Feb. 26, 2005
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Boilermakers finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships with 351 points, marking the fourth straight year of improvement for Dan Ross' team.
After placing eighth in 2001 and 2002, the Old Gold and Black climbed to seventh in 2003 and were sixth in 2004. The Boilermakers' 351points are the most scored by a Ross team since the 1997 team scored 384 points en route to a fourth-place finish.
The final showing was bittersweet for Ross, who believed his team should have done a little better.
"With the exception of Louis in the 200 IM, we got off to a very, very slow start, which was tough to come back from," said Ross. "I think if we had done some things better, we could have caught Northwestern for fourth, but that's the way it goes."
Senior Louis Paul and freshman Romain Maire got the ball rolling early with their third and sixth-place showings in the 200 back. Paul secured his second NCAA automatic cut of the meet, touching the wall in 1:43.85, while Maire posted an NCAA provisional mark of 1:44.85.
Giordan Pogioli's attempt to win back-to-back titles in the 200 breaststroke was derailed by Indiana rival, Kevin Swander, who beat him 1:56.16 to 1:57.74. Purdue scored three people in this event, as freshman Jin-Soo Kim won the consolation final in 2:00.43 and Steve Miskovetz placed 15th in 2:03.66.
Purdue trailed Ohio State for most of the meet, but finally caught the Bucks after the 200 butterfly, where Blake Scholz and John Mullen combined for 19 points. Scholz earned his first ever top-eight finish at Big Ten's with a fifth-place time of 1:49.14, and Mullen placed 12th in 1:50.23.
The Boilermakers clinched the No. 5 spot after scoring five divers off the platform tower. Sophomore Steven LoBue
was Purdue's top performer, coming in third place with 547.40 points, breaking the varsity record of 535.10 he set in prelims. Veterans Josh Karshen
, Clayton Davis
, J.R. Hillis and David Hanisch
all scored during prelims, combining for 20 points.
The Buckeyes were shut out of both the 200 fly and platform tower events, allowing the Boilermakers to make an easy climb. For good measure, Purdue beat OSU in the 400 free relay by two places.
The relay of Paul, Maire, Mullen and Trey Smith placed sixth in 2:57.63, just missing the varsity record of 2:57.49, which has stood since 1998. The Buckeyes were eighth in 2:58.50.
Unfortunately, the first through fourth places were out of Purdue's reach. The host Golden Gophers held on to beat IU by three points, 720-717, thanks to their win in the 400 free relay. Indiana led 685-680 after scoring eight divers off the platform, but the Gophers' relay simply dominated the Hoosiers', beating them by more than four seconds.
Northwestern nearly played the role of spoiler in the final event, finishing second by just .53 seconds. Anything but a Minnesota win on the final relay, would have clinched the meet for Indiana.
Michigan was a distant third, finishing with 482 points, and Northwestern came in fourth with 432 points. Coming in behind Purdue were Ohio State (293), Wisconsin (259), Penn State (250), Michigan State (184) and Iowa (104).