- Dates: Wednesday, February 27th Saturday March 2nd; Prelims 11 AM, Finals 6:30 PM
- Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: Michigan (results)
- Live Results: Will be available, no link yet
- Live Video (If available): Will be available, no link yet
- Championship Central
The Michigan men thumped Ohio State in their dual meet two weeks ago by margin of 251-75 (though there were a few missing for the Buckeyes that could’ve made that score at least a little tighter). Michigan put a big hurt on Indiana earlier in the season as well by roughly the same margin. The Wolverines have big wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well, and Purdue. They’ve run through the conference dual meet schedule this year in a way that would lead one to believe that they are going to run through these Big Ten Championships.
Even though they’ve been so fast so many times, they keep showing the ability to put up huge times meet-after-meet-after-meet. Of course, in some regards these are just “huge times” in the sense of mid-season meets. Will they have enough to win at NCAA’s? I think at this point, nobody really knows. The Michigan faithful might have a lot of confidence in what they’re doing, but I don’t think anyone would say they know exactly where this season is headed for Mike Bottom’s crew..
Regardless, the Wolverines are the best team in this conference, and should take this meet. But if there were ever an appropriate time for a “meets aren’t won on paper” warning, this would be it.
Ohio State has a lot of very good pieces, as does Indiana, as do Minnesota and especially Penn State. Heck, there’s not really a team in this conference (unlike some we’ll see in the next few weeks) that doesn’t have at least one or two really good pieces. That’s what makes this meet fun. There isn’t a big section of the conference that are traditional doormats. Teams go up and down, yes, but generally speaking they’re all solid programs and all have a chance at a title somewhere. That should make for a fun meet that keeps all 10 teams engaged and rowdy, which should lead to very good swims.
(Note: This rock-solid Big Ten men’s meet remains the most stable of the conferences. Nebraska came in, no men’s team. Next are coming Maryland and Rutgers, the letter with no men’s team either and the former with no team at all. The same good-old 10 men’s squads are in this meet as every year.)
Indiana – Eric Ress (junior backstroker), James Wells (junior backstroker/butterflier), Cody Miller (junior breaststroker/IM’er), Steve Schmuhl (sophomore butterflier) – This team sets up better for NCAA’s than Big Ten’s. They need their sprinter Daniel Kanorr to be a monster for them.
Iowa – Jordan Huff (senior freestyler), Grant Betullus (sophomore backstroker), Byron Butler (senior backstroker), Roman Trussov (freshman breaststroker) – The Hawkeyes are down a bit after a watershed season last year, but at this point they’re firmly entrenched as an upper-tier team in this conference.
Michigan – Bruno Ortiz (sophomore sprinter/breaststroker), Miguel Ortiz (senior sprinter/backstroker/butterflier), Connor Jaeger (junior distance), Zach Turk (senior sprinter), John Wojciechowski (junior butterflier), Kyle Whitaker (junior IM’er), Dylan Bosch (freshman butterflier/IM’er) – We could literally fill an entire post just about Michigan’s stars. That’s why they’re national championship contenders.
Michigan State – Jacob Jarzen (senior backstroker/butterflier), Bryan Williams (junior butterflier), Kyle Workman (sophomore butterflier) – Is this the year that the country finally takes notice of how good Jacob Jarzen is?
Minnesota – Derek Toomey (junior sprinter), CJ Smith (sophomore distance), Jared Anderson (senior breaststroker), Josh Hall (senior breaststroker) – The Golden Gophers have a good mix of youth and experience on their team this year. Pressure is on Toomey to continue the great sprint tradition in the Twin Cities.
Northwestern – Jordan Wilimovsky (freshman distance), Uula Auren (sophomore breaststroker), Charlie Rimkus (senior butterflier/IM’er) – Rimkus is a leader of this team looking to finish his season on a high note after making the B-Final of two events at Winter Nats. As an aside, doesn’t it feel like he’s been at Northwestern forever?
Ohio State – Jason Schnur (senior sprinter), Zach Birnbrich (senior sprinter), Tim Phillips (junior btterflier/sprinter), Zach Holmes (senior freestyler), Shane Miszkiel (junior diver) – the Buckeyes have a very good, very experienced sprint group. If Phillips is on his game, they could challenge Michigan in the free relays. Ohio State has also taken over the very prestigious mantle of best diving group in the Big Ten.
Penn State – Shane Ryan (freshman sprinter/backstroker), Sean Grier (junior backstroker/butterflier), Nate Savoy (sophomore backstroker), Matt Salig (junior butterflier) – This team is a solid breaststroker away from having top-8 medleys at NCAA’s. Sean Grier is really good; this team is very reminiscent of their women’s team in terms of their strength in the medleys, plus a very good freshman sprinter.
Purdue – Jamie Bissett (sophomore diver), Danny Tucker (junior sprinter), Brian Kiel (junior backstroker), Guillermo Blanco (sophomore IM’er) – The Boilermakers are finally starting to get their legs back under them on diving, and with Tucker at the front have a good sprint group to go with it.
Wisconsin – Daniel Lester (senior butterflier/IM’er), Michael Weiss (senior mid d/IM’er), Drew Teduits (sophomore backstroker) – This team has two bona-fied stars in Lester and Weiss, the former of whom won’t have a conflict with the Aussie Olympic Trials this year.
100 Fly – This is the race of the meet; not just because there’s so much speed (three guys are seeded under 47’s, and there’s probably four or five who have the capability to get under 46 at year’s end). This race will also be great just because of the number of different teams who will be represented at the top. Jacob Jarzen from Michigan State is the top seed, Sean Grier from Penn State is 2nd; All-Americans Sean Fletcher and John Wojciechowski from Michigan will be in the mix too. Tim Phillips, a National Team level swimmer, is back in the Big Ten and Ohio State after a red shirt season; his teammate Jason Schnur has enough speed to get into the A-Final too. Wisconsin’s Daniel Lester was 2nd in this race at last year’s meet. Iowa’s Byron Butler should approach the 47-second barrier as well. Simply put, we could see as many as 7 or 8 different schools represented here, and there’s about 20 different guys who have a chance at scoring a top-8 finish.
100 Breast – Indiana’s Cody Miller has never lost a breaststroke final at a Big Ten Championship meet through two years. In 2013, though, he might get his biggest push yet. The Championship Record in this race (52.24) will surely go down. The bigger question is by how many swimmers, and who will stand tallest at the end of the day? Last year, Michigan’s Bruno Ortiz and Richard Funk were 2nd-and-3rd as only freshmen, and this year both have already taken their careers to the next level. That’s especially true for Funk, who will be the top seed and is better mid-year than his time from this meet last year with a 53.08. Ohio State has some good young breaststrokers as well, and the Minnesota duo of Jared Anderson and Josh Hall are both also returning A-finalists. Iowa freshman Roman Trussov, a 19-year old Kazakhstan import, is a bronze medalist from the last World Junior Championships.
50/100 Frees – These sprints, with so many big-time “sprinting” programs in the conference, could be especially good this year. Zach Turk and Jason Schnur will both flirt with the 19.0 barrier in the 50. Miguel Ortiz from Michigan and his brother Bruno Ortiz could both chase Schnur in the 100. A Big Ten sprint race wouldn’t be complete without a Minnesota Gopher, and we’ve got one of those too in Derek Toomey. Even Purdue is getting in on the fun, with junior Danny Tucker having been 43.8 in his 100 free this season.
This is not a case of a meet where the finals become largely exhibitions for the top team like we’ll see in the Big 12. But, with how well Michigan has swum this year, I don’t see any way that Ohio State has made up the nearly 200-point gap on them since last year’s meet.
As for the battle for 2nd-place, it should come down to a matchup between Indiana and Ohio State once again; Ohio State was only about 3.5 points ahead last season of Indiana. Both teams lose some significant pieces of their Big Tens lineup, but both teams got huge pieces back (Eric Ress for Indiana, Tim Phillips for Ohio State) from redshirts. Both teams have powerful, powerful diving squads. It’s no wonder they were so tightly-matched at last year’s meet: the two teams are built in very much the same model.
We’ll give the edge to Ohio State on the basis of their sprinting strength, which remains a big weakness for Indiana. Indiana will be swimming at home though, so if the local student body shows up and is loud, it could sway things in their favor.
Minnesota will have a tough go hanging on to their 4th-place position from last year now that Kyler van Swol is done for the year. Iowa graduated too much to stay there as well, so we like Penn State to jump up a few rungs. Wisconsin has a few very good pieces, but their aim is likely more toward NCAA’s, where their small nucleus of talent can make a big scoring dent.
I still really like the Iowa team, after graduating a lot of their sprinters. Their medley relays should still be in the top half of the conference. With another year to mellow and mature, this team could be back looking at the top-4 again.
1. Michigan Wolverines
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Indiana Hoosiers
4. Penn State Nittany Lions
5. Minnesota Golden Gophers
6. Iowa Hawkeyes
7. Wisconsin Badgers
9. Michigan State