Columbus, Ohio— A day after soundly defeating Kentucky, Ohio State split its dual meets with Michigan and West Virginia on Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes won seven events on the day, including both relays.
The 200 medley relay kicked off the day’s events, and in exhilarating fashion. Ohio State’s foursome of Camey Rabold, Rachael Dzierzak, Liz Li, and Annie Jongekrijg overtook the top relay team from Michigan to win the first event of the day. The Buckeyes’ time of 1:39.50 narrowly edged out their rival’s time of 1:39.99; a big reason for that was Li’s 22.56 split being nearly two seconds faster than her Wolverine counterpart (24.43), which helped OSU make up ground that it would not relinquish.
Lindsey Clary followed that up with a second place finish in the 1000 freestyle (9:44.39), breaking her season-best from earlier this season by two seconds, moving her up to fifth among fastest 1000 free times in the nation this year. In the 200 freestyle, Ohio State’s top finisher was Christi DiPaolo with a mark of 1:49.03.
Ohio State got a couple swimmers in the top-four of the 100 backstroke: Zulal Zeren (55.78) placed third and Rabold (55.92) finished fourth for the Buckeyes. OSU gained some ground in the 100 breaststroke, putting three swimmers in the top-four: Amy Bopp (1:02.58), Dzierzak (1:03.20), and Taylor Vargo (1:03.48). The event that followed, the 200 butterfly, came down to two swimmers at the top in Meg Bailey and Michigan’s Astrid Swensen, with Bailey (2:00.39) outpacing her opponent (2:00.66). Amanda McNulty (2:03.15) also won a close battle for third place in that race.
Li sent Ohio State into the break on top, winning the 50 freestyle with a mark of 22.18. Teammates Jongekrijg (23.03) and Macie McNichols (23.27) joined her in the top-four, really helping the Buckeyes gain some ground.
A familiar face was the top Ohio State finisher in the 100 freestyle; Li (49.31) finished second and posted an NCAA provisional time in the process. Zeren would post an NCAA B time for herself in the very next event, the 200 backstroke, her time of 1:59.01 a few seconds behind the winner’s mark of 1:55.38. Adding to the day’s list of close finishes was the 200 breaststroke, where Bopp and Michigan’s Emily Kopas were neck and neck until the very last instant when Kopas (2:14.20) squeaked by Bopp (2:14.46), who joined her other teammates with an NCAA B time.
In the 500 freestyle, Ohio State was able to put four swimmers in the top-six, led by Clary (4:46.65) and Katy Luchansky (4:55.75) and Bailey followed that up with a first place finish in the 100 butterfly (55.01), her second top finish of the afternoon. The Merewether, Australia native was the fastest Ohio State swimmer in her next event as well, the 200 IM; Bailey’s 2:01.59 was good enough for second place.
On the diving boards Ohio State had a successful day. Hannah Thek won both events, meaning the sophomore went a perfect four-for-four this weekend individually. Thek’s scores of 274.80 on the platform and 339.05 on the three-meter paced all comers while Haley Allen’s score of 291.65 was good for third in the three-meter.
Closing out the day’s events was the 400 freestyle relay, which was won by the Ohio State relay team of Jongekrijg, Li, Dzierzak, and McNichols (3:20.01) and ended the meet as it began: with a close finish in a relay event.
“Overall, it was a very solid weekend of racing,” said head coach Bill Dorenkott. “We had a number of season best times across the board and raced tough over two days.”
That tough racing proved invaluable in a few instances over the course of the weekend, notably in the relay events, of which Dorenkott was particularly impressed.
“Our relays were competitive which will lead to good things at the Big Ten’s and NCAA’s. It was great to see us take all four relays over the weekend.”
As the schedule inches closer to the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships, he sees something in his group of swimmers that could mean some very big things are ahead in the coming weeks.
“We are getting closer to becoming an uncommon team,” Dorenkott said. “There is a sincere caring and connection in this group that showed in our spirit and racing."
The Buckeyes still have one dual meet left on their schedule: a Friday evening affair with Wright State on Feb. 5. That meet will also serve as the team’s Senior Day where the squad’s four seniors- Dzierzak, Jongekrijg, Luchansky, and Rabold- will be honored prior to the meet beginning.