Women’s Swimming: NU downs Wolverines in last home meet of season

Bill Carey

In the final home meet of their careers, Northwestern’s three seniors did something they had never done before – beat Michigan.

The No. 20 Wildcats (9-2, 2-2 Big Ten) honored seniors Hayley Fry, Jill Forster and Sara White-Delehoy before the meet and then rode the ceremony’s momentum to a commanding 173-122 victory over the No. 22 Wolverines on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center.

“They were determined to perform well for the seniors,” coach Jimmy Tierney said. “But I thought it would be a dogfight.”

The Cats dominated from the first stroke, jumping out to a 15-2 lead in the 400-yard medley relay, with Fry’s strong performance in the breaststroke leg helping NU’s second team edge out Michigan’s first.

“Our opening relay set the tone,” Tierney said. “We talked about the relays all week. We just wanted to make a statement and show Northwestern relays are always going to be tough. I think Michigan just got a little down, and we just kept the ball rolling.”

In the 1000-yard freestyle, the meet’s second event, the NU trio of Jenn Kocsis, Ellen Grigg and Beth Loe swept the top three places.

“After a few hard weeks of training, I felt okay,” Kocsis said. “But I could definitely feel better. I just tried to keep steady the whole way.”

The Cats continued to control the pool with Kassia Shishkoff picking up the win in the 200-yard freestyle and Jenny Wilson taking first in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The Cats also swept the top three spots in the 50-yard freestyle, where Emily Wong, Shelby Johnson and Teisha Lightbourne helped the team stretch its lead to 94-37 before the meet’s first break.

The team’s most dominant performance of the day came in the 200-yard breaststroke, where Wilson, Hannah Points, Kathleen Patterson and Forster recorded a 1-2-3-4 finish for the team.

“Jenny Wilson looked terrific in the breaststrokes,” Tierney said. “And Jill Forster, I think it was her best in-season time in the 200 breast.”

Forster wasn’t the only senior to swim well in her final home meet. Fry and White-Delehoy both contributed to their last home meet win.

“Sara swam some of the best times she’s swam since she’s been here,” Tierney said. “Hayley had been sick all week but came back really competitive. The seniors were awesome. I’m just so proud of them and thankful for just helping inspire the group this week.”

Picking up a win over the Wolverines and letting the seniors go out on a high note was important for the team.

“I actually got a little teary-eyed at the beginning when they were announcing the seniors,” Kocsis said. “We’ll definitely miss them. I love training with these girls.”

And it was the entire team’s effort that helped make her final home meet a fantastic experience, Forster said.

“The girls really showed up and put a lot into this meet,” she said. “It was really special. It’s making me even more excited for finishing on a strong note.”

But after four years of swimming in SPAC, saying goodbye is tough.

“It’s kind of sad thinking this is the last time I’ll ever be racing in this pool,” Forster said. “After swimming here every day for four years, I’m a little attached to it. But it’s great to finish on this great of a meet.”

[email protected]