Jan. 17, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue swimming and diving teams expect to extend their winning streaks when the Redhawks of Miami University come soaring into the Boilermaker Aquatic Center this Saturday for a 2 p.m. dual meet.
The Boilermaker women have won two of their last four duals in improving to 3-6, while the 12th-ranked men's program bettered its record to 5-2 following last week's 181-119 defeat of Michigan State.
Miami had been a mainstay on both Boilermaker schedules for a good part of 30 years, but the series was temporarily halted in the early part of the decade as Purdue concentrated on welcoming a wider variety of opponents to its new facility. As a result, the men have not competed since the 2002-03 campaign, and the women haven't seen battle since 2003-04.
Based on recent results, the series may have been worth interrupting. The Boilermaker men have won 23 of the last 25 meetings, with their losses coming close to a decade apart in 1981 and again in 1992. The Redhawks dominated the women's series through the 1980's but have not defeated Purdue since a 126-117 win in 1989.
"We used to have a good rivalry with some close meets in the 1980's and 90's, but then we started to pull away from them," said Purdue women's head coach Cathy Wright-Eger. "They're still one of the best teams in the MAC conference and were expecting to see some good races, especially in the freestyle."
Miami's bad luck against the Boilermakers does not carry over to other opponents, in fact, the Redhawks are perennial contenders for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) title - and last year sent distance freestyler Paul Ricard to the NCAA Championships.
The Redhawk men are 4-3 this season while their female counterparts are 5-2.
"Miami is a great team within the MAC conference, and I have a lot of respect for the program and head coach Pete Lindsay - they're always battling for the conference title," said Purdue men's head coach Dan Ross. "They're a useful opponent for us at this point in the season - they just beat their rival Cincinnati earlier this week, so I'm interested to see what their approach against us is going to be."
Purdue's primary goals on the women's side are to place Nicole Weatherman
and Elyse Dudar
in the fastest heat of the 1650 freestyle at Big Ten's and iron out some of the mistakes made last week at home vs. the Spartans.
It's hard to think the Boilermakers made many errors in their 186-112 triumph over the Green and White, but Wright-Eger said there were a few faulty finishes, false starts and rough relay exchanges that she'd like to see eliminated with practice.
Regarding the mile, Wright-Eger believes Weatherman needs to shave about eight seconds off her season best time of 16:52.20 to qualify for the conference's fastest heat. Dudar, a junior, also is a contender with a top time of 16:56.15.
The 1650 free takes place early in the meet following the opening 200 medley relay.
Ross, whose squad has raced the 1650 three times this season, is taking a different approach by replacing last week's competitors with a new group in order to keep everyone fresh. Craig Thompson, Tim Watts, Luke Zehrung, Sean Davis and David Hedge will go this week in place of youngsters Matt Stewart, Drew Wolfred and Andre Koop.
Watts was Purdue's fastest mile swimmer a year ago at 15.42.19. Stewart leads this year's group with a 15:48.62, which he posted at the Purdue Invitational.
Ross will continue to swim some of his Boilermakers in off-events for a second-straight week. As an example, sophomore Sam Wilcher will be tested in the backstroke and 400 individual medley rather than the butterfly. However, more than a few swimmers will see time in their main events in an effort to receive more repetitions.
The Spartan men, led by Adam Schmitt's three victories, won seven individual races last week as a bulk of the Purdue roster swam in off-events.
Admission to all regular-season swim meets is free. This Saturday, Purdue marketing and promotions will be giving away a free pizza courtesy of Puccini's during the first intermission, in addition to a Snowbear gift certificate and several other prizes.