Champaign, Illinois: The Fighting Illini Swim and Dive team fought hard in dual meet competition with Big Ten rival Nebraska, but fell 178-122 to the Cornhuskers. Despite the loss, the Orange and Blue took 6 first places, broke a pool record and set an attendance record for the ARC for Senior Day.
head coach Sue Novitsky paid tribute to the 9 seniors who were honored by saying, “They have fought and worked hard for us for four years in the pool and also in the classroom. We have two school record holders in this graduating class and I have always been able to trust on them to stand up for the team.” Our 9 seniors, Emily Bolger, Abby Cabush, Maddy Crosby, Kaylee Heimes, Caroline Hippen, Sydney Kennedy, Abby Maarten, Lauren Partridge, and Taylor Shegos, are all set to graduate in May 2022 and have committed all four years of collegiate swimming to the Illinois program.
Despite the Cornhuskers’ loss on Saturday, head coach Sue Novitsky keeps looking up: “I don’t define our team by wins or losses, there have been a lot of improvements made today and in the big picture it comes down to how you define success.” The Fighting Illini were knocked out by Nebraska on a score of 178-122, with Nebraska winning both diving events and Illinois getting the two relay events.
The Fighting Illini were led by senior Abby Cabush, sophomore Laurel Bludgeand sophomore How to get to Bognar. Cabush finished first in 3 of her 4 events and was second in the others. Cabush also broke the ARC Pool record in the 200 freestyle, with a time of 1:48.68, and also took first place in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.37. Bludgen contributed to relay victories in both the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, and took first place in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.88. Bognar took the podium in all three of her appearances, first in the 400 individual medley (4:23.49), and second in the 1650 freestyle (17:13.85) and the 200 butterfly (2:04, 09).
ON THE PLATE
Of the four divers competing for Illinois, Taylor Michael was the only one to finish on the podium and he did so in both diving events with a score of 256.88 in the one meter and a personal best of 312.90 in the three meters. Brooke Michael also saw a good day on the boards, breaking her personal best in the 3-meter for the second time in a row with a score of 296.93. Senior Maddy Crosby finished a stellar career with the ARC with a personal best of her own with 278.25 in the 3-meter.
The Orange and Blue travel to West Lafayette to face Purdue in their final double encounter for the Big Ten Championships. The competition kicks off at 10 a.m. CT at the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center.