Huskers Down Illini on Senior Day
Lincoln, Neb. - Eight different Huskers tallied victories, including a sweep of the diving events, and the Nebraska swimming and diving team held off Illinois 160-140 on Senior Day at the Devaney Natatorium. The Huskers won nine of the meet's 16 events, with the help of a six event win streak, en route to their second straight victory over the Illini.
The Huskers started strong, winning the meet's opening event, the 200-yard medley relay by more than a second. The team of Jacqueline Juffer, Shannon Guy, Natalie Morris and Taryn Collura finished in a time of 1:43.76.
Bailey Pons then won the 1,650-yard freestyle in 17:02.65 to continue Nebraska's opening charge. With the win, the senior improved her career total to 39 victories. She would later add a fourth-place finish in the 500 free to cap the final home meet of her career.
After the 1,650 free, Illinois started to gain momentum, taking the lead with wins by Courtney Pope and Alison Meng in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. Meanwhile, Huskers Morgan Flannigan (1:52.79) and Jacqueline Juffer (57.34) earned second-place finishes in the respective events to keep the score tight.
Starting with the 100-yard breaststroke, Nebraska won the next six events to take control of the dual. Guy was the victor for the Huskers in the 100 breast, finishing in 1:04.88. The senior added a second-place finish in the 100 fly later on in the meet.
Natalie Morris was the next winner for the Huskers, claiming the 200 fly crown for the 6th time this season. The junior finished in a time of 2:02.41.
The Husker sprint freestyle corps also played a key role in the win streak, with Alexandra Bilunas (23.76) and Taryn Collura (23.88) finishing first and second in the 50-yard freestyle. Just two events later, Collura won the 100 free in a time of 51.58 to continue to build Nebraska's lead.
Nicole Schwery also kept the win streak alive with a victory in the one-meter dive. The sophomore scored a career-best 297.23, edging teammate Anna Filipcic (296.18) for first place. Filipcic would return the favor in the three meter, besting Schwery's career-best 313.35 with a score of 321.07 for the victory.
The Huskers' final win of the streak came from Erin Oeltjen in the 200-yard backstroke. The freshman finished in 2:03.52 for her fourth victory of the season.
Senior Morgan Flannigan nearly stretched the streak to seven for the Huskers, taking second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:00.15. Flannigan also finished second in the 200 free, swimming a time of 1:52.79 in her final home meet.
Illinois won five of the meet's final six events to narrow the final margin. Erica Lynn (200 breast), Gabbie Stecker (500 free), Alison Meng (100 fly) and Lori Lynn (200 IM) were the individual event winners for the Illini down the stretch, adding to their 400 free relay victory. With Meng's 100 fly title, she became the only multi-event winner on the day for either squad.
However, the Husker lead was too much to overcome as they improved their all-time series record to 3-4 against the Illini. Nebraska also moved to 4-2-1 on the season, while Illinois fell to 8-6-1.
Saturday's meet was the beginning of the home stretch for the Huskers, who have just one more competition before the Big Ten Championships. Next weekend, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Nebraska travels to Columbus, Ohio, for a double dual with Ohio State and Michigan.
Following their trip to Columbus, the Huskers have nearly three weeks to prepare for the 2014 Big Ten Championships. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minn., for the second straight season, running from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22. Check back in to Huskers.com and follow @HuskerSwim on Twitter for any and all updates regarding the Nebraska swimming and diving team.