Jan. 14, 2006
The University of Notre Dame women's swimming and diving team earned its most impressive meet victory of the season on Saturday evening, edging No. 15 Michigan 1,120 - 1,111 in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame also bested Illinois, who finished in third place with 840 points.
Notre Dame's talented roster ended up as the deciding factor in the tri-meet. While the Irish won their share of events throughout the two-day event (including three individual victories by junior All-American Katie Carroll), it was the team's depth that earned the victory. Entering the evening session on Saturday the Irish trailed Michigan in the team standings by 45 points, but 12 top-five finishes by the team sealed the win.
The Irish, who entered the meet ranked 20th in the nation, nab their first victory over Michigan since the 2003 season.
Notre Dame returns to campus to continue training and will now push toward the 2006 BIG EAST Championship (Feb. 15-18 in Long Island, NY). The team's next dual meet will be on the road again at Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 21.
DAY TWO RECAP:
The day-two battle began with Michigan just out-touching Notre Dame in the 200 medley relay. The Irish team of sophomore Caroline Johnson, junior Julia Quinn, freshman Casey Wagner and junior Rebecca Grove finished in 1:45.88 - just behind Michigan's time of 1:45.32.
Junior Katie Carroll got the Irish back on track in the 400 individual medley, coasting to victory in 4:21.30 - a full seven seconds ahead of her closest competitor. Freshman Claire Hutchinson took third place in 4:29.28.
Michigan seized back control of the meet with a one-two-three finish in the 100 butterfly and also claimed victory in the 200 freestyle. The Irish, however, did post three top-five finishes in the 200 free led by Wagner (third, 1:52.16), freshman Christa Riggins (fourth, 1:53.46) and junior Ellen Johnson (fifth, 1:54.22).
Notre Dame returned to the winner's circle in the 100 breaststroke with a one-two finish. Quinn placed first in 1:05.42, followed by sophomore Natalie Burke
The team point total drew even closer in the 100 backstroke. Michigan's Kaitlyn Brady took first, but Grove was close in second place (58.14), followed by Caroline Johnson in fourth (58.50) and sophomore Katie Guida in fifth (1:00.88).
Following the pattern from Friday evening, Michigan received a big boost from its divers. Ellen Van Cleve and Elyse Lee finished one-two for the Wolverines, followed by freshman Lucy Hirt for the Irish in third place with 245.55 points. Sophomore Tara Hyer ended up fourth with 241.40 points.
The morning session ended with another relay victory for the Irish. The 800 freestyle relay team of Wagner, Ellen Johnson, Riggins and Carroll eased to victory in 7:31.60, seven seconds ahead of Michigan's "A" relay.
At the end of the first session on Saturday, Michigan held a narrow lead with 790 points, followed by Notre Dame with 755 and Illinois with 626.
Freshman Claire Hutchinson began the evening swim with a victory in the 1,650 freestyle with a dominating season-best effort of 16:46.41. Hutchinson had finished second in the 500 freestyle earlier in the meet. Junior Abby Strang finished third in 17:31.04.
Michigan came back to grab a victory in the 200 backstroke, but junior Ann Barton was able to finish second in 2:03.66 and Ellen Johnson took fifth in 2:07.27. Two more top-five finishes were delivered in the 100 freestyle when Grove finished third in 51.83 and Riggins fourth in 53.08.
Quinn then came through in the 200 breaststroke, as the junior came close to her season-best time with a 2:16.42 effort (five seconds better than her closest competitor). Sophomore Katie Hopkins finished fourth in 2:22.48 and junior Jessica Stephens fifth in 2:23.18. Notre Dame drew even closer in the team scoring.
The deciding event ended up as the 200 butterfly and the Irish responded with a big one-two finish. Carroll took the victory in 2:00.73 (just off her season-best time of 2:00.61) and pulled Wagner with her. The Irish rookie earned her second victory of the meet (500 freestyle) and touched the wall in a season-best time of 2:02.53.
Notre Dame would need to finish second in the final event of the evening, the 400 freestyle relay and the team of Riggins, Wagner, junior Meghan Linnelli and Grove delivered by taking second in 3:29.81.
FINAL TEAM SCORES:
1. Notre Dame, 1,120 pts.
2. Michigan, 1,111 pts.
3. Illinois, 840 pts.