Meet The Spartans

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Ilia Ayzenshtok owns Purdue's top times in the 100 and 200 back this season.
Ilia Ayzenshtok owns Purdue's top times in the 100 and 200 back this season.

Jan. 10, 2008

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's swimming and diving teams return home to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center this Saturday for a 1 p.m. co-ed dual vs. Big Ten Conference rival Michigan State.

Both Boilermaker clubs have had their way with the Spartans over the past decade. The Purdue men have topped MSU in 10 of their last 11 meetings, with their last loss in the series coming at East Lansing in 2003.

The Purdue women lead their all-time series with the Green and White 21-8 following a 272-81 victory at a quadrangular held earlier this season at Penn State. In fact, head coach Cathy Wright-Eger's teams have not lost to the Spartans since 1988.

With both women's squads employing young student-athletes, Wright-Eger doesn't expect Saturday's dual to be an ultra-fiece battle between rival schools. Instead, the veteran head coach believes the swimmers and divers will be going through a more internal competition.

"Although we beat them earlier this year, I don't sense there will be a revenge factor on Michigan State's part unless it's a real close meet, and they do have some great swimmers who will push our girls," said Wright-Eger. "But I think at this meet we'll see individuals really testing their limits and challenging themselves in order to get ready for Big Ten's."

Dan Ross' 12th-ranked men's squad began its dual season 4-0, but recently suffered consecutive narrow defeats at No. 5 Florida last weekend. The Boilermakers expect to rebound against the Spartans, but Ross plans on making several adjustments in order to challenge some of his younger swimmers and those who may be on the bubble for making the Big Ten roster.

"I need to find a way to challenge some of the younger guys, so I hope the Spartans beat Valpo before coming down here and come after us with guns blazing," said Ross. "We've won handily the last few times against them, but it's always tough. I want them here competing as if they expect to beat us."



A highlight of Saturday's dual will be the distance races taking place early in the meet. The men compete in the mile, while the women give it a go in the 1000 free, giving fans an opportunity to gain a good look at the talents of senior Nicole Weatherman.

A Las Vegas native, Weatherman won both the 500 and 1000 free this past weekend at the Arizona State quadrangular. Overall, she has won seven individual events this year, compiling top times of 4:54.62, 9:58.91 and 16:52.20, which is an NCAA provisional cut.

"Nicole is a great role model for this young team," said Wright-Eger. "She has demonstrated great patience and her winning only proves that anyone can do it if they work hard enough. It's amazing to see how far she has improved over the past year. She's doing everything she's supposed to at practice, and it's because of her day-to-day input that she's now consistently winning for us."

Admission to all Boilermaker regular season swim meets is free. A free Puccini's pizza from will be given away during the first intermission following the 50 freestyle.