UNI cruises to wins in home opener

JOEL WAUTERS, Sports Editor | [email protected]

All the cylinders were firing on Saturday afternoon for the Panthers as the UNI swimming and diving team hosted the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Western Illinois Leathernecks and Valparaiso Crusaders at the Glen F. Henry Pool in the Wellness and Recreation Center.

The Panthers opened up the first of three home meets this season. Coming off strong from Nebraska-Omaha and Nebraska a week earlier, the purple and gold looked to continue their momentum with a home crowd cheering them on. UNI steamrolled over all three opponents, defeating the Jackrabbits 221-77, the Leathernecks 223-67 and the Crusaders 253-40.

The 200-yard medley relay team of Katie Taylor, Moriah Ross, Crystal Florman and Lauren Havertape kicked the afternoon off, winning the relay with a time of 1:45.82, out touching Western Illinois by six seconds to take the win. Junior Kylie Engstrom dominated the 1000 freestyle with a 10:38.89 as junior Jordan McCullough took the 200 freestyle in 1:57.86.

Taylor, an all-conference swimmer from a year ago, claimed first place in the 100 backstroke and teammate Madison Rinaldi finished in second with a time of 59.66. In the fast paced 100 freestyle, Taylor, Florman and Jenna Willer took the top three positions with Taylor claiming the number one spot with a 51.70.

Rinaldi and McCullough finished first and second respectively in the 200-backstroke, with Rinaldi swimming a 2:09.31, while her teammate finished with a time of 2:11.40. Junior Kelsey Ostrowski and freshman Rachelle Houlette swam strong in the 200-butterfly, finishing both within three-tenths of a second of each other to take second and third in the event.

In the diving well, freshman Mary Ferlmann took second in the one-meter springboard scoring 224.10 to lead the Panthers. On the three-meter board, Ferlmann edged out Quincee Simonson of South Dakota State by 10.1 points to claim first for UNI.

Head coach Nick Lakin was very pleased with his team’s performance coming off two meets a week earlier. “The amount of progress the team has made in the last week was evident today,” Lakin said after the meet. “We had solid swims across all events.”

The Panthers will be back in action in the water on Nov. 2-3 in Sioux Falls, SD as they take on the Jackrabbits for the second straight meet, along with the South Dakota Coyotes and St. Cloud State Huskies.