In one of its most dominating Big Ten Championships performances ever, the Indiana women’s swimming and diving team capped things off with a pair of individual titles to win its third-straight Big Ten Championship and its fourth in the last five years.
Minnesota swept the two individual Big Ten awards given out at the Championships. Tyler was named the Swimmer of the Championships, while Kelci Bryant was named the Diver of the Championships. Bryant captured the 1-meter and 3-meter diving titles for the second straight season. Indiana head coach Ray Looze picked up Coach of the Year laurels. Penn State's Chelsea Weedman earned the nod for Freshman of the Year after her performances in the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley. Bob Rydze of Iowa picked up Diving Coach of the Year, the first time since the 1986 season a Hawkeye as won the award.
While Indiana ran away with the team title, finishing 243 points ahead of runner-up Minnesota, the middle of the pack was tightly-bunched with less than 30 points separating fourth through seventh. The top three was Indiana (821), Minnesota (578) and Ohio State (456). The next four - Penn State, Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin went 391.5, 385.5, 367 and 360.5 respectively. Northwestern (178), Iowa (151), Michigan State (86) and Illinois (82) rounded out the field.
“The women responded so well,” said Minnesota co-head coach Kelly Kremer. “We performed very well across the board. Now we look ahead to the NCAA Championships. It will be an exciting meet for the Gophers.”
“It’s nice to move into the top three in the league, but the truth is that it is just another step toward the top,” Ohio State coach Bill Dorenkott said. “We accomplished our mission this weekend, which had nothing to do with points, places or times. Instead, we chose to focus on our people. The goal was to learn, grow and build confidence. To that, mission accomplished.”
Steenvoorden, a junior, is the class of the distance freestylers in the Big Ten sweeping both the 500-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle events the last two seasons. On Saturday, Steenvoorden won her third consecutive 1,650 free crown with a season-best time of 15:58.62. She is just the second Gopher to win three straight event titles in the same event at the Big Ten Championships (the other is Jillian Tyler now with four titles in the 100 breast).
“Seeing Ashley win her third straight title was great, but made this event so special was seeing all six of our swimmers swim so well and score points,” added Kremer. “The 1,650 was a blast to watch.”
Taylor Wohrley put up a pair of lifetime bests in the 200 backstroke, going 1:53.70 in the final for a second-place finish. Teammate Ashley Jones was fourth in 1:54.77, also a new lifetime best. Kim Tracey swam the consolation final where she took 11th overall in 1:57.56.
Megan Detro, Ohio State's splendid sophomore sprinter from Carmel, Ind., won a Big Ten title in the 100 freestyle to join Samantha Cheverton as a 2011 Big Ten champion. Detro had the fastest preliminary time with a school-record swim of 48.48, and she came back in the evening to win her title in 48.58.
Tyler added the Big Ten title in the 200-yard breaststroke to her 100 breast crown from Friday. Once again, the Gopher senior swam to gold in record time. Her time of 2 minutes, 7.11 seconds is a Big Ten, Big Ten Championship and Minnesota record. It is also the second-fastest time in the nation this season.
Tyler finished her Big Ten career as an eight-time Conference champion with four titles in the 100 breast and two in both the 200 breast and the 400 medley relay.
“Jill had such an outstanding Big Ten meet,” said Golden Gopher co-head coach Kelly Kremer. “Winning four straight in the 100 breast was special but she was also swam so well in the 200 and the relays. I’m so happy to see her recognized for her performances by being named the Swimmer of the Championships. It certainly was well deserved. She’s had a brilliant Big Ten career.”
Minnesota went 1-2 in the 200 breast with Haley Spencer finishing second with a fantastic swim of her own clocking a career-best time of 2:07.61, a time also faster than the previous Big Ten Championships record. Spencer’s time ranks fourth in the nation.
“Haley is another Gopher she had just an outstanding Championships,” said Kremer. “It was so much fun watching Hailey and Jill battle it out and go first and second. Haley’s times were faster than the previous records as well. I’m looking forward to seeing both of them do well at NCAAs.”
Competing in her final Big Ten championship, senior Brittany Barwegen came through with her first career Big Ten title, winning the 200 butterfly in a time of 1:56.28. Brenna MacLean was the winner of the consolation heat with her career-best time of 1:57.94, while Lindsay Vrooman took 16th (2:01.42).
Freshman Laura Ryan won her first Big Ten title in the platform diving competition, but it was teammate Amy Cozad who came away with the Big Ten meet record. Ryan won the championship final with a score of 348.55. Amy Cozad won the consolation final with a score of 371.50, the second-highest five-dive total in school history and the new Big Ten meet record. Cozad came back strong after a rough prelims that included a missed dive and a balk.
Other coaches comments about their meet:
"Today we had some great swims," Illinois head coach Sue Novitsky said. "Erica (Lynn) was able to get her first night swim and Brittany (McGowan) was able to do it again today. They were both able to get faster times at night, which is a good step and good to be able to do under pressure. The relay finish was tough, but they went out and gave it everything they had. I can't ask for more than that. It leaves a bitter taste, but it's something we can use. We took some steps in the right direction."