Feb. 16, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill.--With dual meets complete and the regular season closed, Northwestern has its sights set on racing fast and touching first Feb. 19-22 at the 2014 Big Ten Championships hosted by Minnesota in Minneapolis.
While the Wildcats compete to win in duals, each segment of the year is mapped out with one goal in mind: to be at their very best come conference championships time. Now, Northwestern's focus is on climbing the league standings and qualifying as many 'Cats as possible for the NCAA Championships in March.
Northwestern enters the Big Ten Championships with a strong mix of veteran leadership and experience in addition to a young group of freshman who have shined for the Wildcats, giving NU a bright future in the coming years.
Several returning Wildcats know what it takes to succeed at a Big Ten meet, including seniors Erin Sosdian in the freestyle, Becca Soderholm in both individual medleys, the fly and free, Jackie Powell in the freestyles and Cosima Lenz on the diving boards.
NU has a deep and talented freshman class that can make its full force known this week. Backstroke specialist Lacey Locke, already has posted NCAA `B' provisional qualifying time in the 100 and 200 back. Long distance freshman swimming Lauren Abruzzo has posted NCAA `B' provisional qualifying time in the 1,000 and 1,650 free.
Karen Turner in the backstroke has posted impressive times time for the'Cats this season. NU also can see points from distance freestylers Ellen Anderson and Emily Launer. Julianne Kurke leads the way in the breast.
The Big Ten Championships begin on the Univerity of Minnesota's Aquatic Center on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. CT. Thursday, Feb. 20 to Saturday, Feb. 22 features full days of action with prelims each day beginning at 11:00 a.m. CT and the finals at 6:30 p.m.
Event-By-Event Preview of the Wildcats
SPRINT FREESTYLE: Senior Jackie Powell leads Northwestern, posting the `Cats top times in the 50, 100 and 200 free this season. Powell set those times during the TYR Invitation. After missing most of her junior season last year with an injury, a full season of training has her poised to lower her times during the Big Ten Championships. Freshman Annika Winsnes has impressed during her first season in Evanston. Winsnes, who has lived in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore growing up, has posted NU's second fastest times in the 50 and 100 free.
DISTANCE FREESTYLE: Freshman Lauren Abruzzo is making a very impressive impact during her first season at Northwestern. On the season, Abruzzo has posted NU's top times in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free. Her 4:46.11 time in the 500 free at the TYR Invite set a Norris Aquatics pool record, while she swam NCAA `B' cut provisional times in both the 1,000 free and 1,650 free, which broke Northwestern school records as the fastest times recorded by a Wildcat swimmer. Sophomore Ellen Anderson ranks second behind Abruzzo for the fastest times in the 1,000 and 1,650. Anderson, along with senior Erin Sosdian have experience after swimming strong times in last year's Big Ten Championships. This season, Megan Goss, Emily Launer and Megan Purdy have also posted top times for the `Cats in the long distance freestyle events.
BACKSTROKE: Talented newcomer Lacey Locke has followed in the footsteps of current sophomore Karen Turner with top times in the backstroke this season. Locke has posted NCAA `B' cut provisional times in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, swimming in the TYR Invite in addition to the US Winter National Championships in December.. Turner ranks second for NU in the top times in the 100 and 200 backstroke. Freshman Melissa Postoll give the `Cats another strong swimmer in the backstroke, in addition to returning junior Madeleine Klichowski.
BREASTSTROKE: Sophomore Julianne Kurke continues where she left off at this time last season and leads the way for NU in the breaststroke, posting NU's top times on the seaosn in both the 100 and 200 breast. Kurke swam for the `Cats at the US Winter National Championships, where she lowered her times in the events. Senior Megan Goss and freshman Katie Branch have also been solid in the breaststroke throughout the season for Northwestern.
BUTTERFLY: Northwestern's top scoring threats in the butterfly include senior Becca Soderholm, who competed in the events during last year's conference championships and newcomer Ellen Stello. Soderholm posted NU's second fastest time in the 200 fly during the TYR Invite and in January of 2014 cut down her time in the 100 fly, swimming a 57.18 against Iowa. Freshman Lacey Locke competed for the Wildcats in the 100 fly during the TYR Invite as well to post the school's top time in the event during the year.
INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY: Senior Becca Soderholm has posted some of NU's best times in the 200 and 400 individual medleys this season. She swam a NCAA `B' cut provisional time in the 200 at the TYR Invite during the winter. Freshman Lacey Locke also recorded a NCAA `B' cut time while representing Northwestern at the US Winter National Championships in December. Freshman Lauren Abruzzo has also posted strong times in the individual medley for the `Cats this season. The versatile newcomer saw a 4:18.6 in the 400 IM for NU, the school's fastest time on the season, and the third fastest in the 200 IM.
DIVING: Seniors Cosima Lenz, and Mary Kate Campbell are Northwestern's main scoring threats this weekend. Lenz has scored NU's top times in the 1-meter and 10-meter platform, while Mary Kay Campbell scored a 297.83 in the 3-meter against Iowa in her final home dual of her career, the `Cats top score in the 3-meter on the season.
RELAYS: During the US Winter National Championship, Northwestern's 200 medley relay team comprised three freshman and one sophomore with Lacey Locke, Julianne Kurke, Ellen Stello and Melissa Postoll swam an impressive 3:47.46 time. The relay team can also be a threat in the 400 medley relay. NU's best times in the free relays came during the TYR Invite with multiple combinations able to create the key formula to big home a victory.
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