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Special to The Pantagraph

Kyle Pullman, Valerie Zaleski, Tiffany Rentner and Monique Witkowski teamed to win the 200-yard freestyle relay in a time of 1 minute, 36.55 seconds and spark the Illinois State swimming and diving team to a first-place showing Friday in the Summa Care Invitational at Akron, Ohio.

The Redbirds totaled 524 points after the first day of the meet, which continues at 9 a.m. today.

"Overall, this was a good start," ISU coach Steve Paska said. "The morning went fine, but the finals at night went better. Everyone swam season bests and a number of girls accomplished personal bests tonight."

Leading the way for individual events was Christine Steinbach, who was third in the 500-yard in 5:04.15, earning season and personal bests.

Witkowski and Pullman finished second and third, respectively, in the 50 freestyle in 24.07 and 24.12.

Witkowski, Brittany Armstrong, Tracy Deyell and Pullman teamed for a second-place finish in the 400 medley in 3:44.49.

All of the divers for Illinois State placed in the top 15 during preliminaries and three of them (Emily Hirt, Kaitlin Schneider and Katie Janonis) continued on to the finals.

Urbana swimmer signs with ISU

Paska has added another swimmer to his team for the 2006-07 season with the signing of Urbana High School senior Catharine Danenhower.

"Catharine is a key ingredient," Paska said. "She has the versatility and the capability to swim a number of different events. Her commitment and dedication to the sport shows that she is definitely ready to compete at this level."

Danenhower, a four-time state qualifier, was voted team captain as a senior and was the sectional champ in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke. She holds school records in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly and is a part of two record-setting relays: the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.

In the offseason Danenhower swims for the Champaign County Aquachiefs, where she is a four-time YMCA national qualifier.

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