2020 Women’s B1G Fan Guide: Michigan a Favorite to Take Back Big Ten Title

by Spencer Penland 45

February 13th, 2020 Big Ten, College, News

2020 B1G WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • When: Wednesday, February 19th to Saturday, February 22nd | Prelims 11am | Finals 6:30pm (6pm Saturday)
  • Where: Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, Iowa City, Iowa (Central Time Zone)
  • Defending Champion: Indiana University Hoosiers (1x) (results)
  • Live Results
  • Streaming: Big Ten Network
  • Championship Central: here

SCHEDULE

Wednesday

200 Medley Relay
800 Free Relay

Thursday

200 Free Relay
500 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
50 Freestyle
1-Meter Diving

Friday

400 Medley Relay
400 Individual Medley
100 Butterfly
200 Freestyle
100 Breaststroke
100 Backstroke
3-Meter Diving

Saturday

1650 Freestyle
200 Backstroke
100 Freestyle
200 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
Platform Diving
400 Freestyle Relay

STARS

Illinois

Kristin Anderson (senior sprinter), Jimena Martinez (junior breaststoker/IM’er), Aby Olson (senior backstroker)

Kristin Anderson is projected to be Illinois’ highest scoring swimmer, currently ranked to make the B final in the 100 free. Jimena Martinez is in the top 24 in the 200 breast, and Aby Olson is top 24 in the 100 back. Additionally, sophomore Abby Cabush is just outside scoring range in the 100 free, and is not far off in the 200 free.

Indiana

Emily Weiss (freshman breaststroker), Noelle Peplowski (sophomore breaststroker), Cora Dupre (freshman sprinter), Mac Looze (sophomore IM’er), Josie Grote (junior IM’er/mid-distance freestyler), Cassy Jernberg (senior distance freestyler) — The Hoosiers have a pair of freshmen everyone should keep their eyes on. Emily Weiss came into the NCAA this season with a 100 breast personal best that puts her in the hunt for the Big ten title. Fellow freshman Cora Dupre has been stellar so far this season for the Hoosiers, having accumulated top 3 times in the 50, 100, and 200 free in the Big Ten this year. Noelle Peplowski is another breaststroker poised to be in both A finals, after finishing 6th in the 200 breast at NCAAs last year. Mac Looze and Josie Grote are both highly competitive in the 400 IM. The Hoosiers also have an excellent freestyle duo in Grote and Cassy Jernberg, who are among the top of the conference this year.

Iowa

Hannah Burvill (senior freestyler), Kelsey Drake (junior sprinter), Allyssa Fluit (senior freestyler), Emilia Sansome (freshman backstroker/IM’er/distance freestyler— Much of Iowa’s top-end talent is in their senior class, however, they have a solid freshman class that’s worth watching out for. Hannah Burvill was an A finalist in the 50 free and 200 free, as well as the winner of the B final in the 100 free last year. Kelsey Drake and Allyssa Fluit both picked up a B final and a C final last year, and have already been faster this year than last year. Freshman Emilia Sansome has proven to be a versatile talent, putting up competitve times in everything from backstroke to IM’s to distance free. Iowa’s relays also look to be in a better position than last year.

Michigan

Maggie MacNeil (sophomore sprinter), Vanessa Krause (senior butterflier), Olivia Carter (sophomore butterflier, Kaitlynn Sims (freshman distance freestyler), Chloe Hicks (senior freestyler), Miranda Tucker (senior breaststroker), Sierra Schmidt (junior distance freestyler) — Maggie MacNeil is about as close to a sure thing as you can get, in whatever 3 events she decides to choose. Miranda Tucker is one of the favorites to take the breaststroke titles now that Lilly King is gone. Recent transfer Olivia Carter and junior Vanessa Krause will make for a lethal combination in the 200 fly, while Kaitlynn Sims and Sierra Schmidt will be in the hunt in the distance events.

Michigan State

Erin Szara (junior breaststroker), Kasey Venn (freshman breaststroker/butterflier) Emma Inch (freshman freestyler/IM’er/butterflier) — Erin Szara is currently looking primed to score in the 100 breast, and is just outside scoring range in the 200 breast. Freshman Kasey Venn is in the opposite situation, looking to have an excellent shot at coring in the 200 breast, but outside scoring range in the 100. Fellow freshman Emma Inch has proven to be a very versatile swimmer for the Spartans. Her best shot to score seems to be in the 1650, but she could also make her way into the top 24 in the 200 fly or 400 IM.

Minnesota

Jordan McGinty (freshman freestyler), Tevyn Waddell (senior backstroker), Lindsey Kozelsky (senior breaststroker), Abbey Erwin (junior distance/IM) — This Gopher squad looks quite different than last year’s squad. Even so, Tevyn Waddell is a potential top 3 finisher in the 100 fly, 100 back, and 200 back. Lindsey Kozelsky is yet another swimmer who could capitalize greatly off the absence of Lilly King in the breaststroke events, Freshman Jordan McGinty looks like she could be top 16 in the 100 free, 200 free, and 200 IM. Abbey Erwin performed very well last year, and scored 33 points for the Golden Gophers. She enters Big tens this year with faster times than last season.

Nebraska

Autumn Haebig (junior freestyler/backstroker), Madison Coughlen (junior butterflier/IM’er), Gwen Worlton (senior breaststroker), Audrey Coffey (sophomore distance freestyler)— Haebig stands a solid chance of being Nebraska’s top scorer, having made the B final in the 100 and 200 free last year, as well as the C final in the 100 back. She is currently ranked 10th in the 500 free in the conference this season, and could end up swapping the 100 back for the 500 in order to spread her schedule out more. Madison Coughlen was a B finalist in the 200 fly last year, though she has already been significantly faster this year, and her season best this year would have easily made the A final last year. Gwen Worlton scored in the 200 breaststroke last year, and Audrey Coffey scored in the mile. Coffey’s season best in the mile this year would have put her in the top 16 last year.

Northwestern

Maddie Smith (junior sprinter), Calypso Sheridan (junior everything), Hannah Brunzell (freshman breaststroker), Sophie Angus (junior breaststroker), Ally Larson (freshman IM’er/Butterflier), Miriam Guevara (sophmore butterflier),  — Sheridan was an A finalist in the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 breast last year, with her top finish being 2nd in the 400 IM. She’s also the fastest returning swimmer in the 400 IM. Hannah Brunzell has proven to be an asset in her freshman, and first yards, campaign. She looks set to make the A final in both breaststroke events. Sophie Angus looks primed to score in breaststroke as well, having made the B final in the 100 and C final in the 200 last year. Freshman Ally Larson is currently 3rd in the conference in the 200 fly, and looks to be in B final range in the IM’s. Miriam Guevara is looking like an A final threat in the 100 fly, and is in B final range in the 200 fly and 100 back. Maddie Smith is in scoring range in the 50 and 100 free.

Ohio State

Hanna Gresser (junior breaststroker), Molly Kowal (senior distance freestyler), Kathrin Demler (senior IMer/butterflier), Kristen Romano (junior everything), Katie Trace (junior butterflier/IM’er) — Kathrin Demler heads into the meet with conference-leading times in the 500 free, 200 fly, and 400 IM. Molly Kowal is a reliable distance swimmer, who made the A final in the 500 free, 1650 free, and 400 IM last year, finishing 2nd in the 1650. Hanna Gresser was an A finalist in the 100 breast last year, and Katie Trace made the A final in the 400 IM, as well as the B in the 200 IM and 200 fly. Kristen Romano was yet another 400 IM A finalist last year, and made it to the A final in the 200 back, as well as the B in the 200 IM.

Penn State

Maddie Cooke (junior distance), Maddie Hart (senior backstroker), Abigail Amdor (freshman freestyler), Brooke Matthias (sophomore butterflier)— Maddie Hart looks set to lead the Nittany Lions, currently ranking in the top 5 in the conference in the 100 back, 200 back, and 100 fly. Maddie Cooke didn’t score last year, however, she has improved greatly this season, and her season best in the 50 free would have made the A final at last year’s Big Tens. Her 100 fly and 100 breast times this season would also have scored last year. Freshman Abigail Amdor is currently in the top 8 for the 100 free, and in scoring position in 200 free as well. Brooke Matthias made the B final in the 100 fly, and C in the 200 fly last season. She’s already been faster in the 200 fly this season than last year.

Purdue

Mallory Jump (freshman butterflier/backstroker/IM’er), Jinq En Phee (senior breaststroker), Emily Bretscher (junior diver), Emily Meaney (senior diver) —  Jinq En Phee finished 9th in prelims of the 100 breast last year, and was also a B finalist in the 200 breast. Mallory Jump has been excellent in her freshman campaign, and it seems likely she’ll score in her 3 individual events. Emily Meaney and Emily Bretscher scored 52 and 51 points respectively in diving last year.

Rutgers

Sofia Chichaikina (freshman sprinter), Terka Grusova (sophomore backstroker), Elinah Phillip (freshman sprinter) — This team is very young and sprint-oriented, which is a great setup for their free relays. Sofia Chichaikina could be top 16 in the50, 100, and 200 free, and could be bubble top 8 in the 100 free. Terka Grusova was an A finalist in the 200 back last year, and she looks like she could add an A final appearance in the 100 back as well this year. Elinah Phillip is another freshman that has a shot at scoring in at least the 50 and 100 free. Rutgers could also potentially work its way into the top half of teams in the 200 and 400 free relays.

Wisconsin

Beata Nelson (senior backstroker/IMer), Mara Newman (sophomore backstroker), Megan Doty (senior freestyler/butterflier/IM’er), Lillie Hosack (sophomore freestyler/IMer), Tereza Vithoulkas (sophomore diver) — Beata Nelson is a star, we know this already. She’s virtually a shoo-in in the backstroke events and the 200 IM. Mara Newman is currently in the top 8 in the conference in both backstroke events, giving the Badgers nice depth there behind Nelson. Megan Doty has swum very well in her senior campaign, and looks to be in scoring position in the 200 IM, 200 free, and 200 fly. Sophomore Lillie Hosack has been off this season, but if she is able to swim at or near top form at Big Tens, she would be a huge contributor for the Badgers. Diver Tereza Vithoulkas finished in the top 24 in both board diving events, and 11th in platform diving last year. If she is able to move up from those positions, which seems likely, she’ll accumulate a lot of points.

SHOWDOWNS

800 Free Relay

Michigan dominated this race by 6 seconds last year, but they also graduated every single member of that relay. Additionally, Michigan had Siobhan Haughey split 1:40.75, and Catie DeLoof splitting 1:42.39 last year, which were the 1st and 3rd fastest splits in the entire field. With the Wolverines facing an entirely new relay squad, the field is suddenly wide open, and there are plenty of teams that could realistically come out on top.

Starting with Michigan, it seems recent transfer Olivia Carter could be their fastest member. Carter split 1:44.60 at NCAAs and 1:44.57 at SECs last year while swimming for Georgia. Both Senior Chloe Hicks and freshman Kaitlynn Sims swam lifetime bests of 1:45.94 and 1:46.83 at the Minnesota Invite this Fall. Another freshman, Sophia Kudryashova, holds the #3 time on the team this season at 1:47.64. Junior Sierra Schmidt has swum very well this season, and holds a personal best of 1:46.76, so we may see her end up taking a spot on that relay.

Wisconsin finished 3rd last year after Beata Nelson very nearly ran down Minnesota’s Zoe Avestruz on the anchor. The Badgers return all but one member of that relay, Jessica Unicomb, who incidentally, was also the slowest leg last year (1:47.21). Now, Wisconsin’s chances here partly depend on whether Lillie Hosack is in, or near, top form. She led the squad of in an excellent 1:44.29 last year. Nelson provided a #2 fastest in the field 1:42.03 on the anchor, and Megan Doty was 1:46.86 on the 3rd leg. Sophomore Alana Palmer is currently #3 on the team this season, having swum a 1:48.26 in the Fall.

Ohio State was 4th last year, but lost none of its members from that relay. In order, the Buckeye members were Kristen Ramono (1:44.90), Georgia White (1:47.10), Kathrin Demler (1:44.70), and Katie Trace (1:46.28). Additionally, Lucija Jurkovic-Perisa was an A finalist in the 200 free last year, and her 1:46.59 currently leads the Buckeye top times by 1.5 seconds this year. On paper, it appears the Buckeyes have a very slight edge in this event.

400 IM

The 400 IM has been one of the most exciting events in the conference for years now. The only A finalist not returning this year is former Hoosier Bailey Andison, who won with a 4:02.37 last year. With Andison out, Northwestern’s Calypso Sheridan, who is also in the hunt for this title at NCAAs, is the favorite to win. Sheridan swam a 4:05.93 for 2nd last year, but has a personal best of 4:01.35 from NCAAs last year. Swimming her best time would actually break the Big Ten Record as well.

It seems that Ohio State’s Kathrin Demler is the top competition for Sheridan this time around, after swimming a lifetime best 4:03.96 at the Ohio State Invite this past November. Demler has the ability to take the race out very fast, and has a good breaststroke leg, and fast free leg coming home.

Ohio State’s Kristen Romano has the 3rd fastest personal best in the field, coming in at 4:04.56. She finished 3rd in 2019 with a 4:07.01. Romano is one of the swimmers in the field that comes home very fast on freestyle at the end of the race. Another such swimmer is IU’s Mac Looze, who finished 4th last year as a freshman, just .06 seconds behind Romano. Looze actually came home the fastest in the A final, splitting an impressive 56.83 on the final 100. Only one swimmer, IU teammate Christin Rockway, came home faster. Rockway finished 9th in prelims and finals, taking the B final with a 4:08.50. She posted a blistering 56.60 on the free leg in that race, and her overall time would have earned her 5th in the A final.

Ohio State’s Katie Trace finished 8th last year with a 4:12, but her prelims time of 4:08.16, and subsequent 4:07.84 at NCAAs indicate she could also be in the hunt.

200 Free Relay

The 200 free relay is another instance where Michigan won the race going away last year, but lost significant members of that squad. The Wolverines posted a 1:26.84 to win last year, but then-seniors Siobhan Haughey (21.33) and Catie DeLoof (21.64) have since graduated. Their splits were also the 2 fastest splits in the entire field. Michigan still has Maggie MacNeil, who has a personal best of 21.49, and Daria Pyshnenko, who could very realistically provide a sub-22 split this year. Although she’s primarily a breaststroker, Miranda Tucker has a personal best in the 50 of 22.26, which, even more importantly, she swam this season. The most likely candidate for the 4th spot is Vanessa Krause, who holds a best time of 22.41 from 2018 Big Tens. Given that, on paper it looks like the Wolverines could be close to 1 second slower than last year, in the mid-1:27 to high-1:27 range.

Like Michigan, Indiana also lost two of their members from last year, although In IU’s case, they replaced them with faster sprinters. The Hoosiers came in 3rd last year with a 1:28.48, led off by Julia Wolf (22.56), and followed by Christine Jensen (22.01), Shelby Koontz (21.96), and Laurel Eiber (21.95). Wolf has since transferred to Alabama and Jensen graduated. Freshmen Cora Dupre and Ashley Turak are in line to take those two spots. Dupre leads the Hoosiers this year with a 22.09, and Turak has a personal best of 22.10. Junior Grace Haskett also has a personal best of 22.10. It looks very likely IU will be faster in this event than last year.

Ohio State finished 2nd in 1:28.12, and lost only one relay member, Maria Coy, who split 22.11. They return Freya Rayner (22.19), Rebekah Bradley (22.08), and Taylor Petrak (21.74). Rayner’s lead-off split last year was slightly off her personal best of 22.09. At their mid-season invite, the Buckeye’s replaced Coy with freshman Amy Fulmer, who actuallyled the team with a 22.10 anchor split. With that squad, Ohio State looks ready to swim at least as fast as they did last year, which could put a 3rd relay in that 1:27 range.

100 Breaststroke

With Lilly King out of the picture, the breaststroke fields are wide open. Michigan’s Miranda Tucker was the runner-up in both the 100 and 200 breast last year. Tucker swam a 58.25 to take 2nd last year, finishing well ahead of Minnesota’s Lindsey Kozelsky, who swam a 58.96. Kozelsky actually holds the best time in the field, though it’s tight between her and Tucker. Kozelsky has been as fast as 57.91, and Tucker 57.93. The next fastest personal best in the field is not a returner, rather, it’s IU freshman Emily Weiss, who clocks in at 58.40. That trio seems like the top 3 going in, since they’re the 3 swimmers in the field who have been sub-59.

Behind them, returning 2019 A finalists include IU’s Noelle Peplowski and Ohio State’s Hanna Gresser. Peplowski has been 59.18, and Gresser has been 59.69. Northwestern’s Tara Vovk won the B final last year with a 59.94, while her teammate Sophie Angus has nearly broken 1:00 with a personal best of 1:00.11. Northwestern also has freshman Hannah Brunzel, who is currently 4th in the conference this season with her best time of 59.76. All things considered, Northwestern could end up with 3 swimmers in the A final this year.

200 Breaststroke

The 200 breast is a very similar story. Michigan’s Miranda Tucker was the runner-up last year, touching in 2:07.64. She narrowly beat out IU’s Noelle Peplowski (2:07.75), and Northwestern’s Calypso Sheridan (2:07.98). Tucker holds the best time in the field in this event, coming in with a personal best of 2:06.27, although that time is from the 2016 Big Tens. Peplowski came in 6th at NCAAs last year with her personal best of 2:06.94.

Tucker tends to take the race out a little more conservatively than the rest of the field, relying on the back half a little bit more. It’s Minnesota’s Lindsey Kozelsky that seems to take the race out the fastest in this field. Kozelsky has a personal best of 2:07.37, which she swam at 2018 Big Tens. Calypso Sheridan‘s best time is her 2:07.98 from last year, but we can’t be sure she’s going to swim the 200 breast at Big Tens this year. Sheridan could also end up in the 200 back, where the field is a bit less crowded this year.

Sheridan’s Northwestern teammate Hannah Brunzell is currently 3rd in the conference this season with a personal best of 2:08.61. Another freshman, IU’s Emily Weiss, has a personal best of 2:10.20.

SELECTIONS

Swimulator, which does not factor in diving, has Michigan with a slight edge on its conference meet projection. That being said, diving has to be factored into the final picks, and diving is notoriously hard to predict. It’s even trickier this year, since the Big Ten graduated an excellent senior diving class last year, and it’s an Olympic year, so many of the conference’s stars are taking a redshirt this year. This leaves the diving events much more open than they were last year, and there’s plenty of opportunity for teams to capitalize on that. Going in, it appears Purdue, Ohio State, and Iowa should be among the highest scoring diving teams.

The full benefit of Michigan’s addition of Olivia Carter is yet to be reflected in the Swimulator, since she’s only swum dual meets since officially joining the roster. Another check mark in Michigan’s column is that it appears they’ll outscore Indiana in diving this year.

The Swimulator is projecting Northwestern to double their score from last year. If they successfully do hit the projected 800+ swimming points, they shouldn’t have a problem making the top 4. 5th-9th could end up being very tight if the projections are reasonably accurate, since Purdue and Iowa should rake in a lot of diving points.

SWIMULATOR RANKINGS

Michigan 1132.5
Indiana 1061
Ohio St 977.5
Northwestern 835
Minnesota 647
Wisconsin 612.5
Penn St 553.5
Iowa 438
Purdue 394
Nebraska 298.5
Rutgers 252.5
Michigan St 196
Illinois 171

SWIMSWAM PICKS

  1. Michigan
  2. Indiana
  3. Ohio State
  4. Northwestern
  5. Minnesota
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Iowa
  8. Penn State
  9. Purdue
  10. Rutgers
  11. Nebraska
  12. Michigan State
  13. Illinois

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DravenOP

That Iowa yellow though…

Dbswims

Yea thats what I was thinking. Maybe a little darker shade of yellow would be better

DravenOP

Looks like they fixed it! Much better.

first to the 25

As invisible as they’ll be in the team competition. another 8-10th place incoming. Will be beat by newcomers Rutgers and Nebraska, again.

Buddy

Ohio state takes the W don’t @ me

Austinpoolboy

The way OSU’s team is built, lots of good depth, few stars, they are much better conference team than NCAA team. Not out of realm of possibility

It’s certainly within the realm of reason. There should be a lot of very good conference championship team battles this year, and this is one of them. I think all 3 among Indiana, Ohio State, and Michigan have the opportunity to take the title by swimming very well. In other words, I think each of the 3 controls their own destinies, none need a collapse by the others to win, if that makes sense.

Swimmer

O-H

Doc

Is Illinois a fully funded program? I can’t imagine they aren’t giving some scholarships out but can’t believe they are not able to attract a few people who can score at B1G Championships.

swimmerman

I bet they are all faster than you doc