Northwestern Wildcats Emerge Victorious As Freshmen Lead Charge Against Eastern Michigan In Tight Finish

The Eastern Michigan Eagles played host to the Northwestern Wildcats on Thursday afternoon with the men from Evanston leaving with their first win of the season 161-139. The Wildcats won 8 events individually and also swept the relays while the Eagles grabbed 6 events with the inclusion of diving.

The Wildcats got off to a strong start thanks to a winning effort in the 200 medley relay by freshman Alex Snarski (23.34), senior Uula Auren (25.45), freshman Nick Petersen (22.48), and freshman Almog Olshtein (20.24) who combined to go a 1:31.51. This was good enough to edge out the top Eagles quartet who finished just behind in a 1:31.98 while Northwestern’s ‘B’ relay took third in a 1:34.01.

National Team Member Jordan Wilimovsky kept the Wildcats rolling with a top finish in the 1000 free in a 9:14.36. He was very comfortable early in the race and was able to negative split the race 4:38.37/4:35.99 to outpace the competition by nearly a full 50. Finishing second for the Eagles was sophomore Kyle Lichtenberg (9:40.69), while senior Franco Petrone (9:45.96) rounded out the top 3 for EMU.

Junior Andrew Henry (1:39.48) secured the first win for the Eagles Thursday night as he captured the event title in the 200 free. He led throughout the race and was notably the only swimmer out under 50 seconds in the first 100 (he was out in a 48.53). His effort bested  a pair of Northwestern sophomores in Charlie Cole (1:41.15) and Jonathan Lieberman (1:43.29) who took 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Snarski came back from the medley relay to snag his first individual collegiate event win with a top finish in the men’s 100 back in a 49.75. He was about a second ahead of teammate Andrew Jovanovic (50.71) while EMU sophomore Cole Bateman broke up the NU stranglehold with a 3rd place finish in 50.75.

Auren kept Northwestern rolling with a victory in the men’s 100 breast in a 56.94. Both of his splits were the fastest in the field and he used his speed to outpace his top EMU competitors Kyle Aerne (57.35) and Christopher Hodges (57.64) who rounded out the top 3.

Eastern Michigan grabbed another event title thanks to sophomore  Marcin Rzyski‘s effort in the 200 fly, where he emerged victorious in a 1:51.15. Though he led throughout, Rzyski was just able to hold off a hard-charging Wilimovsky who had the fastest back half in the field (57.46) en route to taking 2nd in a 1:51.98. This trademark finishing speed helped Wilimovsky just outtouch EMU’s Krzysztof Gilski who had to settle for third in a 1:52.01.

In the 50 free, freshmen continued to make their mark for the Wildcats as Olshtein blitzed the field to win in a 20.90. An Israeli import, Olshtein got his first taste of individual short course yards racing action with this race, and he was able to touch just in front of Eastern Michigan’s Brian Moore (20.95), while  freshman Gage Kohner notched his first top 3 finish with a 21.23.

Moore was able to get some revenge in the 100 as he led an EMU 1-2 finish along with teammate Andrew Henry as they turned in 45.82/46.09 efforts respectively. Olshtein was the top NU competitor as he grabbed third in a 46.52.

Snarski remained hot as he snagged his second individual victory of the meet with a 1:49.50 effort in the 200 back. He was out especially fast (52.42) and this was nearly a full 2.5 seconds faster than the rest of the field was during the first half of the race. Bateman snuck in for second with a 1:51.44 of his own while Jovanovic rounded out the top 3 with a 1:52.59.

Junior Van Donkersgoed (2:06.97)  of Northwestern had JUST enough to grab the 200 breast ahead of EMU’s Mike Fisher (2:06.99) and Christopher Hodges (2:07.06). Fisher and Hodges both had faster closing splits, but it was Donkersgoed’s superior third 50 that enabled him to hold off the fast charging Eagles in the final laps.

Wilimovsky returned to complete the distance double with a top time of 4:34.56 in the 500 free. Charlie Cole gave the Wildcats another 1-2 finish as he cruised into second place with a 4:38.64 of his own while Kyle Lichtenberg grabbed third for the Eagles in a 4:40.86.

Gilski came off his third-place finish in the 200 butterfly to take top honors in the 100 yard variant of the stroke with a 50.15 effort. Not far behind was Northwestern’s Grant Halsall (50.30) while Nick Petersen grabbed his first collegiate top 3 finish with a 51.34.

Snarski completed his trifecta of wins with a top finish in the 200 IM as he won once again in comfortable fashion with a 1:53.77. Halsall completed an impressive double by returning from his second place finish in the 100 fly to grab another second place finish with a 1:55.49. Ethan McNally took third for the Eagles in a 1:55.92.

In the final swimming event of the afternoon, the Wildcats displayed their young speed one last time as the foursome of  Olshtein, Petersen, Kohner, and Jovanovic combined to win in a 3:05.31 (no splits available). They were just over a half-second ahead of the top contingent from EMU (3:05.94), while EMU’s ‘B’ relay took third in a 3:09.86.

In diving action, Eastern Michigan’s Jordan Lesser took top honors in the 3 meter diving event with a top score of 345.08. Northwestern’s Andrew Cramer and John Andrade rook 2nd and 3rd respectively behind Lesser with scores of 332.40 and 300.31. In 1 meter diving action, EMU was able to take the top two spots thanks to Alexander Chan (326.02) and Lesser (306.52). Cramer took third again for NU with a 288.45 point effort.

Full results here

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About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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