By David Duecker
The meet started off recognizing the seniors with a precision on the bulkhead. It was fitting recognition, but it wasn't the only acknowledgement that some received tonight as six of the 11 events were won by individuals with nothing to lose in what will be their final swim at the collegiate level.
Things started off with the womens 1650 featuring two distance seniors – Deanna Degrand and Danielle Wenger. Wenger, the dominant force for distance swimming in the Horizon League for the last three years, winning the 1000 and 1650 at each championship, had been held winless so far this meet. Going for a fourth straight 1000 title, she was spoiled by Deanna DeGrand last Thursday night. Wenger responded this evening though and set the pace early holding her stroke and showed her strength and endurance for all 16:47.45 touching first. DeGrand finished a solid second at 17:06.77 with DeGrand's teammate Melissa Killpatrick touching third at 17:13.87.
The mens mile showcased Mark DeSwardt in his third conference championship which ended with him capping off another thrree individual title weekend. He led the field through the entire race to touch first at 15:23.93. DeSwardt had one the 1000 on Thusday and the 500 on Friday.
Clair Martin of Illinois Chicago came into tonight with the top seed from this morning, breaking a pool record, but she would be facing off with senior Krystyna Wieczerak from Wright State, the current conference record holder. Immediately Wieczerak set the tone and led by a second all through the race till really the final 25 yards where Martin would make a push. It wasnt enough though as Wieczerak finished strong and finished with a time 2:00.11 out touching Martin by 0.30s. This was Wieczerak's third straight championship win in the event and she also set a new pool record, eclipsing Martin's mark that was set in the morning.
In the mens 200 back Sam Niessen stole the show. The sophomore stole the show, leading early and never looking back, taking the title by over 1.5 seconds. Cleveland State's, Al Shillito, finished second.
As for points for the team championship – Green Bay had 5 swimmers in the event to earn a total of 55 points and extended its lead over Milwaukee to 97.5. For the men, Milwaukee had four in the A-final which led to scoring 62 points for the event. This propelled the Panther team to a lead of 59.5, the most separation yet in the meet.
In 100 free, Carys Behn of Cleveland State upset Alyssa Danielson of Green Bay by winning the event in conference and pool record fashion. Behn used her back half speed and endurance, something she has done all weekend, by bringing her last 50 home in 25.87 compared to Danielson's 26.53. This was Behn's third individual win for the meet, winning the 500 free and 200 free earlier.
The men's 100 free featured top sprinters Hermanus Botha, Jake Kalinowski, and Brian Anderson. For the first 50, it appeared that Berry Thompson of Cleveland State would upset them all as he was out first at the 50, but Anderson brought it back strong, coming of the turn with 25 to go taking the top spot. University Wisconsin Milwaukee had three swimmers in the A-final but Illinois Chicago placed three in the A and two in the B final to close the gap slightly - 683 to 635, Milwaukee.
For the 200 breaststroke, Emily McClellan already set a conference record and pool record in the morning prelims, and lowered it tonight. While not as quick as this morning, McClellan second half speed was faster and lowered her record by 0.83 to 2:12.06. There was a three way tie for second as McClellan's teammate Sarah Wardecke, Greeen Bay's Amy Burback, and Wright State's Hannah Jones all followed behind McClellan finishing at 2:18.45. Even with Milwaukee women placing first and tied for second, they were unable to make any significant dent into Green Bay's lead with the score 710.5 to 632.
Deni Gesparian had a come from behind race to win the 200 breast. He finished second last year but won in 2008 and 2009.
The 200 fly was next and on the womens side it appeared to be a race between Melanie Waszak of Chicago Illinois and Joanna Olsson of Cleveland State with the top two times from this morning by over two seconds. It played out that way as they were dead even at the 150 mark. Waszak finished just slightly faster and took the title.
In a highly contested mens 200 fly race, teammates from Illinois Chicago seniors Steve Yemm, Andrew Schmitt, and Evan Dunn had the best times from the morning. They continued their dominance with the top three finishes with Steve Yemm winning in a new conference record.
By the end of the 200 fly Green Bay and Milwaukee already had solidified their spots as conference champs.
Three-meter diving was won by Daniel Pogue from Green Bay. He finished the weekend with both diving titles.
The final race for the meet was the 400 free relay – always a thriller. Cleveland State womens set another conference record. This was the fourth conference record set for Cleveland State women's relay. Junior Carys Behn, capped off a fine conference meet with a perfect seven for seven, winning every event she participated in.
For the men, UIC come into the lead during the second leg and did not relinquish their position all the way to the end. Wright State finished second and Milwaukee finished third.
A very exciting conference championship here in Cleveland. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay women win their seventh championship in a row and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee win their second in a row. All together 18 conference records were set along with 12 pool records. Some very fast swimming for the conference and respectable times. The Horizon League Championship was very competitive this year and look forward to continuing that with talented young swimmers aiming to be contenders in years come.