Swimmers in second after first day at Big Tens

by Brian Stensaas

ANN ARBOR, Mich., — After day one of competition at the men’s Big Ten swimming and diving championships, few surprises have been seen at the Canham Natatorium.
Depth-powered Michigan leads the prowl with 213 points, thanks largely to a top-three sweep, 53-point finish in the 200-yard individual medley.
The real race at this point is for second place. Defending champion Penn State has 164 points while Minnesota is right behind with 162. And according to Gophers’ coach Dennis Dale, 162 points is right where Minnesota wants to be.
“We knew that we would have a tougher time on the first day than a year ago,” Dale said. “I discussed it with coach (Kelly) Kramer and we had 143 last year, with the relay disqualified. And I said if we are above 143 (after day one), we’ll be fine.”
The event the Gophers were disqualified in a year ago, the 200 freestyle relay, was won by Minnesota to start the meet off on the right foot.
But from that point, the Wolverines led the charge with their depth to build a comfortable lead. While they didn’t win many events, they did place swimmers high enough to earn points.
Minnesota crowned two individual champions after day one.
Ricardo Dornales successfully defended his 1999 title in the 50 freestyle, and made a name for himself in the process. The sophomore swam a 19.60 in the finals, automatically qualifying him for the NCAA meet and setting a school record and Big Ten meet record.
“I am very happy about it,” Dornales said. “I think that after my fast time in the morning (19.70) I felt that I could go out and do the same, and I did that.”
Minnesota also took home the championship in the 200 medley relay to close out the first day and Dornales was a part of that win too.
“If we were to have a swimmer of the day, no question it would go to Ricardo,” Dale said. “He went out there and gave us what we needed; three great 50 frees. He’s done well today, and he’s one tired puppy.”
Junior diver Dan Croaston dropped a spot from a year ago, taking second on the 1-meter. He was defeated by Indiana’s Tom Davidson, who consistently had pure dives with pinpoint accuracy.
Minnesota diving coach KZ Li summed up the day on the boards.
“The top two divers, to me, were very good tonight,” Li said. “Tom Davidson was very consistent with very good quality and deserved the first place. Even though Dan was not happy with the second place, that’s good for him to be thinking that way.”
The next two days will be critical for the Gophers. And catching up with Michigan will be the hinge the meet turns on for Minnesota.
There has yet to be a backstroke or butterfly event raced, though there will today, and both events have to be good for the Gophers in order for them to have a chance.
“Michigan has been swimming very, very well and in order for us to make our move, we have to swim well tomorrow,” Dale said. “Our third day is a good day, but if we are ever going to make a move, (Friday) has to be our day.”

Brian Stensaas covers swimming and diving and welcomes comments at [email protected]