Abruzzo Shatters Pool Record, Stephens Cracks 20 Seconds to Help Pace Wildcats after Day 1 of TYR Invitational

by Varun Shivakumar 0

November 22nd, 2013 Big Ten, College, News

The Northwestern Wildcats are hosting their annual TYR Invitational this weekend in Evanston, Illinois, and it didn’t take very long for some fast swims on both the men’s and women’s sides to steal the show at the Norris Aquatic Center. Participating teams on the men’s side included Northwestern University, Missouri State University, University of North Dakota, Michigan State University, University of Illinois-Chicago, Kenyon College, and Truman State University. On the women’s side, the same teams as above were represented with the addition of Bowling Green University and the University of Northern Iowa.

To start off the meet, the women’s 200 freestyle relay was captured by Bowling Green’s Victoria Griffin (23.70), Joelle Scheps (23.61), Kayla Effinger (23.61), and Brittany Szekely (22.50) who combined to go a 1:33.42 for first place overall. They just outtouched the quartet from Michigan State (1:33.64) and also the ladies from Northwestern (1:33.92) who took 2nd and 3rd respectively.

On the men’s side, the Wildcats were led by senior Chase Stephens, who led off with a sizzling 19.87 split before teammates Andrew Jovanovic (FR./19.86), Matt Wilcox (SR./20.43), and Uula Auren (JR./20.28) followed to win the race overall in a time of 1:20.44. Stephens lead off split broke a 9-year-old pool record of 19.93 that had been held by none othan than Matt Grevers himself. Furthermore, the men just missed an impressive pool record set by Northwestern back in 2004, when the standard was set at 1:20.28. Although the top times in the country will continue to change as more mid-season meets are completed, the Wildcats have one of the top 10 times in the country at the moment with their victorious relay, and Stephens also moves into the top 10 in the country win the 50 freestyle with his lead-off split. Missouri State took 2nd with a time of 1:21.35, while Michigan State took third in 1:21.56.

The first individual event of the meet came in the form of the 50 yard breaststroke, and the women’s race saw Missouri State’s Renata Sander cruise to an easy victory in a time of 28.34. Following about three-quarters of a second behind was Michigan State’s Shelby Lacy (29.02) for 2nd, while Bowling Green sophomore Danielle Carrillo took third in 29.52. In the B-final, NU’s Katie Branch tied with Kenyon’s Katie Kaestner to win the heat in a 29.62. On the men’s side, Auren took the top spot with a time of 25.06, which just edged Missouri State’s Isaac Springer (25.08) and his teammate Aaron Dennis (25.40) for the 2nd and 3rd place spots. NU’s Van Donkersgoed took the B-final in 25.99.

Just minutes after the conclusion of the sprint breaststrokes,  Northwestern freshman Lauren Abruzzo blitzed the field in the 500 freestyle en route to breaking her own pool record from the prelim session (4:46.91) with a winning time of 4:46.11. The pool record entering Thursday had been a 4:48.64 by Stanford’s Amy Oberhelman back in 1997, and Abruzzo’s new standard also clipped the NCAA ‘B’ standard (4:47.79) as well. Northwestern actually took 1-2-3 in the 500 with sophomore Ellen Anderson (4:54.01) and senior Erin Sosdian (4:55.06) rounding out the top 3. Bowling Green’s Emily Waller captured the consolation final victory in a time of 4:58.93.

The men’s race also saw a quick finish with 2013 Open Water World Team member Jordan Wilimovsky taking top honors with a 4:22.57 effort. The swim was a personal best by over a second for Wilimovsky, and was also a five second drop from the prelim session. The Wildcats were also able to capture second place with freshman Charlie Cole going a lifetime best time of 4:26.95, while Michigan State freshman Jon Burke snagged the final spot in the top 3 with a time of 4:28.48. In the B-final, Stephens chopped over five-and-a-half seconds from his prelim swim to win in a lifetime best time of 4:30.27.

The women’s 200 individual medley saw yet another Northwestern victory on the women’s side as freshman Lacey Locke posted a swift time of 2:02.05 to top the field. She was closely followed by teammates Becca Soderholm (2:02.54) and Abruzzo (2:02.83) as the Wildcats scored some big points on their competition. The men’s race saw a similarly thrilling finish as Missouri State junior Paul Le (1:47.41) held off teammate Uvis Kalnins (1:47.51) and Northwestern’s Jovanovic (1:47.59) in a race that came down to the final few yards. Notably, both Kalnins’ and Jovanovic’s final 50 splits were faster than Le’s, and this is indicative of how Le’s closing speed was just good enough in this instance to claim the event title. Michigan State’s Elizabeth Brown (2:04.91) and Alec Kandt (1:51.51) won the consolation finals in the women’s and men’s races respectively.

Next up came the 50 freestyle, and Bowling Green secured its first individual victory of the meet as Szekely took first overall in a winning time of 23.32. Not far behind her was Michigan State’s Summer Strickler (23.58) and Bowling Green’s Griffin closed out the top 3 with a time of 23.64. Additionally, Bowling Green’s Scheps took the consolation final in a 23.91.  On the men’s side, Stephens rebounded from his consolation final victory in the 500 freestyle to claim the overall title in the splash and dash with a 20.04 effort. He comfortably won the race ahead of Michigan State’s Samuel Schulze (20.87) and Missouri State’s Jack Snow (20.94), while NU’s Dominik Cubelic captured the consolation final victory with a time of 20.83.

Finally, the session ended with the 400 medley relay, and the ladies from Missouri State came out triumphant this time as Anna Ahlin (54.94), Renata Sander (1:02.70), Roni Balzam (55.74) and Shannon Myer (53.04) combined to win the race in a 3:46.42. Northwestern took 2nd in a 3:47.46 while Bowling Green followed very closely behind with a 3:47.64 of their own.

On the men’s side, the men from Northwestern had the final say as they captured the medley relay in a pool record time of 3:13.10. Junior Mark Ferguson (48.51), Uula Auren (53.81), Andrew Jovanovic (47.39), and and Chase Stephens (43.39) teamed up for the winning effort, and they cleared the previous pool standard of 3:14.96 that had stood since 2006. Missouri State took 2nd with a time of 3:15.10 while Michigan State University rounded out the top 3 with a 3:17.70.

Standings after Day 1:

Men – Team Rankings – Through Event 14

1. Northwestern University 326
2. Michigan State University 270.5
3. Missouri State 263.5
4. University of Illinois- Chicago 111
5. Kenyon College 101
6. University of North Dakota 80
7. Truman State University 48

Women – Team Rankings – Through Event 13

1. Northwestern University 288
2. Missouri State 196
3. Bowling Green State Univ. 195
4. Michigan State University 193
5. University of Illinois- Chicag 122
6. University of North Dakota 108
7. Kenyon College 66
8. Truman State University 55
9. University of Northern Iowa 21

Full Results can be found here.


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About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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