Feb. 20, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS -- A third-place showing in the 800 freestyle relay highlighted the opening night of the Big Ten Championships for Purdue women's swimming and diving Wednesday evening.
Carly Mercer, Rhiannon Sheets, Lauren Gustafson and Allie Davis teamed up to finish the event in a time of 7:08.92, a season-best showing for the Boilers and the third fastest time in program history. Purdue's mark was just over a second shy of an NCAA automatic qualifying A Cut, but was good enough for an NCAA provisional qualifying B Cut.
Mercer's opening split of 1:47.56 represents a new Purdue season-best time in the 200 free and an NCAA provisional qualifying time. Her time also ranks fifth best in program history.
While swimming the anchor leg, Davis out touched the final swimmer for Penn State by five hundredths of a second. That represented the tightest finish of any two teams in the event Wednesday. Sheets' split of 1:44.63 was the fastest of the four for the Boilers. There were only two splits faster than Sheets' among all swimmers in the entire event - Indiana's Haley Lips (1:44.33) and Minnnesota's Kiera Janzen (1:44.24). The Hoosiers (6:59.48) and Gophers (7:01.27) finished 1-2, both posting NCAA automatic qualifying times.
The Boilermakers improved on their previous season-best time from the Purdue Invitational in November by more than seven seconds. It was also more than one second faster than the Boilers' time from a year ago. Only the 2011 and 2010 800 free relay quartets had faster times in program history.
The 200 medley relay team of Amy Katz, Emily McIlrath, Kylie Vogel and Gustafson recorded a personal season-best time of 1:40.47 as a foursome, but was not able to eclipse the team's top mark of the season (1:39.28) from the Purdue Invitational. The Boilermakers finished ninth in the event. The top six teams in the event all posted NCAA automatic qualifying times.
An exhibition competition of synchronized 3-meter diving was also held Wednesday evening but results were not made available.
The Big Ten Championships continue Thursday with preliminaries at noon ET and finals at 7:30 p.m. ET
* -- New Purdue Season-Best Time
^ -- New Personal Season-Best Time
(B) - NCAA Provisional Qualifying Time
800 Free Relay
Mercer, Sheets, Gustafson & Davis, 7:08.92* (B) - Finished 3rd (32 Team Points)
Third Fastest Time in Program History
Mercer's opening split of 1:47.56 (B) is a Purdue season-best time in the 200 free
200 Medley Relay
Katz, McIlrath, Vogel & Gustafson, 1:40.47^ - Finished 9th (18 Team Points)
Opening Night Team Scores
T-1. #12 Minnesota, 74
T-1. #13 Indiana, 74
3. #24 Penn State, 58
T-4. #21 Michigan, 56
T-4. #20 Ohio State, 56
6. #17 Wisconsin, 54
7. Purdue, 50
8. Nebraska, 42
T-9. Northwestern, 36
T-9. Iowa, 36
T-11. Illinois, 22
T-11. Michigan State, 22