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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The eighth-ranked Lady Vols cheered on their teammates through 19 events in today’s 220-131 win over Northwestern at the Student Aquatic Center. Tennessee won 16 of the 19 contests in the meet, the first for the team since their winter training.
“The last five or six weeks have been really intense,” head swimming coach Matt Kredich said. “Going home always means a lot to people and coming back can be difficult, especially to train and train as hard as we have been training. What has been consistent over the last six weeks is there has been a lot of intensity.
“At this point, we are really solid and consistent and I think it’s a great achievement. It reflects a tremendous amount of team unity and team vision. I can’t say enough about all the performances today.”
Highlighting the meet for Orange and White was freshman Aleksa Akerfelds and sophomore Michele King who each won three events. Senior Christine Magnuson posted wins in the 200y free and 100y fly. Her time in the fly marked her first NCAA automatic qualifying time of the year.
Freshman Tricia Weaner, sophomore Alex Barsanti, Magnuson and junior Katie Gehring took the first 11 points of the meet by posting a 3:45.72 time in the 400y medley relay. The squad was followed by Northwestern’s “B” and “C” teams.
Freshman standout Akerfelds posted a new season-best time in the 500y free, 4:53.52, en route to her first collegiate win and second NCAA provisional cut in the event. Junior Carly Mathes followed Akerfelds in second place with the fastest time of her career, 4:55.00. Also helping the UT cause was junior Sarah McCall who finished fourth in 4:59.79.
King won the 100y freestyle for the second time this year. Her 50.20 posting earned the sophomore an NCAA “B” cut. Also scoring points for UT was junior Brittany Nauta (52.46) and senior Laura Fehrman (52.64), as they were third and fourth, respectively.
Martina Moravcikova tallied nine points for Tennessee with a win in the 200y breast (2:20.80). The freshman was .22 seconds ahead of sophomore Bryttany Curran in second (2:21.02). In her first 200y breast event as a Lady Vol, Barsanti placed fourth with a time of 2:22.58.
Magnuson, who earned All-America status in the 100y breast in 2007, posted her first NCAA “A” cut of the year after touching the wall in 53.64 in the event. The USA National Team member was 3.39 seconds quicker than second-place Rachel Rys of Northwestern. Junior Betsy Lange (57.77) and freshman Morgan Farrell (58.06) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Going into the diving break, UT was leading NU 67 to 26.
Senior Lauren LeRoy took the one-meter diving event with a zone qualifying score of 269.85. UT’s other two contingents, senior Vicky Linnell (237.16) and freshman Jill Pierce (211.27) placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
Junior diver Staley McCartney and head diving coach Dave Parrington stayed in Athens, Ga., today for the Georgia Diving Invitational and Shootout. McCartney decided to compete in the platform event as opposed to only the springboard contests in the NU meet. She placed 14th with 172.85 points.
Weaner picked up her second NCAA “B” cut in the 200y back when she finished first with a time of 2:00.75. Weaner’s classmate Farrell, earned two points for UT with a fourth-place showing (2:07.22). Junior Maria Jugan stopped the clock in a season-best 2:10.11 for sixth.
The Big Orange was leading the Wildcats 102-48 after the 400y IM, thanks in part to another win for Akerfelds. The Bronxville, N.Y., native finished nearly a second ahead of Northwestern’s Kassia Shishkoff with a 4:24.12 time. Mathes and McCall also picked up points for UT by finishing in the No. 3 and 4 spots with times of 4:26.54 and 4:26.60, respectively.
The final event in the morning session, the 200y free relay, saw the foursome of King, Gehring, Mathes and Magnuson post an NCAA qualifying time of 1:33.22 to take first. Quinn, Weaner, Farrell and Nauta came in third in 1:36.80.
Tennessee went in to the break with nine wins in as many events and a score of 115 to Northwestern’s 52.
In the first race of the second session, the 200y medley relay, Tennessee’s “A” team of Weaner, King, Magnuson and Gehring touched the wall first in 1:42.74, UT’s second-fastest time of the year. The foursome of senior Danyelle Vincent, Curran, Lange and Fehrman also scored points with a third-place time of 1:48.13.
It was finally Northwestern’s turn in event No. 11 as Katie Braun took the top spot for the Wildcats. Farrell led the Lady Vols in second place (2:04.12) and senior Brooke Boncher was fifth (2:11.46).
There were two heats and 11 contingents in the 200y free and Magnuson topped them all. For her second win of the day, the Tinley Park, Ill., native stopped the clock in an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 1:48.04. She was followed by Mathes, Weaner and Nauta in the second through fourth spots. Mathes’ 1:50.11 was also an NCAA “B” cut and Weaner’s 1:50.88 was a season best. Swimming in exhibition, Lange achieved a new season-best time in 1:56.52.
The Wildcats took the 100y breaststroke when Hayley Fry touched the wall first in 1:04.00. Curran, Moravcikova and Barsanti took the next three spots with times of 1:04.36, 1:04.98 and 1:05.84, respectively.
Going into the three-meter diving event, UT led the Wildcats 158-83.
LeRoy swept the diving events for the second time this year as she took the top spot from the three-meter board with a score of 285.69 for her second NCAA Zone qualifying score of the day. Pierce came in third with a 222.31 total.
Lady Vols occupied the top three spots in the 50y freestyle. King’s time of 23.60 gave the All-American her second win of the day. Gehring (23.95) and Quinn (24.35) followed in second and third, respectively.
Northwestern picked up another win in the 100y back, but was followed closely by UT’s Farrell (57.87). Vincent came in fourth in 59.97.
Akerfelds won her third title of the meet with an impressive 16:25.18 in the 1650y freestyle. She demolished the NCAA provisional qualifying time (16:53.04) and was less than two seconds from her first automatic qualifying time (16:23.54). Swimming the 1650y free for just the second time in her collegiate career, she took nearly 11 seconds off her previous personal-best time. Also with a season best was McCall. Her 17:00.00 posting was good enough for third.
King followed in Akerfelds’ footsteps by earning her third win of the day in the 200y IM. Her time of 2:04.78 marked a new personal best and NCAA “B” cut for the York, Pa., product. Mathes and Weaner rounded out the top three by touching the wall in 2:05.36 and 2:06.27, respectively.
“Michele put together one of the best meets she has had since she’s been here,” Kredich said. “She had seven great swims today.”
The Lady Vols did not quiet down in the final event of the evening, the 400y free relay. UT’s three entrants swam in exhibition. The “A” team of Magnuson, King, Mathes and Nauta finished first with a time of 3:25.03.
“One of the challenges of this part of the year is to overcome staleness,” Kredich said. “One of the challenges of a meet like this is to not look to tomorrow, which is a day off, but to shake off some of that staleness and bring intensity. You can see it on the sidelines.”
Tennessee will be back in the pool on Jan. 18 when the Indiana Hoosiers come to town. The meet will begin at 1 p.m. and will be held at the Student Aquatic Center on the UT campus.