Women’s Swimming: Wildcats beat Fighting Illini despite winning fewer races

Alex Lederman, Assistant Sports Editor

Swimming and Diving

Northwestern dove into its 2014-15 season Friday with a 160-140 win over Illinois at the Norris Aquatics Center.

The Wildcats kicked off the tournament with second- and third-place finishes in the 200-yard medley relay. The Fighting Illini’s ‘A’ squad took first with a time of 1:44:12. NU’s ‘A’ finished 0.64 second later for second and its ‘B’ team edged out Illinois’ ‘B’ by 0.02 second for third.

Next up, NU freshman Monique Demaisip notched second in the 3-meter diving.

The Cats snagged their first first-place finish in event three, the 1,000-yard freestyle. Sophomore Lauren Abruzzo, an NCAA qualifier who broke multiple school records in her freshman season, earned the Cats 9 points by scoring first, with junior Ellen Anderson and sophomore Megan Purdy adding to that total with second- and fourth-place finishes, respectively.

But Illinois won the next two races, the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. Still, NU grabbed second in each; sophomore Annika Winsnes in the free and sophomore Lacey Locke in the back. The Cats placed third (sophomore Melissa Postoll) and fourth (junior Karen Turner) in the 100-yard backstroke as well.

In the sixth event, the 100-yard breaststroke, NU really began to pull away, with junior Julianne Kurke and sophomore Katie Branch finishing first and third, respectively.

Then the Cats landed the top three spots in two straight events: the 200-yard butterfly and the 50-yard freestyle. Sophomore Ellen Stello won the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:00.80, nearly a second faster than her previous personal-best.

Demaisip did even better in the 1-meter dive than the 3-meter, placing first instead of second this time.

Meanwhile, Winsnes snagged another first place finish in the 100-yard freestyle, and Locke cruised to first place in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing more than three seconds before Postoll, who earned second.

NU didn’t get first place in any of the remaining five events, but the Cats crowded the top of the leaderboard anyway, finishing second, third and fourth in nearly all of the races. They placed second, fourth and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and second, third and fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

All in all, the Cats actually won fewer events than the Fighting Illini — seven vs. nine — but won with more second- and third-place spots.

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