The Illinois State swimmers and divers finished in second place at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships and earned 16 school records in the process in Carbondale, Ill. ISU posted a final total of 723.5 to finish behind Missouri State with a score of 945.5.
“Illinois State had an amazing weekend breaking 14 swimming and two diving records,” ISU head coach Steve Paska said. “That alone speaks for the entire team we have this season. We had tremendous personal bests and it was a fantastic way to end the 2013-14 season.”
The Redbirds opened their last day of the meet with the 1650-yard freestyle. Keely Hunt with a time of 17:28.89, Maddie Farrell with a 17:43.86 time, Laura Paskoff with a time of 17:55.25 and Yvette Kruk with a 17:55.61 time recorded personal bests in 1650-yard freestyle.
In the 200-yard backstroke, Katelyn Kresal earned a school and personal record in the prelims with a time of 2:02.52. In addition, Sammy Schuckles earned a personal best time of 2:03.87 in the prelims. Rachel Root earned a 10th-place finish with a time of 2:04.62 during the finals and Tara Gidaszewski earned a season best time of 2:09.34.
Marissa Yontz earned a victory in the 100-yard freestyle and now holds the school record and a personal best time of 50.44. Erica Halley earned a personal best time of 51.54 and Paskoff earned a season best time of 52.63 in the prelims.
Cecilia Holmes took second-place in the 200-yard breaststroke with a personal best time and school record time and Courtney Taylor recorded a personal best time. April Livingston registered a personal best time of 2:21.13 and Allison Soper earned a season best time of 2:24.008. Valerie Jones took 10th-place with a 2:21.85 time.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Kristin Verkler took seventh-place and earned a personal best time of 2:04.99 in the prelims. Lexi Nash took seventh-place and received a personal best time of 2:08.24 in the prelims. Claire Haggerty took 15th-place with a time of 2:12.74 and Emily Langlotz finished in 17th-place with a personal best time of 2:15.50.
ISU earned a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay to round out the swimming portion of the meet. Halley, Katherine Nelson, Verkler and Yontz earned first place with a 3:24.55 time. Taylor, Kresal, Holmes and Nash earned eighth-place with a 3:31.56 time.
“What a championship meet for Marissa Yontz,” Paska said. “She tied for first in the 50-yard freestyle, won the 100-yard freestyle and earned second-place in the 200-yard freestyle. Yontz was also part of the winning 400- and 800-yard freestyle relays and on the second-place 400-yard medley relay. Her efforts helped set many of the school records this weekend along with record breaking performances from Cecilia Holmes, Sammy Schuckles and Courtney Taylor. Today was an outstanding meet from the Redbirds. They had great work ethic from the start of the season until now. It was a bittersweet night to see our three seniors race for the last time, but it was great to see them finish so strong with passion.”
On the diving side, Wenting Zhang finished in third-place with a personal best score of 373.20 on the three-meter board and now holds the school record. Kelly Sanks with a score of 240.35, Maggie Kopp with a 232.10 score and Molly Schatz with a score of 226.05 earned personal bests on the three-meter board.
“This was one of the best weekends we have had at the MVC Championships before,” ISU diving coach Phil Hoffmann said. “All four of our divers did very well. Zhang had another record-breaking performance tonight and this weekend has shown that our conference has become very strong. Just in her last three performances this weekend, Zhang has set three new school records. This was a great conclusion to our season and I am proud of how each diver performed at the MVC Championships. I am looking forward to seeing the competition at the NCAAs in March.”
While the rest of the team finished its season at the MVC Championships, Zhang moves on to the NCAA Diving Regional March 13-15 in Columbus, Ohio.