SPORTS

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January 18, 2011

Maroons Easily Capture Chicago Invitational

Men’s and women’s swimming and diving pummeled the competition at the Chicago Invitational at Ratner this weekend, with each of Chicago's teams scoring over a thousand points in their meets.

The men won their half with 1,036 points, followed by Lincoln with 709, Calvin with 624.5, and cross-town rival Illinois Tech with 567.5

Chicago's women ended up with a whopping 1,251 points. Calvin, the second-place finisher, scored 942.

Despite the absence of serious competition, the invite provided a chance for the Maroons to reap the rewards of a tough winter training trip. Fourth-year breaststroker Ed Wagner felt optimistic following the training trip.

“We are focused on maintaining a high level of intensity in practice for a few more weeks, Wagner said. The second half of the season is easier to handle, knowing that our toughest training is behind us.

Wagner finished third in the 200-yard breaststroke, half a second behind third-year Nic Santoro, whose time of 2:13.41 edged out second-place Stephen Kraft of Calvin for the win. Wagner noted that winning close races demonstrates the mental toughness impressed on them by fifth-year head coach Jason Weber.

“The 200 breast was an exciting and exhausting endurance test, but [Weber] has imbued a never-give-up mindset into the program that I believe gives us an edge,” Wagner said.

First-year Eric Hallman had stellar performances throughout the weekend, winning the 200-yard IM, 400-yard IM and 200-yard butterfly (1:57.45). Hallman’s classmate Eamon Ford won the mile swim with a time of 17:03.80.

Ford noted the team’s excitement and concurred with Wagner on Chicago’s second half improvements.

“I definitely feel stronger and faster since training trip. Our team has seen some major improvements because of it,” Ford said.

Chicago also won the 400-yard medley relay (3:33.10), comprised of Wagner, Hallman, second-year Wade Gong and third-year Marius Aleska, and the 800-yard freestyle relay (7:20.50) that included Hallman, Ford, second-year Denver Barrows and fourth-year Dani Nichols.

On the women’s side, first-year phenom Vivian Yuen captured three victories for Chicago in the 200-yard IM, 400-yard IM, and 200-yard backstroke. Perennially clutch fourth-year Ellie Elgamal secured titles in the weekend’s two butterfly events, notably finishing a full two and a half seconds ahead of the other competitors in the 200-yard fly.

Three relay wins bolstered Chicago’s morale and their margin of victory. Elgamal, Levens, and Taylor were joined by first-year Karen Chen, winning the 400-yard medley relay. Levens and Taylor along with second-years Andrea McPike and Grete Grubelich took top honors in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Chicago team of second-years Katherine Crain and Joyce Du, third-year Jacqueline Trudeau, and Taylor finished first in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

The Chicago women benefited from their talented divers over the weekend as well. Second-year Becky Schmidt won the one-meter and three-meter dives, and secured NCAA B cuts in both events.

“The divers have been progressing fearlessly through the season by throwing new, harder dives and showing improvements every meet,” Schmidt said.

All in all, the weekend’s strong showing for Chicago augurs a much improved second-half season from both teams. The Maroons will travel to UW–Milwaukee this Saturday for a dual meet against the D-I Panthers.

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