COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 9 Ohio State men’s swimming and diving team closed out its dual meet campaign with a 177-112 win over Eastern Michigan Friday at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The victory over the Mid American Conference’s best team – the Eagles have won 53 consecutive MAC dual meets – capped a 9-1 regular season on an evening when 14 remarkable seniors were honored and celebrated before their final home dual.

Ohio State won 15 events Friday, but this night had more to do with Ohio State’s senior class than it did with swimming fast…which certainly was a goal. Victorious seniors included Daniel Malnik, Andrew Bretscher and Joel Elber (along with Andrew Elliott) in the 200 medley relay to open the meet. Buckeye seniors also won the 1000 freestyle (Mark Neiman), 100 and 200 freestyles (Andrew Olson), 50 free (Elber), 500 free (George Markovic) and Elber, Olson, Bretscher and Duncan De Wet as part of the 400 free relay. Senior Ryan Jefferson won both the 1- and 3-meter springboard events.

Ohio State has talented underclassmen, as well. Andrew Elliott (100 backstroke), Justin Farra (100 breaststroke), Luke Stirton (200 butterfly), Elliott Keefer (200 breaststroke), Quincy Lee (100 butterfly) and Phil Seleskie (200 individual medley) also swam to a victory.

But let’s get back to the seniors because this Ohio State class of seniors – 11 swimmers for coach Bill Wadley and three divers for coach Vince Panzano – are as classy a bunch of gentlemen as one will ever find in a class…any class, anywhere. The group achieved athletically, helping Ohio State to a second-place finish at the 2009 Big Ten championships for the school’s best finish in 31 years, and it has helped Ohio State to three consecutive Top 16 finishes at the ultimate championships, the NCAAs.

These seniors have achieved even greater heights academically with the nation’s third-highest team grade point average last year – 3.37 – and a figure that was the best among every U.S. public institution.

These seniors have succeeded individually, as well, and by the sounds of the future plans of this fine 14, they will continue to succeed…in profound ways. So let’s briefly meet the 2010 Ohio State senior class and find out just what is on the horizon…after, of course the two major meets that are upcoming in the next six weeks right here at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion: the Big Ten championships Feb. 24-27 and the NCAA championships March 25-27.

Andrew Bretscher, a three-time Ohio State record-holder and a two-time NCAA championships qualifier, is majoring in parks and recreation services. He will graduate this spring and he plans on going to work in his field…perhaps at someplace really cool like Yellowstone National Park. Let’s hope. 

Alex Chen, who is studying aerospace engineering and is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference honoree, will graduate this spring and hopes to land a position with either NASA or the Federal Aviation Administration. Talk about reaching for the sky…

Duncan De Wet is a finance major and a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete. He will graduate in June and will seek a business career in the finance industry with backup plans of going to graduate school.

Joel Elberis atwo-time honorable mention All-American and is the team captain for a record third year. This three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete will graduate this spring with a degree in exercise science. He plans on continuing to train as a swimmer while also studying to someday work in cardiac rehabilitation. First though, will be a trip to Germany this summer to compete at the German National Folk Dancing Championships. It’s true!

Ryan Jefferson is a two-time NCAA qualifier on both the 1- and 3-meter springboard events. An exercise science/pre-med major, Ryan is a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete who will graduate in Spring 2011. Then it’s on to medical school and after that a career working with athletes, “highly motivated people” as Ryan calls them.

Daniel Malnik, a finalist in the 200 breaststroke at both the 2007 and 2008 Big Ten championship meets, is a finance major and a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete. He will graduate this summer and then plans on finding a successful position in the business world.

George Markovic, a senior captain and a 2008 All-American, is a finance major who will graduate in December. A three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, George plans on continuing his training with a goal of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

Mark Neiman is a business major who was named to the inaugural Big Ten Distinguished Scholar list. This three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete doesn’t have any definite plans yet after he graduates this summer. He is a world class open water distance swimmer, though, so his open water possibilities are endless. 

Andrew Olson is in the school record books as part of three record-breaking relay teams and he is an honorable mention All-American. He will continue studying at Ohio State after this season and will receive his degree in engineering in Spring 2011.

Sam Pelkey is a Big Ten champion and an NCAA championships qualifier. He is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete majoring in biology who will start dental school at the University of Louisville this July.

Niksa Roki holds multiple Ohio State records. He also swam for his country of Croatia at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and has his sights set on a return Olympic experience in London in 2012. A biology major who will graduate in Winter 2011, Niksa is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete.

Burkley Showe is a four-time NCAA All-American diver and the 2007 Big Ten Conference champion on the 1-meter springboard. This former co-Big Ten Diver of the Meet and co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year is majoring in business and at this time, hasn’t decided what’s next on his horizon.

Stefan Sigrist is the only Buckeye in school history who has Top 3 times in three events. He is academically distinguished as well. He is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete majoring in political science and economics and he is a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. He will graduate this June and then plans on continuing his competitive training because London is calling for him, too.

Wes Wieser is a two-time Big Ten champion, winning titles in 2007 and 2008 on the 10-meter platform, and he is a two-time NCAA All-American. A three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, Wes will graduate in June with his degree in computer sciences and engineering. Then it’s off to graduate school, either at Ohio State or possibly even Georgia Tech.

Congratulations, gentlemen. Thank you, and the very best of good fortune and good luck to you all. Your competitiveness, your spirit, your personalities and your presence will be missed but never forgotten. This writer is sure of it. Your coaches said so.

Men’s Swimming and Diving

Friday, Feb. 5, 2010

Columbus, Ohio

McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion

Final Team Scores:  Ohio State 177, Eastern Michigan 112

Ohio State Event Winners: 200 medley relay – Elliott, Malnik, Bretscher, Elber (1:30.38); 1000 freestyle – Mark Neiman (9:21.97); 200 freestyle – Andrew Olson (1:38.91); 100 backstroke – Andrew Elliott (49.11); 100 breaststroke – Justin Farra (56.40); 200 butterfly – Luke Stirton (1:51.00); 50 freestyle – Joel Elber (20.76); 3-meter diving – Ryan Jefferson (414.23); 100 freestyle – Andrew Olson (45.48); 200 breaststroke – Elliott Keefer (2:01.05); 500 freestyle – George Markovic (4:33.40); 100 butterfly – Quincy Lee (49.80); 200 individual medley – Phil Seleskie (1:52.31); 400 freestyle relay – Elber, Olson, Bretscher, De Wet (3:04.78); 1-meter diving – Ryan Jefferson (391.65).

Click “photos” above to view a photo album of the seniors and their families and friends. Click “next page” in the lower  left to see the second panel of photos.