Hoosiers Cap Championship in Fourth with Seven All-Big Ten Honorees
February 28, 2004
West Lafayette, Ind.- In a meet that honored the late Hoosier swimming coach James `Doc' Counsilman, the Hoosiers took another step forward in returning to the greatness laid forth by Counsilman. The Hoosiers finished an impressive showing at the Big Ten Championships placing fourth with 452.5 points. Included in the strong performance was four first-team All-Big Ten selections, three second-team All-Big Ten selections and a Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships in sophomore Kevin Swander.
Minnesota won the 2004 Big Ten Championships with 712.5 points. Michigan took second with 605 points followed by Northwestern in third with 478 points.
"We asked the guys at the beginning of the meet to try to get better every session, and we accomplished that," Indiana head coach Ray Looze said. "We had a very good morning session and tonight we finished it off as well as we could. I couldn't be more thrilled with the sprint, camaraderie, the effort, the heart and the courage the team showed. At the beginning of the year, we hoped to get 15 individual scorers with a minimum of 12. We ended up with 16. The best-case scenario for us to finish at this meet was fifth, but more likely seventh with the loss of diving. And we finished fourth. I guess it was just a case of where we swam above our perceived talent, and that is always real nice."
Counsilman led Indiana to six straight NCAA Championships from 1968-73 and 23 Big Ten Championships during his tenure. Indiana honored Counsilman throughout the meet with `Doc' stitched on their suits, and it showed in their performance.
For the second time in as many days, junior Murph Halasz and Swander put up record-breaking performances. Both eclipsed school records and fell just short of winning Big Ten Championships as both finished runner up in their respective event. Halasz entered the finals seeded first and despite swimming an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:44.81 in the 200-yard butterfly, he finished second.
"Automatic times are not easy to get," Looze said. "That puts Murph in the elite of the country. He has worked extremely hard. That is the culmination of a kid committed to doing things the right way. He is a wonderful kick-out guy. He is so disciplined, his splits were beautiful and I was real happy to see Murph swim so well."
Michigan's Davis Tarwater won the event in a Big Ten Conference, Meet and Pool record of 1:43.26. Halasz' time of 1:44.81 bettered his school-record, which he set during his preliminary swim.
"I am pretty excited about (the NCAA automatic time)," Halasz said. "Coach Looze told me this morning to push out sooner. So I kicked out harder off the 75-yard wall. I held on and swam hard the whole way."
Swander fell just short of winning his second Big Ten title in as many days. The Greenwood, Ind., native took second in the 200-yard breaststroke with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:56.46. The time surpassed the school mark of Sergio Lopez, who is currently an assistant coach at Northwestern. Giordan Pogioli of Purdue won the event with a pool record time of 1:56.13.
"That is an awesome time," Looze said. "Kevin is going to be one of the better breaststrokers in the country. He might already be there now, but he is going to be someone to be reckoned with. He goes about it in such a nice way. He is just trying to have fun. He is a great underdog, out of nowhere type story. It is a good personification of our team."
"I am happy, but not satisfied," Swander said. "You can never be satisfied in swimming. In four weeks I just have to go out and swim faster. I had a really good race today. Pogioli is a great swimmer. I almost came out on top tonight."
Sophomore Hank Baldwin and freshman Matt Jensen both turned in solid performances in the 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard butterfly, respectively. Baldwin improved from his 16th-place seed to take 12th overall in the event. Baldwin continued to improve his time as he went 2:02.52, which is the eighth fastest in school history. Jensen jumped up one spot from his prelim swim finish 13th overall. His time of 1:48.78 was the sixth fastest in school history.
In the 100-yard freestyle, freshman Colin Russell and senior Claes Andersson turned in career-best performances. Russell took second overall in the consolation final and 10th overall with an NCAA provisional cut time of 44.49. Andersson took 11th behind his teammate with an NCAA provisional time of 44.57. The times ranked eighth and ninth in school history.
Senior Matt Leach placed in the top eight in the 200-yard backstroke for the second consecutive year. Leach took eighth in the event with a time of 1:47.19. Sophomore Mike Jones turned in a solid last 25 yards to win the consolation final. Jones trailed entering the last turn, before coming back to win in a time of 1:47.03. The time was an NCAA provisional cut and the fifth fastest in school history.
Freshmen Ryan McNeill and Paul Sigfusson turned in top 12 performances in the 1650-yard freestyle to pick up some points for the Hoosiers. McNeill took eighth overall despite not swimming in the fastest heat. He finished with a time of 15:30.96. Sigfusson improved his seedtime to take 11th with a time of 15:39.31.
Junior Ryan Fagan completed the three-day Big Ten Championships by making it to the finals of the platform. Fagan entered the Big Ten Championships having never made it to a final. After finishing the prelims in sixth place, Fagan took fourth in the finals with a score of430.75. His score was 16 points better than his preliminary performance of 414.70.
The Hoosiers 400-yard freestyle relay capped off the event with a fifth-place finish. The team of junior David Winck, Andersson, senior Mike Payne and Russell went an NCAA provisional cut time of 2:57.29. The time was also the second fastest in school history behind only the 1991 team.
At the end of the Championships, the Hoosiers were honored with All-Big Ten selections. Leach, Halasz, Swander and Andersson all earned first team selections, while Payne, freshman Kyle Ruth and Russell were second team choices. The four first-team selections is the most since 1996. Swander was given the biggest honor of the night for a Hoosier as he was given the Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships award.
"I think it is pretty cool, but like I said before you can't get satisfied with anything," Swander said. "You have to stay hungry. We are a team that is building up, and to lose that desire, you lose that edge."
Peter Vanderkaay of Michigan and Matt Grevers of Northwestern were named co-Big Ten Swimmers of the Year. Grevers was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Michigan head coach Jon Urbanchek, who is retiring after 22 seasons, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Michigan's Jason Coben was named Big Ten Diver of the Championships, while Ohio State's Mitch Richeson was named Big Ten Diver of the Year.
The Hoosiers will return to action next week in the team's Last Chance Meet. The Indiana Open will be the final chance for competitors to earn NCAA cut times. The meet will be held on Saturday, March 6 in the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center.
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