One day after the Northwestern men’s team claimed their first victory of the year at Eastern Michigan University, the Northwestern women were able to do the same at home against the visiting University of Illinois squad in a 160-140 battle. Despite conceding both relays to the Illini, the Wildcats were able to ride off the momentum they built from multiple 1-2 and 1-2-3 finishes to withstand a late charge from UofI.
The Wildcats were victorious largely due to their depth rather than the efforts of a select few swimmers, as no Northwestern swimmers were double event winners. Individual event winners for the purple and white include sophomore Lauren Abruzzo (1000 free, 10:08.58), senior Julianne Kurke (100 breast, 1:04.21), sophomore Ellen Stello (2:00.80), freshman Mary Warren (50 free, 23.66), sophomore Annika Winsnes (100 free, 51.85), and sophomore Lacey Locke (200 back, 2:02.06). The Wildcats were also able to grab the 1 meter diving event thanks tot the efforts of freshman Monique Demaisip (265.95).
Though Northwestern only won 7 of the individual events in the meet, a pair of 1-2-3 finishes in the 200 butterfly (2nd place Maddy Sims 2:06.45, 3rd place Aja Malone 2:06.54) and in the 50 free (2nd place Winsnes 24.12, 3rd place Julia Pratt 24.13) helped power the Wildcats to some crucial early points.The Wildcats also secured 1-2 finishes in the 1000 free (2nd place junior Ellen Anderson 10:18.01) and 200 back (2nd place Melissa Postoll 2:05.26).
Stello’s showing in the 200 butterfly was perhaps the most impressive swim of the entire meet, as it was a collegiate best for the sophomore out of Shorewood, Wisconsin, and also currently ranks 13th in the country with that effort. Considering this is the first racing opportunity for the Wildcats this season, Head Coach Jimmy Tierney can be very satisfied with some of the early speed he witnessed today.
The Illini had their fair share of promising swims this evening as well, including them taking the 200 medley relay to begin the meet as Alison Meng, Sam Stratford, Lori Lynn, and Megan Marchuk combined to go a 1:44.12.
Individually, Meng, Stratford, and sophomore Gabbie Stecker all grabbed multiple individual event wins to aid the Illini cause. Meng took top honors in the 100 back (54.81, NCAA ‘B’ Cut) and in the 100 fly (55.56), and it should be noted that her 100 back was less than a second off her career best of 53.94 from last year’s Big Ten Championships.
Stratford doubled in both the 200 breast (2:18.90) and in the 200 IM (2:04.27) while Stecker doubled in the 200 free (1:51.41) and in the 500 free (4:58.10) to give the Illini some big points individually.
The Illini actually won the last 5 events of the meet as they also captured the 400 free relay in a winning time of 3:26.76 (Meng 51.75, Stecker 52.05, Gabby Bethke 51.80, and Megan Marchuk 51.16), but it was too little too late to catch up with the Wildcats at the end. This was the University of Illinois’ season opener as well so the Wildcats improved to 1-0-0 on the season while UofI begins its season 0-1-0.