Jan. 16, 2012
By John Lock
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois women's swimming and diving team picked up nine wins by five swimmers and won a dual meet with Illinois, 151.5-147.5.
"There's no telling how huge this win is for us," head coach Rick Walker said. "They're U of I, a Big Ten school; everyone knows them. Now, I think we've shown that everyone should know us."
Four Salukis had two individual wins on the day. Pamela Benitez, in just her second event for SIU, won the 100 and 200-yard freestyle. Kirsten Groome won the 500 and 1,000 freestyle; Kristin Geppert won the 100 and 200 breaststroke; and Isabela Castro won the 100 and 200 butterfly. In the last individual event of the meet, freshman Hannah Pinion won the 400 individual medley.
"That's what we've been looking for," Walker said. "To have those people at the top is huge. It's important not to overlook the divers, too. We finished two-three on one board and two-five on another, and Illinois is just an incredible diving team. The divers were huge."
In the first race of the day, the 200 medley relay, Pamela Benitez nearly brought SIU a victory. Trailing by more than a length at the start of her leg, Benitez lost by just 15 hundredths of a second.
Kirsten Groome pulled off SIU's first win of the day by dominating the 1,000-yard freestyle from beginning to end. She came in eight seconds ahead of teammate Jennifer Kwok, who finished second. Kwok finished nine seconds ahead of the fastest Illinois swimmer, Kayla Klugopolski.
Southern swept the top two spots in the third race of the day, as well. Pamela Benitez, racing in her second event for the Salukis, won the 200 freestyle, finishing just ahead of teammate Jill Weckbach. Rachael Barry came in fifth.
In the 100 backstroke, Hannah Pinion continued her strong freshman campaign, taking second behind Illinois' Jessi Holz.
In the 100 breaststroke, senior Kristin Geppert took home her first win of the season and SIU took three of the top five spots. Holly Johnson finished in third, and Susan Minkel tied Illinois' Erin Rodriguez for fourth.
In the 200-yard butterfly, Isabela Castro won the fourth event for the Salukis in the first six. Castro won the 100-yard butterfly, as well, marking her first two-win meet of the season.
In the 200-yard backstroke, Hannah Pinion finished second with a time of 2:07.20. Newcomer Marcella Otto came in fifth overall.
The Salukis ended strong, winning the last four individual swimming events. Kristin Geppert took the 200 breaststroke crown to sweep the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Kirsten Groome won the 500 freestyle, marking the second time this season she has swept the 500 and 1,000 freestyle. Isabella Castro took the 100-yard butterfly, marking another sweep, this one or the 100 and 200 butterfly. Hannah Pinion won the second event of her career and her first 400 IM to close out the individual swimming events.
The men join the women to host Washington (Mo.) on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Edward J. Shea Natatorium. The meet will start at 10 a.m., and admission will be free.