Feb. 14, 2004
Big Ten Top Five: Distance Freestyle (500 & 1,650-yards)
Based on Taper & Shave rankings and '03 Big Ten results
Peter Vanderkaay, Sophomore, Michigan: This Wolverine has continued to dominate the distance freestyle races since grabbing a gold medal in the 500 free and a silver in the 1,650 free during last year's Big Ten Championships as a freshman (4:16.28, 14:49.63). The four-time Big Ten Swimmer of the Week has led the Maize and Blue in the distance free against all opposition, collecting victories against four of the top-10 schools in the nation (Auburn, Georgia, Texas, Stanford). The sophomore sensation holds the conference's top times this year in the 500 free (4:17.39) and the 1,650 free (15:04.31). On Jan. 31, Vanderkaay grabbed three victories against No. 18 Northwestern in the 200 and 500 free.
Andrew Hurd, Junior, Michigan: Hurd also recorded solid times at the 2003 Big Ten Championships for Michigan, scoring a seventh-place finish in the 500 free (4:22.91) and a sixth-place showing in the 1,650 free (15:12.45). The junior is second to teammate Vanderkaay on the Big Ten's top performance list in the 500 free with a time of 4:20.73. Hurd also holds the fourth-best 1,650-free time in the conference with a mark of 15:29.85.
Brendan Neligan, Junior, Michigan: Michigan's third threat in the distance freestyle events holds the fifth-best 500 freestyle time in the conference with a time of 4:25.06 and the third-best 1,650 free time with a time of 15:29.82. At the 2003 Big Ten Championships, Neligan recorded a third-place finish in the 500-free and a fourth in the 1,650 free (4:21.41, 1:02.93). The junior kicked off the season by recording the Big Ten's second best 1,000 free time of 9:13.58 against No. 6 Florida. Since then, Neligan captured a first-place showing against Purdue in the 1,000 free (9:21.49) and a second-place finish against Indiana in the 1,650 free (15:39.99).
Travis Beckerle, Sophomore, Minnesota: Minnesota's Beckerle holds the Big Ten's ninth-best performance in the 500 free with a time of 4:29.60 and the conference's second-best time in the 1,650 free with a time of 15:23.32. As a freshman, Beckerle posted a 13th-place time of 4:26.24 in the 500-free and a seventh-place mark of 15:12.67 in the 1,650 free at his first Big Ten Championship meet. The sophomore Golden Gopher captured two first-place finishes in the 500 free (4:29.62) and the 1,000 free (9:18.95) at a triangular meet against Wisconsin and Purdue a few weeks ago.
Brian Davis, Sophomore, Northwestern: The Wildcat holds fifth place or better on the Big Ten's top performance chart in the 1,000 and the 1,650 free, and is ranked eighth in the 500 free. As a freshman, Davis put together a solid outing at the 2003 Big Ten Championships with an eighth-place finish in the 1,650 free (15:90.60) and a 12th-place showing in the 500-free (4:25.27). Won the 1,000 free title early in the season against Wisconsin, but finished as runner-up or worse to competitors from Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana.
Beyond the top five ... Jorge Carral (Michigan) ... Another Wolverine who has a chance to place among the place holders in the 1,650 free ... Carral holds the Big Ten's sixth-best time in the mile race (15:38.76) ... Davis Tarwater (Michigan) ... Tarwater heads into the conference championships possessing the third-best conference time 500-free at 4:21.48, behind teammates Vanderkaay and Hurd ... earned a fifth-place finish in the 500 free at the 2003 Big Ten Championships ... William Gordon (Penn State) ... enters the Big Ten Championships with the seventh-best conference time in the 1,650 free (15:44.55) ... placed 16th in the mile at last season's championship meet.