The Big Ten Championships for the women have wrapped up and MSU is walking away with 65 points and a few new records.
The Spartans ended up in last place, edged out by Illinois by just a few points, but head coach Matt Gianiodis said his girls did a great job and finished the conference meet strong.
Senior Cristee Cordes took second place in prelims in three-meter diving with a score of 362.80, which ended up beating Yu Zhou, an Olympic hopeful from Minnesota, according to Gianiodis. Cordes came back Friday evening for finals and completed with a score of 323.85 to end up in sixth place.
Junior Elizabeth Brown swam a 1:59.55 in the 200 fly, getting herself in 19th place after finals and giving her school a brand new record.
Finishing right behind her teammate in the 200 fly was senior Hannah Pugh, who posted a 2:00.43 in finals, which ended up being the second-fastest time in school history.
“For someone like Hannah Pugh to swim last night, and on her last ever swim do a best time and be able to retire on a best time is pretty cool,” Gianiodis said.
The Big Ten squad for MSU was made up of nine freshmen, making it a young group for the competitive swim meet. But once the swimmers “got their feet wet” and got comfortable with the hyped-up environment at OSU’s pool, Gianiodis said, the group came out with even faster swims.
On the first night of competition, MSU snatched up a new pool record time of 1:41.12 in the 200 medley relay. The relay was led by freshman Madison Nowak, who swam a backstroke split of 26.29, and was followed by senior Shelby Lacy, sophomore Sarah Love and junior Emily Parsons.
Nowak is also a walk-on swimmer who happened to be a part of MSU history when her 200 medley relay competed in the championship heat Wednesday night. That is something that has not happened for the Spartans in almost a couple decades, as it is rare for MSU to make the “big” heat at such a competitive meet, Gianiodis said.
Competition in the Big Ten swim arena is pretty fierce. Minnesota won its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship this year, beating out nationally ranked programs like Wisconsin and OSU. Considering the competitive atmosphere, Gianiodis thought his young and old swimmers did well to take advantage of the high energy.
Ending up in last place was not MSU’s goal, especially since the women’s team beat out Illinois last year for the 2014 Big Ten Championships. Despite the end score, the team is happy walking away from the meet with new records and strong swims.
“I felt like we finished a lot stronger than we began,” Gianiodis said. “I thought our girls did a great job.”
This week, the Spartans travel to Iowa for the men’s Big Ten Championships.
Julie Angell is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: Max King/Impact Sports