MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.-Senior Taryn Ignacio is one step closer to defending her crown as national champion on the platform when she placed fifth overall today to advance to the finals competition in the last night of the 2007 NCAA Championships.
In addition to Ignacio the quartet of Heather Bradford, Lauren Willis, Kristina Sledge and Jenny Bradford advanced to the consolation of the 400-freestyle relay after earning a 15th seed in the morning preliminary heat. This will mark the first time in school history that the 400-free relay team will score in the national event.
Ignacio opened up her preliminary round with a shaky 43.50 score on her first dive. The Richmond, Ky., native wasn't fazed and answered with two consecutive dives that scored 70 or more points all but sealing up a repeat appearance in the finals of the tower at the national stage. She ended with dives of 51.20 and 63.00 to finish fifth with 303.05 points.
Junior Kari Retrum advanced to her second consolation bracket in three diving events, when she placed 14th overall with a score of 255.15. Much like her teammate, she opened with two low scoring dives, but responded under pressure and hit her last two dives. Her last two dives scored 58 or more points pushing her into the top-16 of the country.
The relay team clocked in a time of 3:20.48 to earn one of the eight consolation seeds, ensuring added points to Kentucky's total of 66. At the SEC Championships the squad placed fifth in a time of 3:20.17.
In the individual events, junior Jenny Bradford placed 17th in the 100-freestyle with a time of 49.34, just .06 of a second behind the 16th place scorer. Bradford continued another incredible season in the Blue and White, posting her third top-8 finish in her career when she placed seventh in the 50-free on the first night of competition.
Despite missing the qualifying time for a return to the nighttime competition, junior Heather Bradford earned a career-best time in the 100-free when she tapped in a time of 50.08 for 38th place. Bradford has enjoyed an outstanding 2007 NCAA Championships, besting all three of her individual event times. In last night's 100-butterfly she stood on the podium for the first time in her career as one of the fastest eight butterfliers in the country.
Junior Lauren Willis placed 67th in the 100-free with a time of 51.53 as the final individual Wildcat participating in an event this morning.
The first event is slated to begin tonight at 7 p.m. CST. Live stats are available at the University of Minnesota's website www.gophersports.com
Complete coverage of the University of Kentucky squad can be found at www.ukathletics.com