Dec. 9, 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Kate Thornton turned in a spectacular performance on Saturday afternoon in the Zesiger Center pool, as the senior was a part of three of MIT's four victories. The El Cajon, Calif. native also turned in a time of 17:47.99 in the 1650-yard freestyle, leaving her just three seconds off the NCAA "B" cut. Her efforts were enough to propel Tech past New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) rival Smith College, 228-72, but her heroics fell just short of earning the Cardinal and Gray a double victory, as the hosts fell to another NEWMAC foe, Wheaton College, 151-148.
Following the afternoon split, the Engineers now stand at 4-1 (3-1 NEWMAC), while Smith -which fell to Wheaton - drops to 1-4-1 (0-3 NEWMAC) and the Lyons improve to 7-2 (5-1 NEWMAC).
Entering the final event of the afternoon - the 200-yard freestyle relay - the Engineers needed a 1-2 finish to overcome their deficit against Wheaton. In a tactical move, head coach Dawn Gerken split up her "A" and "B" combos, and the shuffle nearly paid off. The "A" team of Stephanie Sidelko, Priya Parayanthal, Ashley Pinchinat and Thornton touched the wall with a first place time of 1:41.75, but the "B" team of Star Simpson, Sarah King, Jackee Nowicke and Jessica Harpole placed third, under two seconds off the second place time.
In addition to her victory in the 1650-yard freestyle, Thornton picked up maximum points in the 500-yard freestyle with a winning time of 5:11.93.
Sophomore Nicole O'Keeffe, who turned in a second-place finish in the 1650-yard freestyle, won the 200-yard individual medley with a college-best 2:16.71. She also clocked a great final 50 yards in the 200-yard breaststroke, nearly making up a two-second deficit.
Junior Annika Larsson swam to a college-best in the 100-yard fly, while Simpson and much of the 200-yard freestyle relay teams turned in season-bests.
Gerken had plenty of praise for her team, noting that "the women swam with a lot of heart but came up a few tenths short. After an intense academic week, I thought the team swam with intensity and desire. We are headed to Puerto Rico to train for nine days in January and you can bet on both our men's and women's teams being in the hunt for a NEWMAC Championship title and top 15 NCAA finishes," she added.
The Engineers now have over a month before returning to dual meet action. On Saturday, Jan. 13, Tech will travel to Waltham, Mass. to take on Brandeis University at 1:00 p.m. Smith will return to action that very same day, when it will host Wellesley College at 1:00 p.m., while the Lyons will host Coast Guard on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 1:00 p.m.