Smith, Morris set new Eastern records at conference tournament

Sean Hastings, Staff Reporter

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Earlier in the season, freshman Amy Smith set a goal for herself, and it was to break the Eastern 100-yard backstroke record.

Smith did just that setting the record for the women’s 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.86 seconds at the Summit League Conference tournament on the campus of Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

She advanced to the “A” Finals where she placed seventh.

Smith said she did not even know she had done it, because the girl in the lane next to her shared the same last name as her.

“Once I realized though I was just so happy, because it had been my goal since the very beginning,” Smith said. “It was a great feeling to look up and see all my teammates cheering and to see I finally accomplished the goal that had been on my mind since the first meet.”

Junior Kaylee Morris also set a record for the Panthers in the women’s 50 freestyle with a time of 23.81.

The men and women’s swim teams finished their conference tournaments in sixth and seventh place, respectively

The men finished the conference meet with a score of 235. University of Denver won with a score of 1099.

The women finished with a score of 165, and the University of Denver also won with a score of 996.

Despite the last place finishes, the Panthers set a couple records for Eastern Illinois.

To go along with the records being set, the Panthers also had lots of top 10 times.

Freshman Steve Fishman made a top-10 improvement in the men’s 200 freestyle. Fishman now has the third-fastest time in Eastern history with a time of 1.47.17.

Sophomore’s Brogan O’Doherty and Carolyn Belford both moved to fourth on the lists with times of 50.77 and 4:40.23 times in the 100-yard backstroke and 400 individual medley events.

Freshman Danielle DiMatteo (100 butterfly-59.54), junior Joann Wakefield (100 breaststroke-1:07.57), junior Kelsey Ferguson (400 individual medley-4:41.07), freshman Brandon Robbins (100 breaststroke/58.57), all moved to number five in the record books.

Freshmen Matt Jacobs, and Melissa Hepler, Steve Truchon, and Niki Beringer also are now in the top ten.

Head coach Jacqueline Michalski said she was very pleased with how Truchon swam.

“I’m very impressed by freshman Steven Truchon who in was in and out of the pool all year sick,” she said. “He has really stepped up huge this weekend, and posted some amazing times.”

The meet started Wednesday with the relay events, and Michalski said junior Bridgette Bowen set the tone.

“Bridgette Bowen set the tone for the meet day one with huge time drops,” Michalski said. “She has been an inspiration to the team and been a great spokeswoman.”

The Panthers finished sixth in the events they qualified for. Those races were the men’s 200-yard medley relay, and the women’s 800 freestyle relay.

To start day two, the men and women had fourth and sixth place finishes with times of 1.24.11 and 1:37.23, respectively.

Besides Morris’ record-breaking swim in the 50 freestyle, and sophomore Shane Witzki had a notable race in the men’s 50 freestyle. Witzki finished seventh with a time of 21.09.

Day three’s highlight consisted of Smith’s record breaking swim, and also O’Doherty’s top 10 finish, but the relay team of O’Doherty, Jacobs, Truchon and Witzki was also able to score points for the Panthers.

The final day consisted of the 200-yard stroke events and the 100-yard freestyle.

To go along with the top 10 record finishes, freshman Ashton Pollick finished 11th in the “B” Finals with a time of 1:54.93.

The Panthers had a solid end to their season, and for seniors Katie VanHootegem and Nikki Peck, this was their final time swimming as Panthers.

The younger swimmers will take what they have learned this year and bring into the 2015-2016 season and will keep improving.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].