ISU upends UNI, 189-108 in second home dual meet

The Illinois State swimmers and divers have been road warriors over the past couple months, as the Redbirds hosted a meet at Horton Pool for the first time in over two months on Saturday. In ISU swimming and diving’s first home meet since Nov. 8, the Redbirds came up with their second Missouri Valley Conference dual meet victory of the season over the Northern Iowa Panthers, 189-108.

“After our winter trip to San Juan and the extended travel time, I was impressed with the performance the Redbirds showed under a little bit of adversity,” head coach Steve Paska said. “In addition, the team wasn’t at 100 percent due to a number of the student-athletes’ injuries and illnesses. During this meet we showed perseverance because if one swimmer was sick it was the next swimmer up.”

Sammy Schuckles, Courtney Taylor, Lexi Nash and Marissa Yontz placed first with a time of 1:48.82 in the 200-yard medley relay, while Erica Halley, April Livingston, Kristin Verkler and Katherine Nelson finished in second place in the 200-yard medley relay with a 1:51.41 time.

“At the beginning of our meet it is always our goal to start with momentum and we did it again this week,” Paska said. “The swimmers started the drive of this meet with first and second-place victories in the 200-yard medley relay.”

Several individuals earned first-place finishes. Verkler won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:57.50 and the 100-yard butterfly with a 59.70 time. Yontz emerged victorious in the 50-yard freestyle with a 24.11 time and the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:22.44. Valerie Jones took first place in the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:48.94.

Rachel Root earned a first-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a 1:00.14 time. Taylor took first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:07.05. Nelson emerged victorious in the 100-yard freestyle with a 54.52 time.

Halley finished in first in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:08.96 and Livingston won the 200-yard breaststroke with a 2:26.26 time. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Halley, Nelson, Verkler and Yontz broke the pool record with a time of 3:33.17.

“The meet continued with a number of close races,” Paska said. “I am impressed with the student-athletes attention to detail today, especially in the back half of the races. They went much better than the first.”

Wenting Zhang earned first place on the 1-meter board with a score of 306.07 and the 3-meter board with a 330.31 score. Molly Schatz took third on the 1-meter board with a score of 233.69.

“Coming off of winter training, the first meet back is always a challenge to get the student-athletes back in a routine,” diving coach Phil Hoffmann said. “However, I am very proud of their outstanding performance against UNI. Wenting had a solid meet today, but her presentation on the 3-meter board was the highlight of the diving portion of the meet. Molly is very talented on the 1-meter board and is working hard to have a more well-rounded performance on the 3-meter board.  The rest of the team is looking really good just coming off of training. Next week will show how well we trained during break.”

ISU swimming and diving returns to Horton Pool for its final home meet of the season on Jan. 18 against Washington at noon. The Redbird seniors will be honored during the meet, as it will be the final home meet of their careers.

“Today’s meet was a solid start to 2014, but we still have two more dual meets left for the season,” Paska said. “Our team needs to work to get healthy for the first of the two, Washington, who we will race this weekend.”

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