March 1, 2013
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- NCAA `B' consideration cuts abounded for Northwestern Friday at the 2013 Men's Swimming and Diving Big Ten Championships, but in a fast and competitive day of action the majority of Wildcats earned their second swims in bonus finals.
The Wildcats remain in ninth position among the field, entering Saturday's final day of action with 100 points. NU is 14 points ahead of 10th-place Michigan State and 50 points behind eighth-place Penn State.
Northwestern's main point scoring Friday occurred in the 200 free relay, where the Wildcats' squad of Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood), Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Toni Valcic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Gymnazija Ledina) and Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst) swam to a season-best time of 1:19.62 that was 1.33 seconds faster that NU's seed in the event to place seventh in front of Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Sophomore Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) picked up Northwestern's lone scoring spot in an individual Friday final when he swam a career-best and NCAA `B' consideration time of 48.05 in the 100 fly prelims to finish 13th overall. Freshman Grant Halsall (Laxey, Isle of Man, GBR) was close himself to a scoring spot when he lowered his previous collegiate-best time by 1.23 seconds to touch in an 18th-place time of 48.38.
Ferguson shaved another five one-hundredths from his time Friday night to touch in 48.00 and climb up two spots to 11th place overall for the Wildcats, good for six total points. Halsall fell one slot to 19th in the evening with a 48.45 in his bonus final.
Senior Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman) turned in an NCAA `B' time of 3:52.04 in Friday's first event, the 400 IM, to finish the preliminary heats in 17th overall position. Rimkus' time makes him the headliner in the bonus final Friday night.
Just behind Rimkus in 19th place was freshman Van Donkersgoed (Eden Prairie, Minn./Minnehaha Academy), who slashed 8.50 seconds from his previous collegiate-best in the event to touch in an NCAA `B' time of 3:53.07 for quite an impressive first-ever swim at the Big Ten Championships.
Both Wildcats further lowered their prelim times in the 400 IM finals, with Rimkus dropping down to a 3:50.77 to win the bonus heat while Donkersgoed went 3:52.29 to place third in the heat and 19th overall. Donkersgoed nearly made it a 1-2 Northwestern finish in the heat but Ohio State's Chris Depietro surged from behind with a fast freestyle leg to overtake Donkersgoed by nine one-hundredths of a second at the wall.
Freshman Jordan Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif./Malibu) also made a nice drop in time in the 400 IM during the morning, cutting 4.95 seconds from his seed to swim a collegiate-best 3:57.38 and place 29th overall.
In the 200 free prelims, Stephens swam a career-best and NCAA `B' time of 1:37.22 to lead Northwestern with an 18th place overall finish. Just behind Stephens, also with a career-best swim in the event, was Margritier, whose NCAA `B' cut of 1:37.74 gave him a second swim bonus final lane with a 21st place finish in prelims.
At night, Stephens went a 1:38.49 to slide one spot to 19th place in the event while Margritier would end up 24th overall.
Sophomore Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrintee Lukio) and Donkersgoed each advanced to the bonus finals of the 100 breast with Auren swimming a season-best and `B' time of 54.83 to place 22nd while Donkergoed lowered his career-best in the event by 2.04 seconds to touch just behind Auren in a `B' cut of 55.05.
In that bonus final, Donkersgoed moved up two spots to finish 21st overall with another NCAA `B' effort, this one a 55.25. Auren took 24th in the event following his evening swim.
In his first Big Ten Championships after transferring from Maryland a year ago, sophomore Aaron Sears (Neenah, Minn./Neenah) lowered his season-best in the 100 breast by 2.62 seconds and shattered her career mark in the race to finish 28th overall in 56.05 after the morning action.
Northwestern's tough morning continued when Cubelic missed out on the scoring consolation final of the 100 back by just four one-hundredths of a second, swimming a `B' cut of 47.99 to place 17th overall after the morning.
Halsall snuck into the bonus final on the back end, swimming a 48.95 to finish the morning 24th overall and earn the final spot in the `C' heat. Ferguson was just .04 of a second away from joining Halsall with a career-best 48.99 that put him 26th overall after the morning, but after a couple of scratches above him, Ferguson did in fact find himself with a lane Friday night.
Cubelic went 48.53 in the evening to finish in 18th place overall in the event while Ferguson made the most of his second opportunity, again lowering his career-best time in the event to touch in 48.80 and end up 20th, a full six positions better than he finished the morning. Halsall would take 23rd place after a finals time of 49.39.
In diving action on Friday, junior Nick Pinkerton (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) placed 26th overall on the 3-meter springboard with a 276.25.
The 2013 Big Ten Championships continue through the afternoon with 3-meter diving prelims before Friday's final session gets underway at 5:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. ET in Bloomington.
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