JENISON, Mich. – The Northern Michigan swimming and diving team finished strong on the final day of the 2012 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. The Wildcats had nine top 10 finishes on Saturday (Feb. 11) from the Jenison Aquatics Center and beat out Ashland, Hillsdale, Findlay, Lewis and Lake Erie for a fourth-place finish in the conference. The ‘Cats started the day five points behind Ashland in fifth.
“It was an amazing day!” NMU coach Heidi Voigt said. “I thought fourth was possible heading into the weekend and I’m so excited with how strong we finished.”
Junior Gaby Alzaga had the highlight of the final day with her second-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke. Freshman Emily Bourguignon finished right behind Alzaga in third to set the tone for the Wildcats in the second event of finals. Both swam provisional qualifying times.
“Gaby and Emily really set the stage for everyone else in the 200 back,” Voigt added.
Junior Olga Budiansky also medaled with a third-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke. Freshman Debbi Lawrence was seventh in the race as both swimmers earned provisional times, getting to the podium.
“Olga’s breaststroke was so great,” said Voigt. “Debbi’s been swimming well all weekend. To have both her and Madisen Sechena make it to three finals is great for freshmen.”
Freshman Madisen Sechena finished seventh in the 200-yard butterfly while freshman Taylor Grimm finished 13th out of the consolation round.
Freshman Tara Dowling had a seventh-place finish in the first final, the1650-yard freestyle.
“Tara was phenomenal all weekend,” Voigt said. “It was here second mile ever and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Freshman Emily Brennan (9th) and Aspen McHugh (11th) both raced in the consolation heat of the 200 breaststroke, earning top 15 finishes.
The 400-yard freestyle squad finished fifth in the final event of the championship. Lawrence, sophomore Kelsey Sipple, Dowling and Bourguignon raced in the event.
Freshman Jordan Iverson was 10th in the 1,650 while freshman Kayla Barr was (17th), senior Stephanie Rogaczewski (21st) and sophomore Lindsay Stedman also raced. Freshman Dakota Sechena also swam the 200 back.
Sipple swam the consolation heat of the 100-yard freestyle with a 16th-place finish. Junior Lauren Cockels and freshman Pam Johnson also swam the race.
Senior Jenny Gallagher also competed in the 200 breast in her final swim meet. All seniors were honored before Saturday’s finals.
“It was good to honor our seniors today,” said Voigt. “Both Stephanie and Jenny have been great team leaders for our young team.”
NMU finished seventh at last season’s conference championship. Wayne State won the event on Saturday with 923 points followed by Grand Valley (599.5) and Indianapolis (481.5).
“I’m so proud of everyone,” Voigt added. “I think we have a chance of getting a few swimmers to nationals and now it’s just a waiting game.”
Selections for the NCAA Championship will be held on Feb. 28. This year’s national meet will be held in Mansfield, Texas.
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