swim for her to make it into the top 8!

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