Feb. 27, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The 2013 Big Ten Championships began with a bang Wednesday evening with a franticly fast pace in the opening two relays that constitute the preview session to the main event starting Thursday.
The opening race of the 2013 Big Ten Championships set an incredible pace with five relays earning NCAA `A' automatic qualification times in the 200 medley relay and two more (including Northwestern) netting `B' consideration times that were less than two tenths of a second away from `A' cuts. Four schools swam faster than the winning time in the event in 2012, and Michigan's winning time this season lowered the existing Big Ten record by more than a full second.
Northwestern's team of Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Mäkelänrinteen Lukio), Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) and Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst) swam the fourth-fastest time in the event in NU program history, touching in a seventh-place `B' time of 1:26.57, just 19 one-hundredths of a second away from an `A' cut and .16 of a second behind sixth-place Minnesota.
Boding well for Auren this weekend was the fact his 50 breast split was the third fastest in the pool at 23.96.
In the second and final event of Wednesday evening's "soft open," Northwestern's 800 free relay squad comprised of Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman), Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood), Cubelic and Ferguson cut more than 10 seconds from the Wildcats' seed time to swim a 6:33.45 and place 10th overall, which is exactly what NU was seeded entering the event. Five more B1G squads earned `A' cuts in the 800 free relay and Michigan once again lowered the conference record to set the stage for what should be a blazing meet all weekend long.
Rimkus took the NU 800 free relay out in a 200 freestyle NCAA `B' consideration time of 1:37.80 and Stephens was able to gain some ground on ninth-place Purdue in the second leg before the Boilers pulled away at the end to leave NU with 14 points in the event.
After the two events, Northwestern is tied for ninth place with Michigan State with 38 points, two shy of eighth-place Purdue. The 2013 Big Ten Championships get underway in earnest tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 28, with preliminary heats at 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET before finals at 5:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. ET.
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