Ahlin, Whitaker Earn First Place Finishes at Minnesota Grand Prix

Nov. 13, 2009

Minneapolis - Talor Whitaker was one of two Cougar athletes to win individual events at the first day of the Minnesota Grand Prix, Friday. Whitaker finished first in the 200 individual medley, beating out world-record holder Rebecca Soni. Her time of 2:00.89 beat her own school record and met the NCAA Consideration time standard.

Michaela Ahlin was the other Cougar to finish atop the podium stand, finishing first in the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 54.11. The time also met the NCAA Consideration time standard. Ahlin was not the only Cougar to do well in the event, Whitaker finished close behind in third place, (55.66) while sophomore Melissa Bogert earned five points for her 12th-place finish (57.26).

Six other Cougars made it to the finals session Friday, including Jessie Craig and Shawna Keller who finished ninth and 10th in the 100 breaststroke, respectively. Keller also qualified for the 200 IM where she took 12th, with a time of 2:07.05.

Newcomer Shelbi Luchini qualified in two events as well. The Rodeo, Calif., native finished 17th in the 200 IM, setting a personal best of 2:06.85, missing 10th place on the Cougar all-time list by three tenths of a second. Luchini also made it to the 200 freestyle finals where she was disqualified.

Junior Jennifer Dean and Sophomore Emma Neely also qualified for the finals of the 200 freestyle. Dean finished in 11th at 1:51.66, while Neely took 17th.

The 800 free relay teams found success Friday as well. The 'A' team, consisting of Rugile Mileisyte, Dean, Neely and Ahlin finished second. The 'B' team, consisting of Keller, Jenna Bekker, Whitaker and Luchini finished fourth.

'The team did a great job of just going for their races from the beginning,' said WSU Head Coach Erica Quam. Shawna and Jessie started things off in the 100 breaststroke, going faster than they were in January of last season. Everyone was as fast or faster than they were this morning, moved up from where they were seeded this morning, and in some cases, made huge strides.'

The meet will continue Saturday with preliminary events at 7 a.m. PT, and final events at 4 p.m.

'I'm hoping that we get ourselves together tomorrow morning to carry that momentum from finals into prelims, and be aggressive as we were tonight. We have to keep practicing swimming fast in the morning so we can have swimmers back at night. If we don't go fast enough in the morning, we won't get the opportunity to swim at night and go faster like we showed tonight,' said Quam.

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