U women win first-ever Big Ten title

David La

After the first day of the Big Ten women’s swimming and diving championships, a placard with the name “Minnesota” hung atop the leader board.
Event officials had to do some juggling of other teams in the standings, but they would not be required to touch the leader for the remainder of the meet.
Nobody else could unseat Minnesota, as the Gophers were crowned Big Ten champions for the first time ever on Saturday. Minnesota parlayed a solid team effort and sparkling individual performances into a team-record 668.5 points.
“It took every single person, it wasn’t just a few standouts,” a barely audible Beth Shimanski said. “Every point we needed, we got.
The senior co-captain lost her voice cheering on her team, which used its overwhelming depth to unseat 12-time defending champion Michigan. The Wolverines finished second with 495.5 points, followed by Northwestern with 451.5.
“To get six (scorers) in an event (200 individual medley), five in an event (200 backstroke), things like that: That’s the power in numbers,” coach Jean Freeman said.
Freeman was voted Coach of the Championship, but more importantly removed a certain maize-and-blue monkey from her back. Freeman won her first conference championship in her 26th year of coaching at Minnesota.
“Once we get that (Big Ten champions) sign up, a weight will be off my shoulders.”
Juniors Terri Jashinsky and Jenny Hennen scored their first-ever championship victories in the 100- and 200-butterfly events, respectively. Both victories came at the expense of Wisconsin’s Gina Panighetti, the top seed in both events.
“We were head-to-head the whole way, and I just went after it the last 25 (yards),” said Hennen. “When I touched the wall I heard the crowd and that was the first sign that (I’d won).”
“I was very surprised,” Jashinsky said of her win. “But I knew it was something I could do.”
In what was the low-point of the Gophers triumphant weekend, senior co-captain T.D. Rowe was not able to recapture the form that made her a Big Ten Champion in the 1- and 3-meter diving boards in 1998.
Although she lost the chance at individual accolades, Rowe was content to bask in the team’s glory.
“I’m glad the team won,” Rowe said. “There’s more people to share it with.”
Defending champion Michigan was anything but sharing in the 100-yard freestyle event, as the Wolverines recorded the only event sweep of the weekend by taking the top-three placings.
Ellen Stonebraker of Wisconsin turned in an impressive trifecta of her own, winning the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyle events. She became only the second athlete in the history of the championships to win all three events.
In the end, however it was first-time champion Minnesota who climbed up to the three-meter diving platform and crowded around the leader board.
Though they had been surrounded by familiar sights all weekend, Minnesota seemed to be savoring their first view from the top.
Big Ten women’s swimming
and diving championships
Team order of finish:
Minnesota 668.5
Michigan 495.5
Northwestern 451.5
Wisconsin 374
Penn State 368.5
Illinois 334
Iowa 275
Indiana 234
Ohio State 189
Purdue 159
Michigan St. 152