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Spartans, Panthers present weekend challenge

Eric Retter | Friday, November 12, 2004

The Irish are gearing up to get back in the pool this weekend.

The team, who fell twice last weekend in a triple meet to top 25 teams Arizona State and Purdue, is trying to get back on track tonight against Michigan State and Pittsburgh at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Coming into the event, the Irish are 1-2, while Michigan State and Pittsburgh are 0-2 and 2-0, respectively.

Despite last week’s disappointments, coach Bailey Weathers is confident in his team.

“Traditionally, we’ve beaten both teams,” he said.

However, Weathers was quick to point out that his team must perform to its capabilities to get the job done.

“They [Pittsburgh and Michigan State] have given us trouble in the past,” Weathers said. “We were behind in both dual meets against them [at one point].”

According to Weathers, the Irish will face their toughest challenges in the breaststroke and the sprint events. The field in the breaststroke will be led by Michigan State junior Courtney Ellabarger, who won both the 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes in the Spartans’ last match against No. 16 Michigan.

Rather than those events, Weathers feels his team’s strengths lie in the butterfly, backstroke and middle distances, as well as diving events. Based on the results against Arizona State and Purdue last weekend, the Irish have reason to be confident.

They dominated backstroke, with sophomore Rebecca Grove winning and freshman Caroline Johnson coming in third in the 100-meters, while sophomores Ellen Johnson and Ann Barton finished first and second in the 200 meters, respectively.

Barton also finished runner-up to a teammate in the 400 individual medley, an event sophomore Jessica Stephens won.

The performance of this talented group of young swimmers will go a long way to determine the Irish’s fate this weekend.

Additionally, senior Meghan Perry-Eaton will be a strength on the diving board. A week ago, she swept the diving events, winning both the 1 and 3-meter board events.

However, the divers she will face Friday have shared similar success this season. Freshman Danielle Williams from Michigan State and junior Coleen Kristobak of Pittsburgh both swept the diving events in their last event.

As the team prepares for competition, Weathers will likely reiterate they cannot just show up and expect to win.

“This will certainly not be a walk through,” Weathers said.