Day 2 of the 2015 Men’s B1G Championships has just concluded, but not without intensity, triumph and at least one unexpected surprise. Here are the 5 big things we gleaned from today’s session in Iowa:
#1 Matthew Hutchins with the 500 Free Upset – It’s not as though the young sophomore from Wisconsin did not have a solid prelim showing; after all, Matthew Hutchins came into tonight’s 500 free final as the 3rd seed after his morning swim of 4:17.00. What was refreshingly surprising about Hutchins’ 500 free win tonight was simply that all eyes were on someone else. Michigan’s Anders Nielsen was last year’s 3rd place B1G finisher and had already knocked down the pool record with his 4:14.84 swim this morning; he was the clear favorite to win. But Hutchins just threw that to the wind, swam his own race, and kept his momentum going throughout the entire effort, even as he charged all the way to the wall to out-touch Nielsen by just 6/100. Here are the split breakdowns of the duel:
Matthew Hutchins – 4:14.00
r:+0.77 23.69 49.43 (25.74)
1:15.58 (26.15) 1:41.45 (25.87)
2:07.35 (25.90) 2:33.06 (25.71)
2:58.84 (25.78) 3:24.41 (25.57)
3:49.45 (25.04) 4:14.00 (24.55)
Anders Nielsen – 4:14.06
r:+0.74 22.86 47.99 (25.13)
1:13.62 (25.63) 1:39.40 (25.78)
2:05.43 (26.03) 2:31.41 (25.98)
2:57.46 (26.05) 3:23.57 (26.11)
3:50.11 (26.54) 4:14.06 (23.95)
#2 Michigan Wolverines Have Depth….Lots of It – Even with other schools earning points in the form of first-place victories in 500 and the 1-mtr diving (Indiana), or by the combination of multiple non-title-winning A- and B-Final performances (Ohio State, Wisconsin), Michigan as a whole is a mighty fortress whose walls show no sign of cracking. In the 500 free event alone, the Wolverines retained 5 of their 7 swimmers from prelims to finals with 3 winding up in the A-race. Michigan also held 3 of the 8 A-Final spots in the 200 IM, where their 1-2-5 finish wrangled in 51 points. Same story in the 50 free, with a 1-2-4 finish to collect an additional 53 points on the night.
#3 Powers on the Rise – Freshman sprinter Paul Powers gave Michigan a thrilling victory in the splash n’ dash after having positioned himself as the #1 seed with his morning 19.21 swim. That swim broke the previous Michigan record of 19.27 held by Bruno Ortiz and zoomed Powers to the 4th-fastest time on the NCAA rankings. Powers shows improvement with virtually every swim and can also do some major damage if he’s tapped into for relays for the Wolverines.
#4 Michigan Medley Makes a Move – Speaking of relays, the foursome of Aaron Whitaker, Richard Funk, Dylan Bosch and Bruno Ortiz threw down a huge 3:04.92 400 medley relay swim to end the night. The time is just two tenths off of the Michigan school record of 3:04.73 set back in 2013, of which Richard Funk and Bruno Ortiz were a part. The only other team faster so far this year than tonight’s Wolverines was the Alabama quartet who crushed a 3:04.22 to win the SEC Championship title last weekend. Compare the splits below and you don’t have to stretch your mind too far to see a showdown at NCAAs between Alabama, Michigan, as well as other top contenders from Cal, Georgia and Texas.
Alabama’s 400 Medley Relay, SEC Champs: Michigan’s 400 Medley Relay Tonight:
Connor Oslin – 45.45 Aaron Whitaker – 46.46
Anton McKee – 51.95 Richard Funk – 51.08
Brett Walsh – 45.49 Dylan Bosch – 45.59
Kristian Gkolomeev – 41.33 Bruno Ortiz – 41.79
#5 Ohio State and Indiana in Hot Pursuit – Even with the first day’s accumulation of 281 points by Michigan, two other B1G schools are scraping together points any way they can to keep the scoring within reach. Ohio State sits second after 7 events with 211, while Indiana is a close 3rd in 199. Indiana’s Michael Hixon can certainly be counted on for über points on the boards (he won tonight’s 1mtr in a B1G record of 474.45), but both IU and OSU need every swimmer to bring his A-game to keep the contest close between last year’s respective 2nd and 3rd place teams.