COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State’s swimming and diving team closes out its 2009-10 dual meet season this weekend with a two-day dual meet against Penn State. The teams will compete Friday starting at 6 p.m. and Saturday (12 noon start). The meet will be contested along with the Ohio State men’s quadrangular meet against Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State. Admission is free.

Ohio State, under the direction of second-year coach Bill Dorenkott, carries a 6-0 record, a 2-0 Big Ten mark and a national ranking of No. 28 into the meet. Although Dorenkott will place no special emphasis on the meet this week – the goal is preparing for the championship season – a win over a team he directed for 10 years and led to three Big Ten Conference championships would give Ohio State its first unbeaten dual meet season. Ever.

It Will Have to be Earned  Defeating Penn State, 6-2 in dual meets this year, won’t be easy. Although the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions seven weeks ago at the Ohio State Invitational, coach John Hargis’ team is coming off a quadrangular win last weekend over Pitt, Maryland and Villanova. And Penn State has won 13 of the 14 dual meets all-time against Ohio State, with Ohio State’s last win during the 1996-97 season. Penn State, third at the 2009 Big Ten championships, defeated Ohio State last year in Columbus in a two-day dual: 196-132.

Making Success a Habit  “We are not going to define our season based on one dual meet or even dual meets alone,” Dorenkott said, a comment that reflects his thoughts on his team’s huge win over Michigan last weekend as much as this week’s meet vs. the Nittany Lions. “Our success needs to be a habit and not a single act. One meet does not make us successful. Success is doing things right again and again and again.”

Stunning Success vs. Michigan  The times weren’t great…by either team. The home team had lost 15 consecutive dual meets to its maize and blue rivals from the north. The Buckeyes were coming off a 15-hour day of practice, travel and racing at Michigan State the day before. So when No. 16 Michigan arrived at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion last Saturday for the dual meet, Dorenkott told his team “just go out and race. Don’t worry about the times. Just do your best and race.”

Two hours of thrilling racing later the Buckeyes had pulled off their biggest dual meet win in, quite frankly and possibly, the history of the program. It had been 25 years since Ohio State had defeated Michigan in a dual meet. So nobody expected the stunner of a meet that it was. The Buckeyes won eight of 14 races and both diving competitions and loaded up with 49 points in second- and third-place finishes for a victory that kept the season unbeaten and opened a few eyes – and yes, caused some tears (of joy) – from swimmers, Buckeye alums and faithful followers.

The Wall of Congratulations  Dorenkott and assistants Stefanie Williams and Susan Johnson have posted on a wall outside the locker room dozens of congratulatory letters and emails that have arrived since the Michigan win. “What this team does means something to a lot of people around and outside of this program,” Dorenkott said, “and I wanted the team to know this and see this.” 

Time to Celebrate the Seniors  Ohio State’s eight seniors will be recognized Saturday before the start of the second day of competition with Penn State. The senior class includes seven swimmers, four of whom are co-captains, and diver Chelsea Davis. Some thoughts on them all:

Megan Alexander – Worthington, Ohio

Megan is a team co-captain, a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and an Academic All-Big Ten selection majoring in education and human ecology. She also is a Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar. Megan holds Ohio State school records in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. She has scored points for the Buckeyes at Big Tens in the two events five times, including last year when she swam a championship final in both. Last year she also swam on the school record-breaking 400 medley relay team that finished fifth at the Big Ten championships.

Farriss Blaskovits – Nepean, Ontario, Canada

Farriss is a three-time OSU Scholar Athlete and two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. She also was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar last year, the first year the conference has issued the award. A freestyle swimmer for the Buckeyes, Farriss was a co-winner last season of the team’s Highest Grade Point Average award. She is majoring in biology with plans on attending medical school.

Chelsea Davis – Columbus, Ohio

Chelsea is an NCAA champion on the 3-meter springboard (2008) and a Big Ten champion on the three-meter board (2006 while a freshman at Northwestern). She is also a three-time NCAA All-American. The 2008 NCAA Tri-Diver of the Year, Chelsea is in the school of Allied Medical Professions and will be attending Washington University in St. Louis next year for graduate school. She is a three-time OSU Scholar Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

Jill Lockhart – Muncie, Ind.

Strategic communications major Jill Lockhart is a three-time OSU Scholar Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. A 2009-10 team co-captain, Jill led all Buckeyes by scoring in three individual events at the 2009 Big Ten championships. That effort helps explain that she is the second-fastest swimmer all-time at Ohio State in three events: the 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and the 400 individual medley. Jill also is part of the school record-setting 200 medley relay team.

Haley Mitchell – Walled Lake, Mich.

Haley is an accomplished senior co-captain. She is part of the school-record breaking 200 medley relay team. She has scored points at the Big Ten championships. She has recorded multiple victories in dual meets. And last week she scored 10.7 points – off two runner-up finishes and by anchoring the winning 400 free relay – in Ohio State’s big win over Michigan. Haley is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection. She is majoring in business marketing.

Colleen Schweitzer – Highlands, Colo.

Colleen is a three-time OSU Scholar Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection who is majoring in health sciences and health management. She has been a consistent point scorer for the Buckeyes at the Big Ten championships in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. She set a career-best time in the 100 breaststroke at the 2009 Big Ten meets, a time that is third-fastest all-time at Ohio State.

Sarah Ratica – Solon, Ohio

Sarah Ratica is finishing strong. A two-time OSU Scholar athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Sarah was one of three Buckeyes who posted a perfect grade point average for the 2009 Fall Quarter. A health and wellness major who is planning on attending graduate school to study physical therapy, Sarah has been a points scorer for the Buckeyes at the Big Ten Conference championships.

MaryAnn Weiser – Greenwood, Ind.

MaryAnn is a team co-captain for 2009-10. She is majoring in speech and hearing sciences with plans on pursuing a doctorate in the field. She has twice been named an OSU Scholar-Athlete and an Academic All-Big Ten honoree. In the pool, MaryAnn is a freestyle and backstroke swimmer for the Buckeyes who continues to improve her career bests in each of her events.

Up Next  The Buckeyes will continue training and preparation for the 2010 Big Ten Championships, set for Feb. 17-20 at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.