Feb. 7, 2004
Big Ten Top Five: Middle-Distance Freestyle (200-yard)
Based on Taper & Shave rankings and '03 Big Ten results
Terry Silkaitis, Junior, Minnesota: Silkaitis enters the 2004 conference meet as the defending Big Ten Champion in this and several other events (50 and 100 free, 200 free relay and the 400 medley relay). The 2003 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year owns a top season time of 1:37.97, eighth best in the conference, and will be ready to defend all titles. Silkaitis beat up on Iowa and Indiana in the 200 free, finishing a full second ahead of the runner-up, Collin Russel of Indiana; however, a week later in Madison, the Badgers' Eric Wiesner upset the defending champ by .23 seconds.
Dan Ketchum, Senior, Michigan: Ketchum owns the conference's top time in this race with a 1:36.71, and will be gunning to topple Silkaitis in West Lafayette. At last season's championship meet, Ketchum buried Silkaitis in the prelims, but couldn't hold off the Golden Gopher when it counted most as Silkaitis cruised with a winning time of 1:34.42. Against nationally ranked Indiana and Northwestern, Ketchum and teammate Peter Vanderkaay swapped one-two showings in the 200-free, making them the top point-stealing tandem in this event.
Peter Vanderkaay, Sophomore, Michigan: Vanderkaay has continued to improve during his sophomore campaign and has the league's second best time (1:36.98) to show for it. At the 2003 championship meet, Vanderkaay was one of the highest scoring freshman, winning the 500 free and the 800 free relay; his 200 free time of 1:36.50 placed him fifth. Vanderkaay had a great meet against No. 25 Indiana, winning two races and finishing runner-up to Ketchum in the 200 free. A week later he won the 200 and 500 free titles at No. 18 Northwestern.
Todd Minnier, Senior, Penn State: Minnier is in his final season with the Nittany Lions and will rely on his big meet experience to lead him to the awards stage. He finished seventh in the 200 free at last year's Big Ten meet with a 1:38.77. Minnier is the league's sixth fastest swimmer in this event (1:37.67), and comes into the 2004 championships with quality wins against Texas A&M, North Carolina and Rutgers under his belt. Against Ohio State, Minnier dominated his competition with a 1:38.00, nearly four seconds better than Buckeye runner-up Joe Doyle.
Eric Wiesner, Junior, Wisconsin: Wiesner has made considerable strides in this event since finishing 11th at last year's Big Ten Championships with a 1:38.32. Against Minnesota and Purdue, Wiesner scored a first-place showing with a time of 1:39.05, beating out defending champion Silkaitis. Weisner, who owns the fourth fastest conference time, has defeated all of his Big Ten opposition in this event, including swimmers from Northwestern, Indiana and Iowa.
Beyond the top five ... Andrew Hurd (Michigan) ... is coming off a 10th-place showing from last year's championship meet, and currently owns the conference's seventh-best time (1:37.70) ... 200 has become more of an off-event for him this season, but won the 200 free against Purdue and finished runner-up against Michigan State ... Sean McCaffery (Minnesota) ... forms a solid one-two combination with Silkaitis ... defeated Northwestern, but came in behind Silkaitis at the Iowa and Wisconsin triangulars ... finished third in the 200 free against Florida ... placed 12th at last year's championship meet ... Louis Paul (Purdue) ... 2003's Swimmer of the Championships could find strength with the home-pool advantage if utilized in this event ... claims Purdue's fastest times of the season in the 100 and 200 free ... also a scoring threat in the backstroke and individual medley.