- 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
A Norovirus scare threatened to delay the meet, but the show will go on as scheduled in Ann Arbor as the 2016 Women’s Big Ten Championships kick off tonight with a pair of relay races.
One major note: though it won’t come into play yet tonight, the Big Ten has changed its scoring format this season to score down to 24th place instead of 16th. The relays, though, will only score through 13th place as each school gets just one entry.
Wisconsin is the defending conference champ in the 200 medley relay as well as the Big Ten leader this season. But Michigan wasn’t far behind last year and returns all four legs.
In the 800 free relay, Indiana set the conference record last season with three of four legs returning, but runner-up Michigan’s team was made up of three freshmen and a sophomore. Penn State actually has the fastest time in the conference this season.
200 Medley Relay – Timed Finals
- Indiana – 1:35.73
- Minnesota – 1:37.37
- Ohio State – 1:37.54
Indiana started the meet off with some fireworks, roaring to a conference title and nearly a conference record in the 200 medley relay. Led by a blazing 25.92 split from breaststroker Lilly King, the Hoosiers went 1:35.73 for a new pool record, coming within .02 seconds of Wisconsin’s Big Ten record from 2011.
That time for the freshman King would have been the fastest breaststroke split in the nation last year, and it blew out the Big Ten field by eight tenths of a second.
Also quick for the Hoosiers was backstroker Marie Chamberlain, who led the field with a 24.39. Gia Dalesandro was 23.25 on the fly leg, with Grace Vertigans anchoring in 22.17 as Indiana went basically unchallenged after breaststroke.
Defending Big Ten team champs Minnesota took second, riding youth on the opening three legs. Interestingly enough, this event was a departure from tradition for Indiana and Minnesota – typically, the Hoosiers have dominated the conference’s backstroke ranks and the Golden Gophers have had the Big Ten’s best breaststrokers. But this year, Minnesota freshman Zoe Avestruz had one of the field’s better backstroke splits at 24.77, but Indiana won the race on the breaststroke leg.
Though King was impossible to touch, Gopher freshman Rachel Munson had the third-best breaststroke split at 27.12, and sophomore Danielle Nack blasted a 22.95 for the field’s second-best fly split. Senior Lauren Votava was 22.4 on the anchor as Minnesota went 1:37.37.
The Gophers held off a charging Ohio State – the Buckeyes got a 21.9 anchor leg from Annie Jongekrijg a field-best 22.6 on butterfly from Zhesi Li. It wasn’t quite enough to overcome a front-half that saw OSU sitting behind 6 other teams at the 100 split. Ohio State finished in 1:37.54.
Michigan pushed Indiana on the leadoff leg with a 24.4 from Clara Smiddy, but faded to fourth overall in 1:37.89. Madeline Frost was a quick 22.1 on the anchor leg. Also of note: defending champs Wisconsin did get the best freestyle split from Chase Kinney (21.8) but finished just 5th in 1:38.19.
800 Free Relay – Timed Finals
- Michigan – 6:58.54 (Big Ten record)
- Indiana – 7:00.83
- Purdue – 7:05.05
Michigan broke through with the meet’s first conference record, winning the 800 free relay in front of a home crowd in 6:58.54.
That broke the 6:59.10 record Indiana set last year. Michigan got a big-league split of 1:42.43 from freshman Siobhan Haughey to power the relay. Michigan’s success was especially impressive considering the youth on the team: Freshman Yirong Bi led off in 1:46.08, and sophomores Gabby DeLoof (1:45.81) and Gillian Ryan (1:44.22) put the relay on ice late.
Indiana led on a 1:44.14 opening split from Haley Lips, and Penn State and Purude sat ahead of Michigan at that point. IU’s Kennedy Goss, the hero of this relay last year, split 1:43.62 on the second leg – good enough to hold off Haughey, but a half-second slower than she was a year ago. Grace Vertigans went 1:45.95 and Delaney Barnard anchored in 1:47.12, but couldn’t keep the surging Ryan at bay. IU would take second in 7:00.83 with both Michigan and Indiana under the old pool record.
Purdue wound up third in 7:05.05, highlighted by the 1:45.08 leadoff of Alexa Davis and the 1:44.91 anchor leg from Kaersten Meitz. Penn State was just behind in 7:05.67, with multi-time Big Ten 200 free champ Alyson Ackman leading off in a big 1:44.70.
After day 1, it’s Indiana and Michigan battling for the points lead after winning a relay apiece. Things are pretty tight below them, with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota all within 10 points of one another.
Purdue was dealth the biggest blow on day 1, false starting on their 200 medley relay and losing out on 46 points. They’re currently 12th with only the points from their 800 free relay.
- Indiana – 120
- Michigan – 116
- Penn State – 100
- Ohio State – 100
- Wisconsin – 98
- Minnesota 90
- Northwestern – 80
- Nebraska – 80
- Iowa – 78
- Illinois – 76
- Rutgers – 74
- Michigan State – 62
- Purdue – 54