Feb. 28, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Northwestern totaled seven NCAA `B' consideration time swims Thursday during the Big Ten Championships, remaining in ninth place overall after the first full day of action.
NU has 70 points, five behind eighth-place Penn State and 16 in back of 20th ranked and seventh-place Iowa.
Two Wildcats lowered their career-bests in the 50 freestyle by significant margins Thursday morning to earn scoring lanes in the consolation final of that event on Thursday night. Junior Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) first chopped .53 of a second from his previous career best -- a massive drop in such a short race -- to place 11th overall in an NCAA `B' time of 19.97. Stephens is the fifth Wildcat in school history to break the 20-second barrier in the race.
Sophomore Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst) continued his successful march back from an injury in the fall, lowering his career-best time to a `B' cut of 20.06 to earn 14th place overall after the prelims.
In that evening race, Stephens further lowered his time to 19.91 to finish 10th overall, moving him past Adam Kennedy's 2002 time of 19.96 to make Stephens officially the fourth fastest Wildcat ever in the event. Margritier would earn one point with a 16th overall 20.24, giving NU eight total points in the race.
Senior transfer Toni Valcic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Gimnazija Ledina) also won a second swim opportunity with a career 50 free, lowering his personal-best time by four one-hundredths to touch in an NCAA `B' provisional time of 20.19 and place 20th after the morning. In the evening, Valcic swam a 20.54 to place 22nd in the finals.
Freshman Jordan Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif./Malibu) cut over four seconds from his seed time in the 500 free to record an NCAA `B' consideration time of 4:24.29. After entering the event as the 23rd seed, Wilimovsky moved up to 20th and will swim in the bonus final on Thursday night.
Wilimovsky then lowered that time to another `B' cut of 4:23.82 in the bonus final, remaining 20th overall when it was all swam and done.
Senior Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman) had a tough start to his final Big Ten Championships, going slightly slower than his seed for the season to touch in 31st position with a 4:27.56. Out of Rimkus' three events at the conference meet, however, the 500 free would be considered his "weakest," and Rimkus still has excellent chances for points and NCAA qualification in the 400 IM Friday (he is the sixth seed) and the 200 fly on Saturday (he is the 10th seed).
In the 200 IM, junior Brien Gerber (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) was Northwestern's lone entry, cutting 2.04 seconds from his seed to swim a 1:54.46 and place 58th overall. Junior Nick Pinkerton (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson), NU's lone diver at the meet, scored a 255.75 on the 1-meter springboard Thursday to place 27th.
Thursday night's final event, the 400 medley relay, saw Northwestern's team of Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Mäkelänrinteen Lukio), Mark Ferguson (Peth, Australia/John XXIII) and Stephens swim to a 3:13.34 to slash nearly five full seconds from their previous season best to place seventh. Cubelic kicked off the relay with a 47.98 100 back split, which is an NCAA `B' time and just six one-hundredths of a second off of his career best in the event.
The 2013 Big Ten Championships continue tomorrow, Friday, March 1, with preliminary heats at 10 a.m. CT and finals action at 5:30 p.m. CT. Live Results are available at IUHoosiers.com.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!