Chicago, IL - On the night celebrating the careers of Illinois Tech Swimming & Diving seniors, both the men and women walked away with wins against Eureka College. It was the first for the women this season.
The night began with a tribute to seniors Abby Maze, Felipe Bergh, Zhefu Chen, Joe Lakner, Chris Zhang, and Luke Strenski. Also in attendance were eight IIT professors for teacher appreciation night. "It was great to see such support for the team from the faculty and staff," commented head coach Eric Bugby. "Our student-athletes are students first and it's because of these professors that I am able to coach the team." Also acknowledged were the Swimming & Diving student-athletes who are members of IIT's Leadership Academy: Billy Bafia, Joe Valio, and Yoni Pruzansky.
The women fought hard the entire meet including three wins from sophomore Nicole Frantz in the 200 and 500 yard freestyles as well as the 200 yard IM and two wins from freshmen Emily Fusilero in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles.
The women trailed Eureka by 16 points after the 50 free and nine points after the 100 yard butterfly. Frantz pulled the Hawks even with a win in the IM, which left the ladies tied going into the final event: the 200 yard freestyle relay. Captain Abby Maze led things off, followed by Fusilero, Frantz, and then it all came down to junior Maria Behrens. Behrens had a slight lead at the 25 and eventually held on for the win and sealed the meet for the women by out-touching Eureka by seven tenths of a second. "This was huge for our women," added Bugby. "Due to injuries and other circumstances, our women have been down all year, but never beaten. They came together on the final relay and with Maria finishing hard into the wall, the entire building erupted. You swim faster for your teammates and that's exactly what happened tonight."
More impressive than a win for the Scarlet Hawks were the multiple best times. "It's important to be swimming fast this time of year. Racing, speed work, and doing both with fatigue; it's all critical to what we are trying to accomplish at the end of the season. I am proud of our team for being able to post lifetime best times before we rest," said Bugby. Behrens swam best times in her 100 yard backstroke and 50 yard freestyle in the 200 yard freestyle relay.