COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State and Michigan continue to battle in the pool for the Big Ten championship and the two teams will head into the final day Saturday with 80 points separating the two and a conference title on the line.
Ohio State leads this championship. The Buckeyes have 592.50 points heading into Saturday with Michigan second with 512.50 points. No other team is within 190 points of these two leaders. Minnesota is third with 321 points and is followed by Purdue (262) and Indian (193) in the Top 5.
Michigan won this meet by dominant margins the past two years: 300 points last year and by more than 200 points two years ago. With a load of points scorers back, including four swimmers who combined for six Big Ten titles in 2009, the Wolverines came in as favorites, perhaps heavy favorites.
But Ohio State coach Bill Wadley told his team to have no preconceived notions about how others think this meet will turn out. And so far, the team has been notion-less.
Today, just like Thursday, Ohio State qualified the most swimmers and divers into the finals and consolation final races – the points producing events – with 23, including 16 finalists. Michigan was second with 17 and 11, respectively.
“Our objective is to get into the finals,” Ohio State coach Bill Wadley said. “There is no holding back. How can we? We haven’t beaten Michigan since the 1950s. Today we did all we could do to get the people in the finals who we wanted to get in finals.”
And the Buckeyes produced. While Michigan increased its individual championship total to seven at this meet with three more titles Friday, Ohio State responded with three championships of its own to offset the Wolverine charge.
Joel Elber, Lincoln Fahrbach, Andrew Olson and Tim Phillips roared to a meet-opening win in the 200 freestyle relay in a school record time of 1:18.30. Minnesota, led by Big Ten 50 free champ Michael Richards, led the entire race with Ohio State second and Michigan third. Olson closed some of the gap on his third leg with a 19.41 time and then Phillips went 19.42 for the win. Fahrbach went 19.43 to give the Buckeyes three sub-19.50 swims.
Michigan had the numbers in its favor the first half of the meet Friday night, though, and it used that advantage to build a 45-point lead over the Buckeyes after the third individual event, the 200 freestyle. Dan Madwed’s win was the third consecutive for Michigan, but Ohio State had scored enough points to stay within striking distance. Here’s how:
The Buckeyes started their comeback in the 100 breaststroke. Elliott Keefer cruised to a school-record time of 53.23 to win the Big Ten title with Sam Pelkey second and Daniel Malnik fourth. The effort helped the Buckeyes to a 52-20 advantage in points over Michigan and brought the home team to within three, 491.5-488.5.
Andrew Elliott and the 100 backstroke team duplicated-and-more the breaststroke team’s effort. Elliott swam to a school record time of 46.01 for the win with Itai Chammah third, Markus Sievers seventh and Elber ninth for a 56-point final swimming event of the evening.
Coach Vince Panzano’s divers – three seniors competing in their last Big Ten championships – are well aware of what’s happening in the other pool and they knew their diving can help make a difference.
“We know we have a chance and we are trying our best to do our part,” Ryan Jefferson said. “The more points we can score on the boards the better chance we have.”
And so far, the divers have scored. Big. After adding 38 points to the team point total Thursday off the 1-meter springboard, Wes Wieser, Burkley Showe and Jefferson added another 46 points Friday with three more finals finishes on 3-meter. Wieser was second with 386.40 points with Showe fourth and Jefferson fifth.
And now the Ohio State Buckeyes will hit the sack tonight with a lead at the Big Ten Conference championships and one day to go. Rest well, fellas.
Meet Notes and other Random Thoughts…
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Men’s Big Ten Conference
Swimming and Diving Championships
Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion
Day 3 Team Standings:
1. Ohio State 592.50; 2. Michigan 512.50; 3. Minnesota 321; 4. Purdue 262; 5. Indiana 193; 6. Michigan State 155; 7. Penn State 153; 8. Wisconsin 150; 9. Iowa 149; 10. Northwestern 120.
Results: 200 freestyle relay – 1. Elber, Fahrbach, Olson, Phillips, OSU (1:18.30); 400 individual medley – 1. Clary, MICH (3:40.27); 5. Mudd, OSU (3:48.93); 100 butterfly – 1. Brady, MICH (45.92); 5. Lee, OSU, (47.35); 200 freestyle – 1. Madwed, MICH (1:34.57); 3. Markovic, OSU (1:35.26); 100 breaststroke – 1. Keefer, OSU (53.29); 100 backstroke – 1. Elliott, OSU (46.54); 3-meter diving – 1. Boudia, PUR (425.70); 2. Wieser, OSU (386.40).