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Men’s Swimming: Boilermakers divide to conquer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -– The 19th-ranked Purdue men’s swimming and diving team will divide into two squads this weekend as part of the team travels to The Classic at SMU, while the other part of the team stays in West Lafayette to host Ball State.

“The Classic is one of the premier events in male collegiate swimming,” head coach Dan Ross said. “I am so excited to finally get to participate in this storied event. This weekend ends a 54-day period we had circled on our calendars as the most important training period of the season. After this, it’s just getting ready for the Big Ten Championships and beyond, so I know, to a man, that they are ready to race and put an exclamation point on the ’54 Days of Greatness’.”

Last weekend, the Boilermakers improved to 5-0 in dual meets by defeating Michigan State 244-124 at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. Purdue claimed 14 event victories on the way to defeating the Spartans for the sixth straight time and taking a 19-15 lead in the all-time series.

Eight swimmers and one diver are heading to Dallas to take on one of the top fields in the country. Seniors Aaron Koger, Andre Koop and Sam Wilcher, junior Matt Stewart, sophomores Brendan Joyce, Albert Miller and Ben Wachtel and freshman Chuck Destro make up the swimming contingent while senior Kyle Mitrione is diving for the Boilermakers. Koger, Stewart and Wilcher already have posted NCAA provisional-qualifying times this season. Koger bettered the provisional standard in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Stewart eclipsed the 1,650 freestyle mark and Wilcher added his name to the 200 butterfly list. Wachtel has led Purdue in the 100 freestyle in each of the team’s seven meets this season and has won the overall crown five of those times.

Destro has won seven races this season, which have been spread out across four different events. Miller has earned four event victories this season, including two in the 100 breaststroke. Koop, who also has beaten the field to the wall in three different events so far this season, holds the fastest 200 backstroke time on the team, and Joyce, who has earned five wins this season, trails only Wilcher on the team’s top times list in the 200 butterfly. Mitrione, the only senior diver on Purdue’s roster, currently boasts the third-highest score on the team in the 1-meter and is qualified for the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships.

The Classic at SMU features six teams, each of which can bring eight swimmers and one diver. In addition to Purdue, No. 6 Florida, No. 7 Michigan, No. 13 Southern California, Mecklenburg Elite and host SMU make up the field. The Mecklenburg Elite team is scheduled to feature Cullen Jones, who won a gold medal and set a world record in the 400-meter freestyle relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The rest of the team is looking to continue its perfect start to the dual-meet portion of the schedule. Junior Chris Pfaff led off both of Purdue’s victorious medley relay squads against Michigan State, including the quartet that posted a season-best time at the 200-yard distance. Sophomore Jimmy Brooks also swam on the winning 200 medley relay, while senior A.J. Boeh and freshman Andrew Starr made up half of the winning 800 freestyle relay. Freshman Vinny Donnelly added an individual victory by beating the 500 freestyle field with a season-best time.

Purdue’s divers continued to dominate the competition as the group swept the top five places in both springboard events against Michigan State. Sophomore David Boudia was awarded Big Ten Diver of the Week honors after bettering the 1- and 3-meter fields, and junior Danny Cox moved to sixth on Purdue’s all-time performance list in the 3-meter with his score of 371.78 points.

Purdue leads the all-time series with Ball State 5-0. The teams are meeting for the first time since the 1986-87 season when Purdue claimed a 114-99 victory.

The Boilermakers face the Cardinals on Friday with action beginning from the Boilermaker Aquatic Center at 6 p.m. ET. Admission is free, and live results can be found at The Classic at SMU begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday from Perkins Natatorium, which is on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

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