Freshman Cara Bognar’s 3 Wins Lead Illinois to First Big Ten Victory Since 2018

Nebraska vs Illinois

  • Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • SCY (Short Course Yards)
  • Results

Team Scores

  1. Illinois – 164
  2. Nebraska – 136

Illinois traveled to Lincoln to face Nebraska in a dual meet today, emerging victorious in a 164-136 decision. The win was monumental for the Illini, marking the program’s first Big Ten dual meet victory since October 12th, 2018, when they bested Michigan State. Last year, the Illini swam to a tie in their dual with the Spartans.

leading the way for Illinois was Cara Bognar, a freshman who has been electric for the Illini this season. Bognar posted 3 victories on the day. She first took the 200 fly, swimming a 2:03.62, getting out to a 58.55 first 100, then holding on to win the race by 2 seconds. Bognar then turned around and won the 500 free, narrowly mising her personal best with a 4:59.26. The swim was less than a second of her best of 4:58.34, which has stood since 2018. Bognar then capped the meet with a 4:27.75 in the 400 IM, leading teammate Jimena Martinez-Lopez, who took 2nd in 4:33.57.

Abby Cabush was pivotal in the Illini’s success today, winning the 100 and 200 free, and most importantly, besting Nebraska star Autumn Haebig in both races. In the 100 free, Cabush and Haebig had the exact same 2nd 50 split – 26.90. Cabush had taken the race out in 25.01 to Haebig’s 25.64, resulting in a 51.91 for Cabush and 52.54 for Haebig. Notably, Illinois took the next two spots, with Lily Olson (52.56) and Laurel Bludgen (53.29).

Cabush then went up against Haebig in the 200 free, Haebig’s best event, and negative split the race. Cabush was out in 56.88, slightly behind Haebig’s 56.41. Cabush then came home in 55.23, touching in 1:52.11, while Haebig was 56.17, also negative splitting, for a 1:52.58. Illinois again took the 3rd and 4th finishes, with Anna Kurzydlo (1:57.61) and Isabelle Guerra (1:58.43).

Cabush was also instrumental in both the Illinois relays, which won. In the 200 medley, Cabush provided a 24.99 fly split. Athena Salafatinos led the squad off in 26.59, Bolgar swam a 30.65 breast split, and Laurel Bludgen anchored in 23.97, for a final time of 1:46.20. Splits are not available in the 400 free relay, but Illinois won the race in 3:30.85.

Ella Stein was a double-event winner for Nebraska, sweeping the breaststrokes. The freshman took the 100 breast with a 1:06.05, leading a group of Illini, who finished 2-3-4-5. Stein went on to clock a 2:23.88 in the 200 breast, again leading a group of Illini, who took the next 6 spots. In that race, Stein was pressed by Illinois’ Emily Bolger (2:23.97) till the very end. Bolger out-split Stein on each of the 1st 3 50s, but Stein was 1.15 seconds faster than Bolger on the final 50, getting her hands on the wall first.

Madesyn Ronquillio was another Husker double-winner, sweeping the backstrokes. In the 100 back, Ronquillio swam a 57.09, besting Illinois’ Athena Salafatinos by nearly a second. She went on to post a 2:02.46 in the 200 back, after going out in a 58.80 on the first 100. She faded a bit down the stretch, but still finished over 4 seconds ahead of the field.

Audrey Coffey picked up a decisive win in the 1000 for Nebraska. Coffey swam a 10:18.47, finishing 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Sidney Kennedy from Illinois (10:34.48). Coffey went on to take 2nd in the 500 free, finishing in 5:05.03, behind Bognar. She also placed 3rd in the 400 IM.


The Nebraska swimming and diving team hosted the Illinois Fighting Illini on Senior Day in Lincoln at the Devaney Natatorium. In a close meet, the Illini came away with the dual win over the Huskers, 164 to 136.

The Husker senior class was honored before the meet was kicked off. Gabby BarattaMadison CoughlenAutumn Haebig, Abi Knapton, Izzie MurrayJessica PentlargeMira Rhodes and Grace Tiernon were all congratulated on successful years as members of the team.

Audrey Coffey got the meet started off hot, with a pair of top two finishes in the long distance freestyle races. In the 1000 yard freestyle, Coffey swam to a first place finish time of (10:18.47). Molly Rosenthal swam to a good third place finish (10:37.12) in the race. In the 500 freestyle, Coffey grabbed second place (5:05.03) in what was a solid day for the junior swimmer. Taylor Acheson came in fourth place for the Huskers (5:13.21).

Coffey would also take third place in the 400 IM, finishing with a time of 4:35.35. Madison Coughlen would land in fifth (4:38.33) for the Huskers as well.

In the sprint freestyle races, Autumn Haebig performed well in both the 100 and 200. She finished in second place in both events with good times, timing 52.54 in the 100 and 1:52.58, with both races coming down to the wire.

In the 50 freestyle, Alexa Kucera was the first Husker to finish, taking third place (24.75). A pair of Huskers, Kim Lanaghen and Caitlin Cairns, drew for fifth place (24.96), sharing the points.

Madesyn Ronquillio had a great day in the pool, winning both of the backstroke races. The junior transfer from Boise State won the 100 with a time of 57.09, while freshman Gabby Donahue swam to a third place finish (58.34). Ronquillio also won the 200 with a four second gap between her and second place, finishing 2:02.46. Sarah Barton’s good swim gave her third place (2:07.49) in the event.

Freshman Ella Stein had a breakout day for the Huskers as well. The swimmer from Hudson, Wisc. took victories in both breaststroke races for Nebraska. In the 100, Stein swam to a great finish of 1:06.05, while in the 200, won her second race of the day in a close battle, 2:23.88.

In the 200 butterfly, Maggie Berning and Shannon Stott finished in the top three for the Huskers. Berning finished as the runner-up (2:05.92) in the race, while Stott came in third (2:07.21) for the Huskers.

Alexa Kucera and Izzie Murray would both finish in the top four, with Kucera taking second (57.41) in a good swim and Murray finishing in fourth (57.85) in the close race.

On the boards for the Huskers, it was a clean sweep of the top three spots in both the one meter and the three meter in what was really a perfect day in the deep water. Abi Knapton won the one meter with a score of 314.63, while Sara Troyer came in second place (289.28) and Hallie Roman in third (271.57).

In the three meter, Sara Troyer took the top spot for the Huskers with a score of 331.80. Abi Knapton came right behind in second place (315.00) and Hallie Roman took third (272.63) once again for Nebraska.

The relays played a big factor in the close battle. The Huskers opened up the day with a second place finish in the 200 yard medley relay, swam by Autumn HaebigElla SteinIzzie Murray and Alexa Kucera (1:46.66).

The final event of the day was the 400 yard freestyle relay, where Nebraska took second place (3:31.80) once more. Alexa Kucera, Gabby DonahueCaitlin Cairns and Autumn Haebig swam the race for the Huskers.

Coach Pablo Morales had good things to say of the Huskers in the meet, especially with the seniors, on their final meet in the Devaney Natatorium.

“It was really a great day overall,” Coach Morales said. “Great meet, good atmosphere and racing. Our event staff and supporting staff put together a really great meet, even though it’s just the one meet here this year and it was a fitting tribute for our seniors. Talk about legacy when seniors start their careers, because they have four years to leave a lasting imprint on a program and each senior class does something positive with the program in their own way, and this class is no exception. We’ve got some amazing leaders and great talents in this class. All the great things about our program now, as a team, are due in large part to this senior class. They’ve certainly been through a lot in terms of the team and working on improving our culture each and every year. They’ve played a huge part in the positive building process and they are so special in how they’ve helped this program.”

The Fighting Illini improve to 1-1 in duals on the year, while the Huskers drop to 0-2. Next weekend, Nebraska will travel to Minnesota for a triangular with the Golden Gophers and a rematch with the Hawkeyes from Iowa. The meet is set to take place in Minneapolis on Saturday, slotted for a 10 a.m start time.



LINCOLN, Neb. – The University of Illinois swimming and diving team defeated Big Ten foe Nebraska (0-2) Saturday afternoon by a score of 164-136. The victory marks the first conference dual meet win on the road since October 23, 2015 at Michigan State. Freshman Cara Bognar earned three individual first place finishes, while junior Abigail Cabush and freshman Lily Olson received two top finishes apiece on the day.

“It was a tremendous effort from the entire team to get a win against a tough and talented Nebraska team,” said head coach Sue Novitsky. “We were relaxed heading into the meet and got a great shot of energy from the first relay. From that first event all the way to the end, everyone was stepping up and competing. We stayed together as a team and that helped us keep fighting when the pressure was on us. Now, we have to take what we learned from this meet and keep taking steps to get better each week.”

Bognar led the way for the Illini winning all three of her events. Those included the 200 butterfly (2:03.62), 500 freestyle (4:59.26) and 400 individual medley (4:27.75). She won the 200 butterfly and 500 freestyle last week at Purdue as well. Cabush grabbed her own victories in the 100 and 200 freestyles with times of 51.91 and 1:52.11, respectively. She also won both of those events at Purdue a week ago. Olson rounded out the group of girls winning their individual events. She claimed first place in the 50 freestyle (24.36) and 100 butterfly (57.05), while also placing third in the 100 freestyle (52.56).

Juniors Emily Bolger and Sidney Kennedy placed in multiple individual events too. Bolger brought home second place in the 200 breaststroke (2:23.97) and third place in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.37). Kennedy secured second place in the 1000 freestyle (10:34.48) and 500 freestyle (5:10.76).

Illinois (1-1) also grabbed first place in both the 200 medley relay (1:46.20) and 400 freestyle relay (3:30.85). The 200 medley relay team started the day off for the Orange and Blue and consisted of sophomore Athena Salafatinos, Bolger, Cabush and freshman Laurel Bludgen. The 400 freestyle relay team of Olson, Cabush, sophomore Isabelle Guerra and Bludgen capped off a victorious meet.


Four freshman were featured in the one-meter and three-meter events on Saturday. In the three-meter dive Brooke Michael posted a score of 240.60, good for sixth place. Allison Landis scored 244.88 to also finish in sixth place for the one-meter dive. Taylor Michael and Cacia Kaupp were the others in the diving lineup for the Fighting Illini.


Illinois will travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on Wisconsin and Northwestern on Saturday, February 6 at 1:00 p.m. CT.


Stay tuned to for all the latest information on Fighting Illini Swimming and Diving. Follow the Orange and Blue on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for even more coverage.


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Brooke Carr
1 month ago

Way to go Cara!!!

Lauren Murray
30 days ago

Ayo let’s go Cara 😫👑