Michigan and Minnesota Try to Make Up Ground on Indiana
The afternoon's preliminary races were a battle to see if any team could find a way to get enough points to catch host Indiana in the Big Ten Championship. The team champion will be decided after tonight's final events. Michigan has the best chance to gain points with two top-seeded swimmers after Davis Tarwater and Chris DeJong lead their respective fields in the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke. Northwestern junior Matt Grevers will be after his fifth gold medal of the weekend in tonight's 100-yard freestyle final.
The afternoon began with the 200-yard backstroke, which featured six swimmers who have qualified for the NCAA Championships either automatically or provisionally. Michigan's Chris DeJong and Adam Mitchell entered as the favorites, along with David Plummer of Minnesota and Romain Maire of Purdue. DeJong entered the preliminary race with the second seed, but will swim in tonight's final with the No. 1 seed. Plummer, a sophomore will have the second seed, Mitchell with the third and Maire with the fourth.
Second on the agenda was the 100-yard freestyle, which featured Todd Patrick of Indiana, Mario Delac of Minnesota, and Matt Grevers, who will be trying to win his fifth gold of the weekend and was seeded number one in the preliminaries. It was Igor Ceresnek who posted the fastest preliminary time and will swim in lane four of tonight's championships. Joining him are two Minnesota teammates, Tyler Schmidt and Ales Volcansek. Northwestern will have two representatives in Kyle Bubolz, the second seed and Grevers, the third seed. Indiana will also have two athletes in the championship heat, with both Lee Houchin and Todd Patrick qualifying. Joe Doyle of Ohio State rounds out the field, as he finished in a tie for the seventh seed with Doyle.
Purdue's Giordan Poglioli and and Northwestern's Mike Alexandrov stayed true to form in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing with the top-two preliminary times. Following them was Indiana's Kevin Swander and Heath Tameris, then Minnesota's Andrew Knoechel. Gragos Agache of Iowa, Jim-Soo Kim of Purdue and Ian Clutten of Michigan State round out tonight's championship finals heat.
Michigan's Davis Tarwater is the only Big Ten swimmer to have automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships during the regular season. Others, including Hoosier freshman Nick Walkotten, Michigan's Alex Vanderkaay and Ohio State's Marty Tomes will be chasing him in tonight's championship. A pair of freshmen, Scott Rice of Wisconsin and Curtis Dauw of Michigan will be in fifth and sixth position, with Buckeye Brian Tiemeier and Gopher Zach Woods round out the top eight.