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    Northwestern Primed for Big Ten Championships

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Junior Kassia Shishkoff is seeded in the top-16 in four different events at the Big Ten Championships.
    Junior Kassia Shishkoff is seeded in the top-16 in four different events at the Big Ten Championships.

    Feb. 17, 2009

    Northwestern's Big Ten Championships Notes (PDF Format) Get Acrobat Reader

    2009 Big Ten Championships Official Web Page (with live results)

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Coming off its most successful dual-meet season in the 15-year Jimmy Tierney era, Northwestern enters this weekend's Big Ten Championships Feb. 18-21 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with high hopes for its deepest squad in years.

    The meet begins at 5:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, Feb. 18, with the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay finals in a session that is free to the public. The meat of the meet takes place the following three days with prelims at 10 a.m. CT and finals at 5:30 p.m. CT each day. Diving events will be held at noon CT on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    The Wildcats, ranked No. 23 in the latest CSCAA dual-meet coaches poll, went 10-2 in 2008-09 to mark the first time under Tierney that NU has reached 10 wins in a single season. Northwestern has not lost in the pool since Nov. 13, winning nine duals in a row while also taking first in its own TYR Invitational.

    In a sport where success is determined more by peformance at Championship meets than by dual-meet record, Northwestern now looks to parlay its head-to-head victories into Big Ten and NCAA success. The Wildcats placed fifth at last year's Big Ten meet and 19th at the NCAA Championships, their best placing since 2000.

    Eight different Wildcats have earned top-16 seeds in 10 different individual events at the 2009 Big Ten Championships, led by junior Kassia Shishkoff in the 200 free, 500 free, 200 fly and 400 IM. Junior Emily Wong is a top-10 seed in both the 50 and 100 free races, while freshman Jenny Wilson and junior Hayley Fry each have top-16 seeds in both breaststroke events. Wilson is a top-8 seed in those two races. Stacy Congdon (100 fly), Rachel Rys (200 fly), Genny Szymanski (11th) and Hannah Points (400 IM) also have top-16 seeds for the Wildcats.

    In addition to placing well at the Big Ten Championshps, strong performances are necessary to earn an invitation to the NCAA meet. After sending eight swimmers to the NCAA's a year ago, Northwestern will have to go very low to repeat that feat. The 2008 NCAA Championships were so fast, the NCAA dramatically lowered the qualifying standards required to gain entry into this year's field. The new standards are so low, in fact, that out of 19 swimming events, the `A' automatic qualifying standards in all but five of them are faster than the existing Big Ten Conference record in those events.

    For Northwestern's complete Big Ten Championships notes package, download the .pdf at the top of this page.