Minnesota Wins 2004 Championship
Feb. 28, 2004
WEST LAFAYETTE - Minnesota won its third Men's Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championship for the third time in four years Saturday night. The Gophers scored 714.5 points, outlasting Michigan (605) and Northwestern (478). The Hoosiers of Indiana finished fourth with 452.5 points, Wisconsin (341.5) fifth, and host team Purdue place sixth (337).
Several record setting performances highlighted the first two days of the meet, but Saturday's finals session topped all others. Three all-time Conference records were set tonight, in addition to one this morning.
Peter Vanderkaay won his third title of the meet, winning the 1,650-yard freestyle in convincing fashion. Vanderkaay's time of 14:48.66 is well under the NCAA automatic qualifying time. Teammate Andrew Hurd captured second in 15:08.06, after dueling Northwestern's Brian Davis (15:08.78) for most of the 66 lap race.
Vanderkaay and Hurd's effort led a strong Michigan contingent in the mile, as the Wolverines scored an impressive 64 team points in the event. The showing closed Minnesota's lead in the team race to just 34.5 points.
Michigan struck again in the next race, the 200-yard backstroke. Sophomore Chris DeJong swam one of the best races of the Championship, winning the event in meet and all-time Conference record time of 1:41.78, .5 seconds faster than the previous mark set in 1998. Wisconsin's Adam Mania (1:43.31) finished second and earned an NCAA 'A' time, while Louis Paul (1:44.03) of Purdue finished third.
In the 100-yard freestyle, Northwestern's Matt Grevers equaled Vanderkaay's total of three individual titles in three days. Grevers touched the wall first in 43.14, just off his record setting swim of this morning. Defending event champion Terry Silkaitis (43.28) challenged Grevers over the final 50-yards, but couldn't catch the 6-7 freshman. Silkaitis' teammate, freshman Mario Delac, wrapped up third place points for the Gophers in 43.56.
The 200-yard breaststroke brought roars from the many Purdue fans in the stands, as Giordan Pogioli won the first Big Ten title of his career. The sophomore Boilermaker beat Indiana's Kevin Swander to the wall, 1:56.13 to 1:56.46, in the fourth best time in Big Ten history. Only one other swimmer has been faster in the 200 breaststroke since 1990. Both Pogioli and Swander swam under the NCAA 'A' standard. Senior Tamas Besseneyei (1:58.13) completed a strong Purdue showing in the event, finishing third.
Davis Tarwater continued the Wolverine's dominance Saturday night, taking the 200-yard butterfly in 1:43.26, over one-and-a-half body lengths ahead of his nearest competitor. More impressively, his time breaks the all-time Conference record set by Olympic gold medalist Tom Malchow of Michigan in 1999. Indiana's Murph Halasz (1:44.81) swam an excellent final 25-yards to take second, just ahead of Northwestern's Mark Hamming (1:45.15).
In the platform diving competition, Michigan's Jason Coben secured himself Diver of the Championship honors, winning the event with 540.45 points. Coben also won the one-meter event on Thursday. Purude's Josh Karshen tallied 511.60 points, good enough for second place on tower. Teammate JR Hillis (445.30) won third.
In the final event of the meet, Minnesota simply crushed the existing Big Ten record in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The quartet of Mario Delac, Neil Osten, Terry Silkaitis, and Igor Cerensek combined to clock 2:51.65, well under the old record of 2:53.68 set by Penn State in 2002. The race was for second with Wisconsin (2:54.05) barely beating out Michigan (2:54.89) and Northwestern (2:54.92).
The 2004 Championships marked the final Big Ten meet for Michigan head coach Jon Urbanchek. Urbanchek is considered one of the most successful coaches in Conference history. He has guided the Wolverines to 13 Big Ten titles, one NCAA team title, and an overall Conference record of 100-4. Appropriately, Urbanchek was recognized as the Big Ten Coach of the Year after another outstanding season, which included a 4-0 Conference dual meet record.