Oct. 19, 2012
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Northwestern traveled to Eastern Michigan Friday to begin the 2012-13 season, falling to the defending Mid-American Conference champions in a tight back-and-forth meet, 157-141.
Northwestern began the meet with a win in the 200 medley relay, getting a time of 1:31.36 out of the team of Dominik Cubelic (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South), Toni Valcic (Ribnica, Slovenia/Gimnazija Ledina), Mark Ferguson (Perth, Australia/John XXIII) and Matthew Margritier (Leawood, Kan./Rockhurst). The 'Cats and the top Eagles' relay entered the water for the freestyle leg with the home team holding a slight edge, but Margritier's 42.10 anchor reeled in his opponent for a .64 of a second victory.
Freshman Jordan Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif./Malibu) then announced his presence in the collegiate pool, winning the 1,000-yard freestyle by a massive margin of 27.26 seconds. His time of 9:22.45 beat the Wildcats' top time in the event all of last season: a 9:24.27 turned in by Charlie Rimkus (Tustin, Calif./Beckman) against Notre Dame in January.
Chase Stephens (Madison, Wis./Edgewood) was Northwestern's top finisher in the 200 free, touching the wall in nearly a dead heat at 50 yards before ending up second with a 1:41.20. A 1-3-4 finish from Eastern Michigan gave the hosts an early 28-27 lead in the meet.
The Eagles -- who are riding a current 60-meet unbeaten streak in their conference -- then won the 100 back, followed by a trio of Wildcats in second through fourth. Cubelic swam a 50.23 to pace the group that also included freshman Grant Halsall (Laxey, Isle of Man, GBR) and Varun Shivakumar (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd).
With NU's top breaststroker Uula Auren (Helsinki, Finland/Mäkelänrinteen Lukio) out while recovering from an injury, junior Brien Gerber (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) stepped up and nearly took the 100 breast, swimming neck-and-neck for the lead before taking second by .18 of a second in 58.97.
With NU trailing by 11 points entering the 200 fly, Rimkus got the Wildcats back on track with a winning time of 1:49.80 in the event. Margritier and Valcic then finished 1-2 in the 50 free for Northwestern, with Margritier swimming a 20.76 and Valcic a 21.09. Senior Alexander Ratajczyk (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) scored two points in the race with a time of 21.43.
The Wildcats still trailed by nine points at the halfway point of the meet, but immediately surged back in front with a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 free. Margritier won his second individual event with a 45.95 followed by Stephens with a 46.07 and Cubelic in 46.46.
The back-and-forth meet continued with an Eastern Michigan win in the 200 back. Shivakumar was NU's top finisher with a second-place 1:51.93. Gerber then garnered his second second-place swim of the day, going 2:08.44 in the 200 breast to finish just in front of teammate Van Donkersgoed's (Eden Prairie, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) third-place effort of 2:09.02.
A 1-2 finish from NU's stellar distance duo of Rimkus (4:35.50) and Wilimovsky (4:39.91) in the 500 free pulled the Wildcats up on top by one point, 113-112, but Eastern Michigan won the next event in a wild 100 fly.
NU's Halsall was second at the 50-yard mark by .15 of second while Ferguson was fifth by a wide margin. Ferguson made a furious comeback, swimming the final 50 yards nearly a half second faster than any other competitor in the pool. His time combined with a strong Halsall swim netted each a second-place time of 51.04, just three-hundredths of a second behind the Eagle winner.
Junior Nick Pinkerton (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) was Northwestern's lone diver in the meet. He took third on the 1-meter board during the first break with a 260.40 and fourth on the 3-meter board during the second break with a 276.23.
Eastern Michigan had a commanding lead with more divers competing in the meet, and it sealed its victory with a win in the 200 IM. Rimkus captured second in the event with a 1:52.16 for the Wildcats. NU then ended the meet by holding off an Eastern Michigan charge in the 400 free relay, getting a 3:03.68 winning time from Margritier, Cubelic, Ratajczyk and Stephens.
Northwestern now has two weeks off following its opening meet of 2012, returning to action at 4 p.m. CT Friday, Nov. 2, against UIC and Western Kentucky at the Norris Aquatics Center.
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!