Returning Conference Points: Ohio State Women Return 22 Scorers In Big Ten

The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled in the coronavirus pandemic – but the virus can’t stop our pre-season coverage for the 2021 campaign. We’re running through a comprehensive preview of each of the Power-5 conferences in Division I, compiling returning conference points and tracking transfers and incoming recruits.

2020 Lookback

The Ohio State women capped an incredible season with their first Big Ten title since 1986, and the program’s sixth overall. It wasn’t close, as the Buckeyes crushed national powers Michigan and Indiana by almost 200 and more than 500 points, respectively.

Ohio State was just plain good across the board, with a conference-high 27 individual scorers. The Buckeyes were great in distance, with 3 A finalists in the 500 free, including conference champ Kathrin Demler, and conference mile champ Molly Kowal. But they also had the sprint chops to win the 200 free relay, getting a 21.6 leg from Freya Rayner and a 21.7 from freshman Amy Fulmer.

Michigan’s top-end talent had big meets. Maggie MacNeil won three races, including a conference-record 49.42 in the 100 fly. (She also won the 50 free and 100 free). The Wolverines took a meet-high three relay titles (200 medley, 400 medley, 400 free) and also got event wins from Miranda Tucker (100 breast) and mid-season transfer Olivia Carter (200 fly).

Indiana saw standout freshman Cora Dupre win the 200 free in a breakout meet. Northwestern surged all the way to 4th as a team behind a massive effort from 400 IM/200 breast champ Calypso Sheridanand Wisconsin’s reigning NCAA swimmer of the meet Beata Nelson went 3-for-3 in her senior year with wins in the 200 IM, 100 back and 200 back, plus a key leg of the 800 free relay.

Returning Points for 2021

Ohio State had the top-scoring senior class last year and graduates both Big Ten champions – but the Buckeyes still lead by a longshot in returning points. Ohio State has more returning individual points (932) than anyone but Michigan scored last year individually. The Wolverines do make up some ground in returning points, though, trailing by 166 instead of the 197 they lost by last year.

Indiana had an argument based on returning relay legs – until star rookie Cora Dupre entered the transfer portal, taking four relay legs (including the best splits on the 200/400 free relays) and leaving Indiana with the same number of returning relay legs as Michigan.

Further back, Northwestern returns 84% of its individual points and most of its relay legs, but does lose one key component: head coach Jeremy Kippwho took the head coaching job at USC this offseason.

Team Returning Individual Points % Returning Individual Points Returning Relay Legs
Ohio State 932 76% 13/20
Michigan 766 76% 14/20
Indiana 580 76% 14/20
Northwestern 541 84% 14/20
Wisconsin 349 75% 13/20
Purdue 298 77% 16/20
Minnesota 250 66% 12/20
Penn State 208 69% 18/20
Nebraska 190 86% 11/20
Iowa 124 55% 13/20
Rutgers 91 94% 18/20
Illinois 44 98% 13/20
Michigan State 39 100% 15/20

Scorers By Team

Teams are listed in their 2020 conference finish order. Athletes are listed with their year as of the current 2019-2020 season, not their year for the 2020-2021 season.

Ohio State (932)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Crawford, Macke FR 79
Romano, Kristen JR 76
Gresser, Hanna JR 70
Rayner, Freya JR 63
Panitz, Josephi FR 60
White, Georgia SO 59
Angerame, Genev JR 58
Fulmer, Amy A FR 56
Tafuto, Veronic SO 56
Petrak, Taylor JR 49
Barker, Lexie JR 47
Jaspeado, Natal JR 43
Trace, Katherin JR 42
Brenn, Jackie FR 33
Fye, Nicole M JR 32
Bach, Hannah M FR 31
Mosher, Georgia SO 31
Wolfe, Brynna E FR 17
Palutsis, Amand SO 12
Walsh, Aislinn FR 9
Sperber, Sarah JR 7
Kilger, Kennady FR 2

Michigan (766)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
MacNeil, Margar SO 96
Carter, Olivia SO 80
Kwan, Victoria SO 75
Schmidt, Sierra JR 67
Canale, Nikki JR 64
Sims, Kaitlynn FR 62
Pyshnenko, Dari JR 55
Klein, Allie SO 39
McPherson, Camr JR 37
Minnich, Kather SO 29
Cutshaw, Christ JR 24
Glass, Megan E FR 22
Krolikowski, Ka JR 22
Cheetham, Laure FR 19
Venter, Mariell FR 17
Margett, Alexis JR 17
Cleason, Emma C JR 15
Hogan, Lucy E FR 10
Kudryashova, So FR 7
Sisson, Carolin SO 5
Tang, Tsoi Lam FR 2
Sundermann, Pai FR 2

Indiana (638)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Peplowski, Noel SO 76
Looze, Mackenzi SO 73
Weiss, Emily N FR 61
Kovac, Bailey J JR 56
Kirkpatrick, Ab JR 39
Wallace, Maggie SO 38
Haskett, Grace JR 38
Grote, Josephin JR 37
Turak, Ashley N FR 37
Eiber, Laurel E JR 34
Gildersleeve, C FR 24
Smith, Zain C FR 24
Wang, Alyssa SO 22
Ober, Ryley M FR 11
Doherty, Alexis FR 8
Rouleau, Anne M JR 2

Northwestern (541)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Sheridan, Calyp JR 92
Guevara, Miriam SO 69
Hopkins, Markie FR 68
Brunzell, Hanna FR 58
Lepisova, Emma FR 55
Larson, Ally D FR 49
Angus, Sophie G JR 47
Patrick, Jaye D FR 29
Smith, Madeline JR 27
Lebl, Ilektra V JR 14
Groysman, Yulia FR 12
Vovk, Tara SO 9
Hellmer, Jasmin SO 6
Ghose, Labonita SO 4
Nowaski, Daniel FR 2

Wisconsin (349)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Hosack, Lillie SO 69
Vithoulkas, Ter SO 45
Waechter, Madis JR 41
Newman, Mara S SO 31
Silvestri, Jenn SO 31
Palmer, Alana I SO 30
Artim, Kelsi R JR 24
Reddington, Ale JR 18
Seigal, Mikayla FR 16
Lindorfer, Aliv FR 15
Guanci, Margare SO 11
Richardson, Pai JR 7
Lampre, Isabel SO 6
Moore, Elizabet FR 5

Minnesota (250)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Zhu, Joy SO 56
Sullivan, Kathe SO 28
Cook, Emily N JR 23
Lezer, Emma J FR 21
Fowler, Jaclynn FR 19
Sarkis, Jae C SO 19
Kilgallon, Abig SO 18
Van Law, Patric JR 14
McGinty, Jordan FR 11
Erwin, Abbey K JR 10
Butler, Rachel FR 10
Erwin, Maggie A FR 9
McCarthy, Kelli SO 7
Bennin, Grace R FR 3
Bloomer, Olivia SO 2

Purdue (298)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Bretscher, Emil JR 83
Vieta, Maycey A FR 36
Merriman, Maggi SO 35
Jump, Mallory K FR 26
Myers, Natalie JR 22
Turner, Lindsay FR 21
Seidl, Maizie R JR 20
Kobylak, Sylvia FR 19
Bowen, Kendra N FR 18
Kishman, Riley JR 6
Wrightson, Tess SO 5
King, Evan R JR 4
Decoursey, Gret JR 3

Penn State (208)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Schobel, Marie SO 40
Cooke, Madelein JR 35
Matthias, Brook SO 31
Ledwith, Madiso SO 22
Amdor, Abigail FR 18
Szekely, Stepha JR 17
Murtagh, Madiso SO 16
Hart, Carly C JR 13
Shurts, Sierra FR 6
Jack, Olivia G SO 5
Sheridan, Kathl SO 3
Markvardt, Marg FR 2

Iowa (124)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Drake, Kelsey D JR 45
Tamborski, Sama SO 38
Sansome, Emilia FR 22
Rink, Macy I FR 4
Olesiak, Aleksa FR 4
Koluch, Julia FR 4
Schemmel, Sarah JR 4
Gilbertson, Ken FR 2
Reeder, Grace C FR 1

Nebraska (190)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Haebig, Autumn JR 53
Troyer, Sara K SO 42
Coughlen, Madis JR 40
Coffey, Audrey SO 22
Powers, Rachel JR 12
Roman, Hallie C SO 12
Kilpatrick, Kat SO 4
Berning, Margar SO 2
Murray, Isabell JR 2
Rosenthal, Moll FR 1

Rutgers (91)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Grusova, Tereza SO 41
Chichaikina, So FR 26
Phillip, Elinah FR 24

Michigan State (39)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Venn, Kasey M FR 14
Szara, Erin S JR 11
Inch, Emma K FR 6
Neely, Erin M JR 5
Ling, Amanda T SO 3

Illinois (44)

Athlete Year 2020 Points
Shegos, Taylor SO 44


New Additions

In our recruiting class ranks, we had Wisconsin much higher than any other Big Ten program at 7th nationally. They’ve got an immediate Beata Nelson replacement in 50.7/1:50.7 backstroker Phoebe Baconand added another 52-second backstroker for depth in Kaylyn SchoofThough Nelson is a huge loss, Wisconsin graduates just three individual scorers and should be in solid shape to refill seven departed relay legs.

We rated the recruiting classes from Michigan, Ohio State, and Northwestern in very much the same tier.

Michigan probably has the deepest crew. 1:57.2/4:07.7 IMer Kathryn Ackerman is the headliner, but the Wolverines brought in two great breaststrokers (1:00.8/2:11.7 Claire Donan and 1:00.7/2:15.7 Claire Tuttle) to help cover for graduated conference champ Miranda Tucker.

Ohio State’s class is a little sprintier. Kit Kat Zenick is a 22.3/48.8 sprinter and 52.5 flyer who should help Ohio State transition into even more of a sprint powerhouse as its distance swimmers graduate. British import Emily Crane (25.7/55.2 long course) is probably a comparable freestyler to Zenick, and OSU could have a shot at multiple relay titles next year.

Northwestern also has a star international sprinter: 25.4/55.3 Turkish freestyler Selen OzbilenThey also pulled 16:12 miler Lola Mull – but there’s also an outside chance a star or two doesn’t stick around through the coaching change, whether they follow Kipp to USC or return to their home club in the new Olympic year.

Indiana and Rutgers also made our rough top 25 recruiting classes nationally. IU gets 1:45.6/49.2 freestyler Ella Risticwho should be a further boon to a team that had a lot of young relays last year. Rutgers adds Alabama transfer Cathryn Salladin (a star miler whose lifetime-bests would have scored 35 Big Ten points last year). Rutgers should also get Federica Greco back from an Olympic redshirt – she scored 38 points in 2019 and was an A finalist in the 100 fly. That’s a great sign for a program that returns 18 of 20 relay legs and 94% of its individual points.

A few other recruiting classes stood out to us. Minnesota has a huge class, led by 4:10.5/2:01.5 IMer Megan van BerkomThe Gophers have a couple good divers coming in – and they’re getting at least one elite one back from redshirt. Sarah Bacon was the NCAA 1-meter champ and scored 60 points at Big Tens in 2019. She’s confirmed to be returning to the active roster this year. Kristen Hayden was a 73-point Big Ten scorer in 2019, and could be returning, too, though there’s no word yet as to whether she’ll take another Olympic gap year.

Purdue also has a nice class, based on 4:46.2/16:22 distance swimmer Hayley PikeAnd Nebraska made a late addition, getting ECU transfer Shannon Stotta 1:58.5 flyer who split 1:46.9 on a relay last year.

2021 Outlook

While we think Wisconsin’s incoming class is going to be one of the best rookie groups in NCAA scoring, the deep Big Ten scoring format still favors big classes from Ohio State and Michigan. One of the tricky pieces in projecting this meet is how much each team focused on Big Tens last year – and how much they’ll focus on them this year in relation to NCAAs and potential Olympic qualifying meets shortly after.

Michigan was in line for a top-5 finish nationally last year, and it felt like they were really saving their best stuff for NCAAs, while Ohio State made Big Tens a major priority. If anything, we’d expect that disparity to be similar next year, too, as Ohio State’s depth really comes through well in the Big Ten scoring format, and less so at NCAAs. With comparable recruiting classes, we’ve got to pick Ohio State to defend its title.

Indiana’s not far behind Michigan in returning points and has a pronounced advantage in returning relay legs. But if Michigan can fill Tucker’s medley relay breaststroke legs with one of their freshmen, they should still be in excellent shape.

There are some question marks around Northwestern amid a coaching change, but their margin of almost 200 more returning points over Wisconsin is too hard to argue against at this point, especially with good recruiting classes for both programs.

Purdue actually outscored Minnesota individually last year, 386 to 381, but the Gopher relays carried the day in overall points. Minnesota returns only 12 of 20 relay legs, but we like their incoming class enough to have them 6th, especially assuming they get one or both star diver(s) back from redshirt.

Penn State only graduated two individual scorers and two relay legs. Rutgers is a ways back of Nebraska and Iowa in pure returning points, but Salladin and Greco should add upwards of 70 points together, and Rutgers already had 18 relay legs returning. We’ll take them narrowly over Iowa and Nebraska for now.

Way-Too-Early Conference Picks

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

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Vanilla Gorilla
2 years ago

It will be interesting to see how the new facilities at Wisconsin (and Yuri) will impact recruiting over the next few years. I would guess not many programs will invest in pool facilities in the current climate.

Reply to  Vanilla Gorilla
2 years ago

I recon that the big ten becomes a 4 horse race with Wisconsin but it might take more than a couple years for them to become a force to be reckoned with.

2 years ago

27 individual scorers? Does the B1G not have a roster limit for conference meet?

2 years ago

Do Big12 Men!!! I’m dying to hear who you think has the upper hand in that meet next year!

But seriously, these are fun. You’re work is appreciated and enjoyed by so many people. Thanks!

Reply to  Willswim
2 years ago


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Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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