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Irish float past Panthers, Spartans

Eric Retter | Monday, November 15, 2004

Two weeks after a double disappointment against Arizona State and Purdue, the No. 24 Irish reversed their fortunes at the Rolfs Aquatic Center on Friday. The Irish easily triumphed over Pittsburgh and Michigan State, defeating them by scores of 172-128 and 199-101, respectively.

Irish coach Bailey Weathers was satisfied with the way his team performed.

“We did pretty well, we won a lot of events and the kids competed hard, so things looked good from our end,” he said.

The Irish took control with the first event and never looked back, winning the 200-meter relay to start the meet and win 10 of 16 events overall. The team of freshman Caroline Johnson, sophomore Jessica Stephens, junior Christel Bouvron and sophomore Rebecca Grove finished with a time of 1 minute, 46.01 seconds beating their nearest competitor by more than half a second.

Stephens and Bouvron had a successful evening, each capturing two individual titles as well to go with their relay success. Stephens won both the 200-meter individual medley as well as the 200-meter breaststroke, dominating the latter with a career-best 2:18:31 and finishing more than four seconds faster than second place. Stephens just missed the breastroke sweep, losing in the 100 by 0.08 seconds. Bouvron swept the butterfly events, winning both the 100 and 200-meter events by considerable margins. Senior diver Meghan Perry-Eaton was virtually unchallenged on Friday night, dominating both the 1 and 3-meter diving competitions. After six events this season, Perry-Eaton has five victories already under her belt.

The trio of Stephens, Bouvron and Perry-Eaton took part in seven of the Irish’s 10 victories.

“I’m real pleased [with the way they performed],” Weathers said.

Outside of the contributions of those three, the Irish showed plenty of strength Friday. Sophomore Ellen Johnson had one victory and two second-place finishes on her own, as well as a win as part of the 400-meter freestyle relay. Johnson won the 200-meter freestyle, and placed second in the 200-meter backstroke and 500 freestyle.

In the 400-meter relay, Johnson led off and was followed by senior Katie Eckholt and freshman Caroline Johnson, with Rebecca Grove again anchoring a winning relay team.

Though he expected his swimmers to be successful, Weathers was somewhat surprised by the team’s domination in its strong events like middle distance butterfly and backstroke.

“I thought we could [do as well as we did in those events,] but I knew [our swimmers] really had to race well, and they did that,” he said.