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    Several 'Cats Swim Fast at Big Ten Championships Friday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM John Frutiger turned in the third best 200 freestyle time in NU annals Friday night at the Big Ten Championships.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    John Frutiger turned in the third best 200 freestyle time in NU annals Friday night at the Big Ten Championships.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Feb. 24, 2012

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Northwestern produced several strong swims and career-best efforts Friday during the third night of the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City, Iowa.

    The first event of Friday's evening session was the 200 freestyle relay. The Wildcats swam in the second of two heats and placed seventh in their heat a time of 1:19.49, an NCAA `B' cut standard and the fifth-fastest swim in program history. Toni Valic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Bridgeport) swam the first leg, followed by freshman Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst). Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) swam third and Jake Grosser (St. Charles, Ill./USC) brought the 'Cats home.

    The first individual event was the 400 individual medley. Northwestern secured two lanes in the consolation final of event on the strength of NCAA `B' cut times by Tony Mattar (Lake Orion, Mich./Indiana) and Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman). Rimkus used a monster effort in the final 50 yards as he produced a freestyle split of 25.14 to charge to a second-place finish in a time of 3:50.49. Mattar pushed the pace in the early going and ultimately touched home in seventh in a time of 3:55.07.

    Freshman Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) qualified for the consolation final of the 100 butterfly at his first Big Ten Championship Friday. After narrowly missing an NCAA `B' cut standard this morning, Ferguson shed the necessary fractions and came in at 49.23 seconds in the finale. After setting a personal-best, he finished eighth in the heat.

    Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) and John Frutiger (Alma, Mich./Alma) each qualified for second swims in the 200 freestyle. After both notching NCAA `B' cuts this morning, Stephens swam in the bonus final, while Frutiger was the lone NU swimmer in the consolation final.

    Frutiger claimed fourth place in the consolation final with a career-best swim of 1:36.65. That's an NCAA `B' cut and the third-fastest time ever for an NU swimmer. Earlier in the meet, the senior swam a career-best in the 500 freestyle at a clip of 4:23.31. Stephens placed eighth in his race in a time of 1:39.41.

    Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Mäkelänrinteen Lukio) was the lone Wildcat in the consolation final of the 100 breaststroke event. Auren swam the second-fastest time in NU history in the prelims (54.03) and garnered a second-place finish in the `B' final with another impressive time of 54.32 seconds.

    Ferguson came back one more time with an appearance in the bonus final of the 100 backstroke. The Australian finished third in his second event of the evening with a strong time of 49.35 seconds.

    The Wildcats remain in ninth place after the third day of competition with 118.0 points.

    Earlier in the day, Friday's first preliminary event was the 400 individual medley with three Wildcats spread across the five heats. Andrew Seitz (Pleasanton, Calif./Armador Valley) held the top seed time in the first heat with a mark of 4:10.23. The newcomer dropped 9.48 seconds off that time to set a new career-best mark.

    Like Seitz, Mattar had the fastest seed time in heat two with an incoming pace of 4:02.45. Mattar was the top finisher in the second heat with an NCAA `B' cut effort of 3:52.27. Also like, Seitz, the senior shed significant time, 10.18 seconds to be exact, to establish a new top time for this season.

    Already with an NCAA `B' cut under his belt in this event, Rimkus set a new top time for the year with a swim of 3:50.09, the fourth-best in program history and the 10th-fastest time of the morning during the prelims.

    Four 'Cats hit the water this morning in the 100 butterfly. Ross McAuliffe (Shapwick, United Kingdom/Millfield School) was the lone entry in heat one and he kicked things off with a time of 52.08 seconds, his best effort of the season to date.

    Heat two featured a pair of freshmen in John Kim (Newport Coast, Calif./Corona del Mar) and Ferguson. Ferguson swam second in the heat with a time of 48.38 seconds, just ahead of Kim, who touched the wall in 50.21 seconds. Kim's effort was a career-best.

    Grosser continued his final Big Ten championship meet with his career-best mark in the 100 butterfly. The senior came home in 48.57 seconds, just shy of a `B' cut. Grosser qualified to represent the 'Cats in the bonus final, however he scratched to focus on the 200 freestyle relay.

    The day's most populated event was the 200 freestyle with 74 Big Ten swimmers spread over nine heats; Northwestern featured six of its top freestylers. Daniel Salovesh (Casa Grande, Ariz./Casa Grande Union) made his 2012 Big Ten Championship debut in the second heat alongside Matt Wilcox (Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji). It was Wilcox who set the pace for much of the race as he finished second in the heat with a time of 1:39.06, a new career top time. Salovesh checked in with his best time of the season at 1:41.34.

    Alexander Ratajczyk (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) and Margritier swam in heats three and four. Ratajczyk clocked in at 1:39.76, the quickest effort of his three-year career. Margritier dropped 2.66 off his previous best to finish second in his heat at 1:38.34.

    Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) continued the trend of posting career-bests with an effort of 1:37.36 in heat five. He became the first Wildcat in the event to record an NCAA `B' cut time at the conference championship Friday. Stephens earned a spot in the bonus final with that mark.

    John Frutiger (Alma, Mich./Alma) followed up yesterday's career-best in the 500 freestyle with another career-best time in the 200 freestyle. Frutiger came in under the NCAA `B' cut standard by touching the wall in 1:36.69.

    A quartet of breaststrokers also took part in Friday's 100-yard variety at the preliminary session. Tim Smith (Oakland, Calif./De La Salle) and Valcic finished first and second, respectively, in heat one. Smith came in under a minute at 58.63, while Valcic was just behind in 59.31 seconds. Both times represent career-best efforts. Brien Gerber (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) posted a time of 58.22 seconds in the second heat, which also marks the swiftest effort of the sophomore's career.

    Auren swam in the fifth and final heat. The freshman notched another NCAA `B' cut for NU and the second fastest swim in school history with a time of 54.03 seconds.

    Friday's first session concluded with the 100 backstroke. Salovesh led off in heat one with a time of 52.07, another top time for the season.

    Varun Shivakumar (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) and Ferguson were paired together in the third heat. The Wildcats swam one-two in the event with Ferguson posting the time to beat at 49.08 seconds, just ahead of Shivakumar's effort of 49.60. For both swimmers, that qualifies as a top time this season.

    Finally, the versatile Cubelic swam in the fifth of six heats and recorded the best effort of his career in 48.93 seconds. Cubelic finished 18th overall, Ferguson was 20th and Shivakumar earned the final spot at 24.

    Northwestern's diving duo of Tanner Nemkov (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) and Nick Pinkerton (f Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) participated in the three-meter springboard dive this afternoon. Pinkerton was the top finisher for the 'Cats as he placed 24th with a cumulative score of 281.40. Nemkov finished jus behind with a score of 276.75, good for 26th.

    The conference championship resumes Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The schedule for the final day includes the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 1,650 freestyle and the platform dive.

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