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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Cierra Runge

Cierra Runge is questionable this weekend in UW's upcoming meet.

Behind Runge and Kinney, Badgers take home third at Big Ten Championships

With the highly touted recruiting class that head coach Whitney Hite brought in at the beginning of the year, the Wisconsin women’s swim and dive team was expected to finish in the Top 5 at the Big Ten Championships. What was not expected, however, was a third-place finish—the best finish for the Badger women since 2005.

The Big Ten Championships are built around total team performance, and the Badgers got strong contributions from nearly everyone. With a slew of personal best times, school records and hardware, the entire team came home from West Lafayette, Ind., with something to be proud of.

Starting off the meet with the Wednesday relays, UW got right down to business as sophomore Jess Unicomb, junior Marissa Berg, freshman Beata Nelson and senior Chase Kinney took third place in the 200-yard medley relay. As soon as that relay got out of the water, the 800-yard freestyle relay team of redshirt junior Abby Jagdfeld, Unicomb and sophomores Emmy Sehmann and Cierra Runge took runner-up honors with a school record time of 7:00.05, five seconds faster than the previous record set by the same group in December.

On Thursday, Runge, Kinney, Sehmann and senior Danielle Valley stole the show with their impressive finals performances. Runge and Valley finished second and sixth in a loaded 500-yard freestyle field that included Runge’s former training partner, G Ryan of Michigan. The race was the first of two intense battles between Runge and Ryan, and although Runge was bested by Ryan, her time of 4:37.38 was enough for the Badgers to gain a substantial amount of points.

Kinney and Sehmann went head-to-head in the 50-yard freestyle against another wickedly fast field, and both came out with NCAA B-cut times of 22.14 and 22.33, respectively.

Friday once again belonged to the relays, as the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Sehmann, Kinney, Unicomb and Berg was crowned Big Ten Champion when the four posted an NCAA auto-qualifier time of 1:27.90.

In Friday’s individual events, the Badgers also took home lots of hardware. In the 400 IM, Valley reset the second-oldest school record in the books, taking home third place with a time of 4:08.33. There was a wide variety of other Top 6 finishes for the Badgers as well, including Nelson’s third place showing in the 100-yard backstroke and Runge’s runner-up finish in the 200-yard freestyle.

With the Badgers sitting in fourth after three days of competition behind Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota, Saturday was critical to their chances. Led by Runge’s and Valley’s No. 2/No. 3 finishes in the mile, the points just kept coming as UW placed in the Top 10 in every event of the day.

After all the individual events had finished up, the meet came down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final event of Saturday night. The team of Kinney, Sehmann, Berg and Runge was behind Michigan heading into the final leg when the 6-foot-4 Runge used every inch to out-touch Gabby DeLoof for the conference title in the relay, winning with a time of 3:13.33.

With Wisconsin and Minnesota jockeying for third place, the 64 points scored from that relay win lifted the Badgers over the top and into a spot they hadn’t been for 12 years. Next up for the Badger women are the NCAA Championships in a month, where they are expecting to take home a Top 10 finish.

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