|Redbirds finish fourth, slip to Ball State at home|
|Written by Kevin Powell, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 17 January 2012 16:14|
While most ISU students were enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures during the holiday break, the Illinois State swimming and diving team had it even better.
The Redbirds traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico during the break to compete in the Copa Coqui Puerto Rico Invitational.
ISU was competing for the first time in nearly a month as they last swam in early December. Other schools competing at the invite were South Dakota, Bryant, Army, Connecticut and Southern Illinois.
The event offered a bit of a different measurement as competitions were measured in long-course meters instead of short-course yards.
“The student-athletes are making a smooth transition into swimming with different measurements, and I am looking forward to seeing how they respond to the change in a meet setting,” ISU head coach Steve Paska said before the invitational.
A pair of young swimmers made the biggest splash with sophomore April Livingston and freshman Valerie Jones helping to lead the team to a fourth place finish.
Livingston finished third in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:17.97 while Jones finished in fifth place after posting a time of 1:19.99.
“The 100-meter breaststroke was a key event for us,” Paska said. “I am very impressed with April and Valerie’s performances today.”
Freshman Cecilia Holmes finished in third-place in the 200-meter IM with a time of 2:34.2.
Another freshman stood out for ISU when Samantha Schuckles finished in the top five in the 100-meter backstroke with a post of 1:12.54.
Paska was pleased with the team's overall performance at the seven day trip.
“Copa Coqui has been an outstanding opportunity for our
As the 'Birds made their way back to Bloomington–Normal a formidable opponent awaited them. Ball State came to ISU’s campus sporting a clean 5-0 record as the 'Birds had a 2-1 record in dual meets.
“Ball State is having a fantastic year,” Paska said before the meet. “Head coach Laura Seibold-Caudill always has her team prepared to race, which will make for an exciting meet.”
ISU head diving coach Phil Hoffmann was well aware of the tough opponent his team faced.
“Ball State has a strong diving team every year, top to bottom,” Hoffmann said.
Ball State proved their record was no fluke as they handed the 'Birds their second dual meet loss of the season.
“Today showed us we are a little rusty from competition,” Paska added. “One thing that that was missing today was our breakout speed, hence the back half was just not as fast as we wanted it. I am overall very pleased with the performances today.”
Jones won the 1000-yard freestyle with a time of 10:35.37 and was followed by freshman Cecilia Holmes with a time of 10:36.37.
Senior diver Brittany Tazzioli continued her strong efforts as she earned a score of 269.70 in the 1-meter dive. Senior Polly Hirt earned a season-best score of 244.12 on the 1-meter board.
“The whole meet was a team effort,” Hoffman said. “We are a lot farther along at this point in the season than I thought we would be, and I am extremely impressed with how deep our team is.”
The 'Birds will travel to Illinois–Chicago this Friday for their next meet at 5 p.m.