COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s swimming and diving team travels to Minneapolis, Minn., and the campus of the University of Minnesota this week for the 2011 Big Ten Conference swimming and diving championships. The championships begin Wednesday evening with two relay finals and extend through Saturday evening at the University Aquatic Center.
Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships
Buckeyes Defending Champions Ohio State is the defending Big Ten champion, having won the 2010 title at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus with 860.5 points. Michigan was second with 715.5 points with Minnesota (497) and Purdue (417) the only other schools with at least 300 points. The championship was the first in 54 years for Ohio State and, all-time, the 13th in school history.
Going into the meet as a defending champion has added to the excitement of the team’s preparation.
“We have a giant ‘X’ on our back this year instead of being an underdog,” junior co-captain and 2010 Big Ten champion (100 backstroke) Andrew Elliott said. “Everybody wants to take us down. It’s nice, and a different perspective.”
Fellow co-captain Lincoln Fahrbach, a Big Ten champ as part of the 200 free relay last year, said the team is “going in expecting no team will give us anything. We are expecting a very tough meet.”
And 800 free relay All-American Stephen Sakaris said the team just needs to go into this meet with a confident attitude of “owning it.”
“We’re confident,” Sakaris said. “But we know that anything can happen. That’s why we swim the meet. Lots of teams are motivated, especially after seeing us win this championship last year. It’s going to be totally close, but if we execute the way we know we can, we’ll be pleased with the outcome.”
A Close Meet…Top to Bottom Unlike last year, when Ohio State scored the second most team points at a championship – 860.5 – and won by 145 points, coach Bill Wadley expects a lower winning score and more teams in contention.
“The really exciting thing about the mee is the conference should be a lot tighter from top to bottom,” Wadley, the 2010 Coach of the Year said. “The top four or five teams are going to be very competitive. There are so many good teams this year that the meet could go in any direction.
“The key is getting of to a good start with the two relays Wednesday night and the 500 freestyle Thursday. We’ll want to get the wheels turning right away.”
Order of Events
12 Returning Points Scorers… Ohio State will carry a nice mix of returning championship points scorers and championship rookies into the meet. A total of 12 swimmers return who scored points in 2010, including 10 swimmers who combined for 17 finals swims. They are (event/events they were a finalist):
Two other returning point scorers are Phil Seleskie and Stephen Sakaris. Seleskie is a two-time Big Ten finalist – he was sixth in the 100 back in 2008 and eighth in the 200 back in 2009 – who was ninth in the 200 back last year and 10th in the 400 individual medley. Sakaris was ninth in the 200 freestyle and was also a member of the runner-up 800 free relay team that would go on to earn All-America honors at the NCAA championships.
And Three Who Were Champions Ohio State’s championship roster also includes three Big Ten champions. Andrew Elliott won the 100 backstroke; Elliott Keefer won the 100 breaststroke; and Elliott and Lincoln Fahrbach were part of the champion 200 free relay.
Exciting and Scary Wadley said anytime you have almost half your team competing in their first championship it is “an exciting thing and a scary thing.” He also said expectations of them are still high.
“We expect them to perform at the very highest level,” Wadley said.
Five of the first-timers are freshmen while the other five – Zach Birnbrich, Zach Holmes, Bobby Jenrow, Tom O’Neill and Jason Schnur – have been with the program at least a year. The true freshmen: Ryan Bubb, Kevin Lancki, Alex Miller, Ty Perkins and Dak Stone. Ohio State’s two divers are also freshmen: Christian Holstein and Shane Miszkiel.
Ohio State Championships History Ohio State has won 13 Big Ten championships. Only Michigan (34) and Indiana (24) have more Big Ten team championships than Ohio State.
Individual Champions Ohio State also ranks third in the Big Ten with 180 individual Big Ten champions (a total that includes all swimming, diving and relay events).
Turning Those Bs into As A primary function of the Big Ten championships is to qualify as many individuals as possible for the NCAA championships, one month from this week and back on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The Buckeyes have one NCAA “A” qualifying standard so far – Andrew Elliott in the 100 backstroke – and 32 “B” cuts.
NCAA A & B Cuts:
50 freestyle – Lincoln Fahrbach and Jason Schnur
200 freestyle – Stephen Sakaris, Tim Phillips and Jacob Schuster
500 freestyle – Brent Hitchcock, Luke Stirton, Bo Wullings and Brett Boston
1,650 freestyle – Brent Hitchcock, Ty Perkins and Alex Miller
100 backstroke – Andrew Elliott (A cut)
200 back – Andrew Elliott, Markus Sievers and Phil seleskie
100 breast – Elliott Keefer and Justin Farra
200 breast – Elliott Keefer and Justin Farra
100 fly – Tim Phillips, Quincy Lee and Lincoln Fahrbach
200 fly – Quincy Lee, Luke Stirton and Bobby Jenrow
200 IM – Justin Farra and Markus Sievers
400 IM – Justin Farra, Phil Seleskie, Austin Mudd and Michael Hulme