Cole Paxton

Women’s Basketball: Coffey named preseason All-Big Ten

Women’s Basketball: Coffey named preseason All-Big Ten
(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

Senior forward Nia Coffey was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team in both coaches and media panels, the conference announced Monday.

Coffey, who averaged a double-double for most of last season before finishing the season with 20.3 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per contest, was a first-team postseason selection each of the last two seasons by both coaches and media. She also received honorable mention AP All-American honors last year. This is the third consecutive year Coffey was named to the preseason all-conference team.

Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was the Big Ten preseason Player of the Year for both coaches and the media, and Maryland was selected as the conference favorite.

The Cats will open their regular season Nov. 11 against Hampton. After starting last season 10-0 and reaching No. 12 in the AP poll, NU struggled mightily in Big Ten play and finished with an 18-17 record after losing in the first round of the WNIT. After the graduation of guard Maggie Lyon last year, the Cats are expected to be led this year by Coffey and senior guards Ashley Deary and Christen Inman.

Field Hockey: Two Cats earn Big Ten honors, NU rises in polls

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Junior forward Pascale Massey was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and freshman midfielder Saar de Breij was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, the conference announced Tuesday. Separately, Northwestern moved to No. 6 in the NFHCA rankings, also released Tuesday.

Massey led the Wildcats with 3 total goals last weekend, helping NU beat both then-No. 4 Penn State and then-No. 6 Maryland. She scored the eventual game-winning goal in Friday’s 5-3 win over the Nittany Lions, then added both the opening goal and the winning score in Sunday’s 3-2 victory against the Terrapins.

It was a breakout weekend for Massey, who, despite starting every game this season on the forward line, had scored only 1 goal entering Friday. She had tallied just 3 goals in her first two seasons in Evanston, one of which was cut short by an injury.

de Breij, meanwhile, scored a goal in each game off the bench. Her Friday tally completed a 2-minute stretch in which the Cats scored 3 goals. On Sunday, she gave NU a brief 2-1 lead with an early second half score.

The Cats, who moved up five spots from No. 11 in the coaches poll, rose more than any other team this week. Penn State, now No. 5, remains ahead of NU despite the Cats’ head-to-head victory, though NU is now ranked above No. 8 Maryland. No. 9 Michigan is the fourth Big Ten team in the top 10.

Field Hockey: van Agt named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week

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Sophomore forward Eva van Agt was named Big Ten offensive player of the week, the conference announced Tuesday.

van Agt, who has started every game this season for the Wildcats, led the team with 3 goals in a weekend sweep of Ohio State and Kent State. She scored 2 of her goals against the Flashes on Sunday and also added an assist in the 4-1 victory. van Agt scored on all three of her shot attempts over the two games.

van Agt got her name on the scoresheet in a variety of ways. She converted from a penalty corner on Friday, then displayed some individual ability to score her first goal Sunday before capping her weekend with an acrobatic finish on a pass from junior back Sophia Miller.

After finishing her freshman year third on the team in scoring, she is currently tied for third with 4 goals on the season. The award is the first of van Agt’s career, and the first award an NU player has received this season.

The Cats, who jumped from No. 15 to No. 11 in the NFHCA Coaches rankings this week, will return to action Friday by hosting No. 4 Penn State.

Fall Sports Preview – Men’s Swimming: Wildcats attempt to take step forward

Fall Sports Preview – Men’s Swimming: Wildcats attempt to take step forward
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

When Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky returns to Evanston in the fall, Northwestern’s traditionally small team should get a big boost.

Without Wilimovsky, who holds school records in three events and qualified for the NCAA Championships each of his first three seasons as a Wildcat, NU finished eighth at the Big Ten Championships and did not send a swimmer to the NCAA meet. Wilimovsky, who won the 10-kilometer open water world championship in 2015, took the 2015-16 school year off to focus on training for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The Cats had no standout performers and lost eight straight dual meets, including all four Big Ten matchups, to close the regular season. NU won just one dual against a Division I opponent, a late-October victory over crosstown rival UIC.

There are, however, positive signs for coach Jarod Schroeder heading into his eighth season leading the Cats. Rising sophomore Carter Page had the team’s fastest times in two longer-distance freestyle events, and fellow sophomore Tyler Lis led the team in the 200-yard backstroke and 400-yard individual medley. Lis’s 400 IM time made him the fourth-fastest in program history in that event.

Further, the Cats are expected to return 19 of 21 swimmers from last season, and NU’s eighth place finish at Big Tens was the program’s highest since 2009. Wilimovsky will offer a significant lift in the 1,650-yard freestyle, as he finished third at the NCAA Championships in that event in 2015. He also swam the 500-yard freestyle at NCAAs that season.

NU’s greatest success last season came on the diving board. Two divers reached the NCAA Zone Championships and incoming senior Andrew Cramer qualified for the NCAA Championships in two events. His top finish was 26th on the 3-meter springboard.

The Cats’ 2016-17 schedule is highlighted by the three-day TYR Invite, which NU hosts in November. The Cats will have just two dual meets at home and will swim all three Big Ten duals away from Evanston.

Wilimovsky begins Olympic program Friday

Wilimovsky begins Olympic program Friday
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

Northwestern’s Jordan Wilimovsky is expected to swim over eight competitive miles at the Olympics over the next few days. Here’s a breakdown of the rising senior’s races.

1500-meter freestyle

Preliminaries: Aug. 12, 11:40 a.m. CT

Final: Aug. 13, 8:11 p.m. CT

Wilimovsky qualified for this event by finishing second at the U.S. Trials in July. His 14:49.19 time at trials, a personal best, makes him the sixth fastest swimmer in the world this year. Defending world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy has the fastest time this year at 14:34.o4. 

To advance to the final, Wilimovsky will need to swim one of the eight fastest times in the preliminary round. Considering his entry time and current form, he seems to be in a good position to advance. Only seven swimmers have bested 14:53 this year, and only 14:57 was needed to make the final at the most recent world championship and Olympics. Most swimmers do not swim a personal best in the heats, but Wilimovsky appears to have a large-enough cushion on the field to get it done.

Wilimovsky will swim in the fifth of six heats, so he will not know exactly how fast he will need to swim to advance as he swims. The first heat will begin at 11:40, so Wilimovsky’s race will likely not begin before 12:45 p.m.

The top medal contenders are Paltrinieri, defending Olympic champion and world record-holder Sun Yang of China and Australia’s Mack Horton, who has the second-fastest time in the world this year and won gold in the 400 free in Rio. Wilimovsky is not expected to be a factor in the medal picture.

10-kilometer open water

Aug. 16, 7 a.m. CT

Wilimovsky, who qualified in this event by winning the world championship last year, is the odds-on favorite to win. He decimated the field to win by over 12 seconds last summer in Russia, defeating a field that included defending Olympic champion Ous Mellouli of Tunisia and European champion Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands, who took second behind Wilimovsky.

According to the betting markets, Wilimovsky is a slight favorite. Betting website PaddyPower lists Wilimovsky with 7-2 odds to win, while Betfair installed Wilimovsky at 9-2. Both sites have China’s Zu Lijun as the second choice.

Because courses are different and conditions are variable, past times are relatively meaningless in this race compared to pool events. The strategy Wilimovsky used to take the world title last year—lurking in the middle of the pack early and building into the lead as the race goes on—is focused more on position than time.

Weertman is expected to challenge Wilimovsky; the London Olympic champion Mellouli could as well, though he finished 23rd at the world championships last year. Zu won a last-chance qualifier in June to make the Olympics, finishing four spots ahead of Mellouli.

NBC will air the 1500 free, and NBC Sports Network will show the 10k. All races will also stream live on NBCOlympics.com.

Wilimovsky, Slowing represent Northwestern in Rio

Wilimovsky, Slowing represent Northwestern in Rio
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

In 2012, Northwestern’s headline Olympian was a 6-foot-8 swimmer, Matt Grevers, whose specialty event took less than a minute.

The top Wildcat at the 2016 Games is also a swimmer, but Jordan Wilimovsky is a skinny 5-foot-10 man and the defending world champion in a race that lasts nearly two hours.

Wilimovsky, a rising senior who took the 2015-16 school year off from NU to focus on Olympic preparation, will represent the United States in both the 1500-meter freestyle — the longest event in the pool — and the 10-kilometer open water event, in which he won the 2015 world championship.

Incoming freshman swimmer Valerie Gruest Slowing will represent Guatemala in the 800-meter freestyle and potentially other events.

Wilimovsky, who began swimming at age 9 after failing a swim test at a summer camp, had a breakout year in 2015. He won the Big Ten title in the 1,650-yard freestyle, then finished third at the NCAA Championships in the same event. Less than a month later he won the national championship in the 10K event, his first senior national title of any kind.

He then won the 10K world title in Russia in July of that year, qualifying him for the U.S. Olympic team in the event. In July of 2016, he swam a personal best time in the 1,500 free to finish second at the U.S. Olympic Trials and earn a berth in that event as well. Wilimovsky, 22, will become the first American to swim in both the pool and the open water at the Olympics.

Slowing enters the games with a considerably less decorated résumé. Though she owns 12 Guatemalan national records, her 800 free time of 8 minutes, 33.28 seconds makes her just the 44th fastest swimmer in that event this year.

The 800 free is the only event Slowing has directly qualified for. However, because she has hit the Olympic “B” standard in the 200- and 400-meter freestyles and no other Guatemalan swimmers have qualified in those events, she could swim them if she chooses.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist Grevers, meanwhile, did not make the U.S. team. He finished third at the Olympic trials in his signature event, the 100-meter backstroke, despite swimming the fourth fastest time of 2016.

No other current or former Wildcats are set to compete in Rio. Fencer Juliana Barrett, a 2016 graduate, won an African Olympic qualifier to represent South Africa in the games, but was not named to the Olympic team because South Africa’s Olympic committee did not consider the continental qualification mechanism satisfactory to compete in Rio.

Florida, DePaul highlight women’s basketball nonconference slate

Florida, DePaul highlight women’s basketball nonconference slate
(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

Northwestern will play 2016 NCAA Tournament teams Florida and DePaul this season, the team announced Thursday as it released the full nonconference schedule.

The Wildcats will host another NCAA qualifier in Missouri State and meet Virginia in a previously-announced ACC/Big Ten Challenge game as part of the 13-game slate. NU will host nine of those games at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Gators, who will travel to Evanston for a Nov. 25 matchup, were a No. 5 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and was often ranked in the top 25. DePaul, who handed the Cats their first loss last season, reached the second round of the NCAAs as a No. 6 seed.

NU opens the regular season with three straight home games and will not leave the Chicagoland area before a Dec. 11 tilt at Milwaukee. The Cats’ only lengthy road trip is to the West Coast for games at Santa Clara and Gonzaga.

NU will host Illinois-Springfield in an exhibition Nov. 6. The official opener is Nov. 11 against Hampton.

The Cats’ Big Ten opponents have been released, but the full schedule has not. Last season, NU finished nonconference play with an 11-1 record but went just 4-14 in conference games.

Wilimovsky makes Olympics in 1,500 meter freestyle

Wilimovsky makes Olympics in 1,500 meter freestyle
(Daily file photo by Brian Lee)

Northwestern swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky finished second in the 1,500 meter freestyle at U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, qualifying him for his second event at August’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Wilimovsky, who qualified in the 10 kilometer open water distance by winning the 2015 World Championship in that discipline, finished in a personal-best 14:49.19. He took over control of second place early and established clear water over trailing swimmers by the 900 meter mark. Wilimovsky finished more than 17 seconds ahead of third place finisher Michael McBroom.

Connor Jaeger won the race in 14:47.61.

A rising senior, Wilimovsky took this past year off from NU to focus on his training. He holds school records in the 500 yard, 1,000 yard and 1,650 yard freestyle.

The 1,500 meter event in Rio begins Aug. 12. The open water swim is Aug. 16.

Northwestern women’s basketball to face Virginia in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Northwestern women’s basketball to face Virginia in ACC/Big Ten Challenge
(Daily file photo by Katie Pach)

The Wildcats will host Virginia on December 1 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the two conferences jointly announced Wednesday.

NU finished 18-17 overall, including a first-round loss in the WNIT, and just 4-14 in Big Ten play last season. The Cats return first-team all-Big Ten forward Nia Coffey, conference defensive player of the year Ashley Deary and several other letter winners.

The Cavaliers finished 18-16 and reached the WNIT Round of 16.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is an annual event matching schools from the two conferences for non-league games. NU won 85-72 at North Carolina last season.

The Cats and Cavaliers have played just twice. Virginia won the last meeting in 2004.

 

Andrea Filler, Amy Letourneau named first-team all-Big Ten

Andrea Filler, Amy Letourneau named first-team all-Big Ten
(Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson)

Northwestern seniors Andrea Filler and Amy Letourneau were named to the all-Big Ten first team, the conference announced Wednesday.

Filler, who was named to her second consecutive all-conference first team, has been a staple at shortstop for the Cats since transferring from Boston College in 2013. She hit .327 and led NU with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs this season.

Letourneau, meanwhile, has excelled both in the circle and at the plate. She has a 13-10 record and 3.03 ERA in 21 starts. Her 155 innings pitched are more than double her closest competitor. At the plate, the 2013 all-Big Ten first-team honoree hit .341 with 14 home runs and added 56 RBIs.

Also, freshman third baseman Morgan Nelson and sophomore centerfielder Sabrina Rabin were named to the second team. Nelson hit .320 with 41 RBIs, and Rabin hit a team-leading .341 while serving as the team’s leadoff hitter.

Letourneau was also named to the all-defensive team, and senior infielder Aubrie May was NU’s sportsmanship award honoree.

The Cats begin Big Ten Tournament play Friday in State College, Pennsylvania.