Team-leader Michigan Sends Seven Into Championships Finals
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Heading into the final day of preliminary competition at the 2007 Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, Michigan holds the slimmest of margins in the team standings. Judging from the intensity filling Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, everyone - especially Minnesota who sits three points out of first - knew it.
The Wolverines know there is strength in numbers, and they dominated the afternoon to send seven swimmers into the championships finals and three more into consolation rounds.
After the second day of competition saw 137 times meet at least provisional NCAA qualifying standards, the field again rose to the occasion. Nearly 60 swimmers qualified for the national meet, including 10 automatic marks.
200 Backstroke | Results
The final heat saw a rematch of Saturday night's 100-yard backstroke final, in which Indiana's Ben Hesen snapped Northwestern's Matt Grevers' streak of consecutive golds in the event at three. Hesen set a new Big Ten record in the process, but Grevers exacted a little bit of revenge in the prelim of the 200.
Grevers led going into the last 50 yards, but Hesen almost took the lead after the turn. Northwestern's 21-time All-American turned up his speed and pulled away for a first-place finish in his heat at 1:42.99. Grevers claimed the second seed in tonight's final, while Hesen came in next at 1:44.28 for the sixth seed.
Minnesota's David Plummer, who claimed bronze in the 100 back, finished third in the prelims with a time of 1:43.20. He was followed by Purdue's Romain Maire who edged Michigan's Andre Schultz by 0.04 seconds for fourth.
In the event's highly competitive field, five qualified automatically for the NCAAs while seven more qualified at least provisionally.
100 Freestyle | Results
Igor Cerensek (43.81) and Tyler Schmidt (43.93) led the way for Minnesota in fourth and fifth, while three more Gophers earned spots in the consolation final. Bubolz's teammate Bruno Barbic will join him after finishing at 43.94, barely edging Indiana's T.P. Patrick by 0.02 seconds for seventh.
200 Breaststroke | Results
Alexandrov also posted the only A-standard qualifying time, but 14 more qualified provisionally in the prelim.
Indiana's Pat Penoyar came in next at 1:57.56, followed closely by Michigan's Scott Spann at 1:57.73. Iowa's lone finalist is junior Dragos Agache, who earned bronze-medal honors in the 100-yard event. Agache enters tonight's final as the fourth seed with a prelim time of 1:58.40.
Minnesota's Drew Knoechel returns to the event finals after finishing sixth in 2006. He finished fifth with a time of 1:59.04. Buckeye rookie Sam Pelkey followed closely at 1:59.11, and his fellow first-year Buckeye Daniel Malnik will join him after earning the eighth seed.
200 Butterfly | Results
His teammates Alex Vanderkaay (1:45.88) and Dane Grenda (1:45.97) followed in third and fourth places, respectively, to give the Wolverines a near-monopoly on tonight's finals points. Northwestern's Eric Nilsson clocked in fifth, while Wisconsin's Scott Rice and Purdue's Sam Wilcher battled it out for sixth. Rice touched the wall 0.05 seconds ahead of Wilcher, who sped ahead of eighth-place Tim Williams of Penn State.
Along with the A-standard marks for Walkotten and Dauw, 12 more swimmers qualified for NCAAs with provisional times.
Platform diving | Results
The 1650-yard freestyle preliminary heats will begin at approximately 4:30 ET and will continue throughout the afternoon, with the final following at 7 p.m.
Michigan's Matt Patton ranks first in the event with a season-best time of 15:07.37, the fifth-fastest performance in the country, while Ohio State's George Markovic and Mark Neiman hold the next-best times in the Big Ten.
The championships grand finale begins at 7:00 p.m. ET when, in addition to these events, conference-swimming champions will be crowned in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Check back to BigTen.org for live results and continuing coverage of the 2007 Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.