Minneapolis, Minn. - Four Huskers advanced to finals, three earned NCAA B Cuts, and the Nebraska swimming and diving team completed the first round of preliminary events at the Big Ten Championships. The Huskers competed in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard IM and 50-yard freestyle at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center on Thursday morning.
In the first preliminary event of the morning, Bailey Pons finished 21st in the 500-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 4:49.63. Fellow senior Morgan Flannigan swam a career-best 4:52.37 and finished 34th, while Ashleigh Grammar (56th) and Michaela Cunningham (62nd) also recorded season bests.
500-Yard Freestyle Results
21st - Bailey Pons, 4:49.63 (Season Best)
34th - Morgan Flannigan, 4:52.37 (Career Best)
56th - Ashleigh Grammar, 5:02.28 (Season Best)
62nd - Michaela Cunningham, 5:12.05 (Season Best)
The 200-yard IM preliminaries saw seven Huskers record season-best times, including five career bests. Samantha Hardewig placed 21st with a career-best 2:01.47, earning an NCAA B cut and qualifying for the evening's C final. Julia Roller (2:02.68) and Kelly Dunn (2:04.59) also swam career bests, finishing 27th and 43rd.
200 IM Results
21st - Samantha Hardewig, 2:01.47 (Career Best, NCAA B Cut)
27th - Julia Roller, 2:02.68 (Career Best)
43rd - Kelly Dunn, 2:04.59 (Career Best)
50th - Natalie Morris, 2:05.80 (Season Best)
57th - Katie Ditter, 2:07.20 (Career Best)
67th - Krista Van Wie, 2:08.95 (Career Best)
68th - Kristin Strecker, 2:09.31 (Season Best)
72nd - Ciara Jenkins, 2:16.79
Taryn Collura (22.68) and Alexandra Bilunas (22.91) each set season-best times in the 50-yard freestyle for the Huskers, finishing ninth and 17th, respectively. Both earned NCAA B cuts and will advance to tonight's finals, with Collura participating in the B final and Bilunas in the C final. Bilunas' time was also a career best for the sophomore.
50-Yard Freestyle Results
9th - Taryn Collura, 22.68 (Season Best, NCAA B Cut)
17th - Alexandra Bilunas, 22.91 (Career Best, NCAA B Cut)
35th - Shannon Guy, 23.31 (Season Best)
39th - Rebekah Land, 23.35 (Career Best)
42nd - Bria Deveaux, 23.45 (Career Best)
79th - Jacqueline Juffer, 24.17 (Career Best)
82nd - Megan Ziemann, 24.27 (Career Best)
Head Coach Pablo Morales commented on his team's performance Thursday morning, specifically some of the near misses his athletes had in making it to finals.
"All in all, it was a very good morning," Morales said. "When you get into a meet like this, you hope for a lot of scoring opportunities, and we didn't get as many as we would have hoped this morning. In the 50 free we had our first point scorer in Taryn (Collura), but she was four-hundredths of a second away from making the A final. Alex Bilunas was also four-hundredths of a second away from scoring for us, so that was a little bit of bad luck. We're just going to keep plugging away and trying to get more girls into scoring heats the rest of the meet, and we're looking forward to our session tonight."
The Big Ten Championship's third session, including the finals of Thursday morning's events, the one-meter dive and the 200-yard freestyle relay, will take place tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. Check back in to Huskers.com and follow @HuskerSwim on Twitter for updates.