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    Rimkus Leads 'Cats on Final Day of Big Ten Championships

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Chase Stephens swam the bonus final of the 100 freestyle and on the 400 freestyle relay team Saturday.
    Chase Stephens swam the bonus final of the 100 freestyle and on the 400 freestyle relay team Saturday.

    Feb. 25, 2012


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    IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Charlie Rimkus saved his best performance for last as the junior won the consolation final of the 200 butterfly to tie a bow on the 2012 Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships for the Northwestern Wildcats at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City, Iowa Saturday.

    Though he was the last swimmer to qualify in the top-16 after the preliminary swim, Rimkus delivered a spectacular performance once the race began. The junior finished strong turned in another NCAA `B' cut time of 1:46.29 to win the consolation final.

    As a team, Northwestern finished ninth at the 2012 edition of the conference meet. The Wildcats secured 157.0 points throughout the four-day event held at the University of Iowa. The Michigan Wolverines captured the team title.

    The first finalist of the evening for Northwestern was junior Varun Shivakumar (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) in the bonus edition of the 200 backstroke. After earning a season-best time earlier in the day, Shivakumar checked in at 1:48.11 in the second swim; he finished sixth in the race.

    Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) represented the 'Cats in the bonus final of the 100 freestyle. After a career-best swim in the prelims, the sophomore touched home in 45.50 seconds to finish in eighth place Saturday evening.

    Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Helsinki, Finland/Mäkelänrinteen Lukio) wrapped up his first Big Ten Championship with an appearance in the consolation final of the 200 breaststroke. The freshman reeled off a time of 2:00.06 under the lights Saturday and took home a fifth-place finish in his second heat of the day.

    The consolation final of the 200 butterfly featured Northwestern's Tony Mattar (Lake Orion, Mich./Indiana) and Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman). Rimkus' time of 1:46.29 is a new career best and the fifth-best mark in the event in NU history. He also secured the top individual finish of any Wildcat at the conference championship meet this week.

    Mattar also produced a second `B' cut effort of 1:47.53, just shy of his preliminary time. The senior finished fifth in the consolation final.

    The meet wrapped up with two intense heats of the 400 freestyle relay. The 'Cats entered as the seventh seed with a previous top time of 2:59.62. The quartet of Stephens, Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst), Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South) and Matt Wilcox (Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) combined to drop close to three seconds off the seed time to post an effort of 2:56.85. The Wildcats finished seventh in the race.

    The final prelim session of the Big Ten's biggest week began with five preliminary heats of the 200 backstroke. Northwestern's Daniel Salovesh (Casa Grande, Ariz./Casa Grande Union) was in the first heat. The junior shed 1.58 seconds off his seed time as he finished the heat in 1:50.59, his best clip of the season.

    Freshman Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) returned to the water after a busy day Friday to join the field in the second heat. He touched home in 1:51.54 Saturday morning.

    Shivakumar was the final Wildcat swimmer to partake in the 200 backstroke. He also dropped precious seconds off his qualifying time as he finished the swim in 1:46.37, an NCAA `B' cut and his best time this season. Shivakumar qualified for a spot in tonight's bonus final.

    Ten 'Cats were next in line to swim across nine heats of the 100 freestyle. Newcomer William Rosler (Bexley, Ohio/Columbus Academy) kicked things off in the first heat with a time of 46.56 seconds, a career-best mark. Ross McAuliffe (Shapwick, United Kingdom/Millfield School) swam the race in 46.38 seconds, while Wilcox finished second in that heat with a career-best swim of 44.89 seconds. Senior Jake Grosser (St. Charles, Ill./USC) posted a time of 45.94 seconds, top time for this year.

    Cubelic entered the fourth heat with the top seed time of 46.01 seconds and he lived up to the billing as he breezed past the competition in 44.71 seconds, fastest in the heat and a career-best time for the sophomore. Toni Valcic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Gimnazija Ledina) swam right next to Cubelic in lane three and finished fifth in a time of 45.50 seconds, also a personal-best.

    Another pair of Wildcats, Alex Ratajczyk (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) and John Frutiger (Alma, Mich./Alma), were placed together in heat five. Ratajczyk was the third swimmer to touch the wall in 45.02 seconds, his best effort of the season. Frutiger clocked in at 45.17, a career-best for the senior.

    Margritier and Stephens were NU's final swimmers in the 100 freestyle. Margritier posted an identical time to Cubelic's two heats prior at 44.71 seconds. That number marks a personal-best by 0.55 seconds. Stephens came in just behind at 44.78 seconds, also a career-best.

    Two underclassmen represented the Wildcats in the 200 breaststroke event. Sophomore Brien Gerber (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) led off in heat one, while Auren was placed in the fifth and final group.

    Gerber clipped 2.39 seconds off his seed time and seventy-four one-hundredths of a second of his previous career-best to touch home in 2:07.69. The Naperville, Ill., native swam fifth in the opening heat.

    Yesterday Auren posted the second best time in the 100 breaststroke in NU history at 54.03 seconds. Saturday morning the freshman followed that up with a sub-two minute effort in the 200. Auren earned a lane in the consolation final with an NCAA `B' cut time of 1:59.77, the top pace for Northwestern this season.

    The last individual event of the morning session was the 200 butterfly. Classmates John Kim (Newport Coast, Calif./Corona del Mar) and Andrew Seitz (Pleasanton, Calif./Amador Valley) swam in heat one. Kim reeled off a career-best time of 1:51.28 en route to a fourth-place finish, while Seitz turned in a time of 1:53.85. That's also the best effort of his young career.

    Rimkus was the third California-based 'Cat to participate in heat two. He turned in time of 1:48.47 and earned the final spot in tonight's consolation final.

    Mattar was the final individual swimmer of the morning for NU in heat three. The senior posted the second NCAA `B' cut time of the morning for the Wildcats with a season-best score of 1:47.30. Mattar placed 13th overall and earned a lane in Saturday night's consolation final

    Northwestern's Nick Pinkerton (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) and Tanner Nemkov (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) are in the field for this afternoon's platform diving trials. Nemkov executed his strongest finish of the meet, placing 17th overall with a career-best score. The sophomore eclipsed his previous by 67 points with a mark of 277.45 Saturday. Pinkerton finished 23rd with a score of 237.80.


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