Men’s Swimming: Northwestern comes out ‘flat’ at Big Ten Championships, places ninth

John Paschall and John Paschall

IOWA CITY, Iowa – When senior Tony Mattar touched the wall to complete his final individual run in the 200-yard fly, he gazed up at the scoreboard and saw he placed fifth. He hopped out of the pool and searched through the sea of fans to find his parents still cheering him on. After he spotted them, he threw his hands up in the air to say “I gave it the ole college try.”

Moments later, emotions overcame Mattar as he became “misty-eyed” and realized his collegiate road was over.

That would most likely be his last swim as a Northwestern Wildcat.

The Cats came in looking to make a statement in the Big Ten, a conference that boasts five – and nearly six ­- top-25 teams in the country. But instead, this young Cats squad started flat and finished ninth out of 10 teams at the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday.

NU was not able to put a single swimmer in an “A” final and will likely not qualify anyone for NCAA Championships.

Coach Jarod Schroeder admitted the results from the first day might have set the tone for the weekend.

“We were flat all weekend long,” Schroeder said. “We didn’t have a ton of energy on the side. When you don’t put anyone into the finals after the first session, there’s something wrong. In a three-day meet, if you don’t score points on one of those days, you’re in trouble.”

Freshman Uula Auren, who had won nearly all of his races in the 100-yard breast this year, struggled as well in the meet, failing to reach the “A” final. Auren confessed he might’ve let the moment get to him in his first Big Ten Championship.

“I might have tried a little too hard,” Auren said.

Junior Charlie Rimkus, though struggling early in the meet, finished strong by winning the consolation final in the 200-yard fly, the same heat in which Mattar finished fifth.

“With (Rimkus) winning our heat at the end of the night, that was a nice exclamation point,” Mattar said. “It kind of showed that we might have been down at the beginning of the meet, but we weren’t out.”

Rimkus said the Cats needed to handle themselves mentally and physically better as they went through tough stretches in the season in January and February.

“We have to figure out how to deal with the heavy schedule we have in January and February and be successful at Big Tens,” Rimkus said. “We have to sit down as a team and discuss how we can do well in those and continue on to Big Tens and get people in to NCAAs.”

The upperclassmen tried to tell the young swimmers what Big Tens were like, but Rimkus said there was no way to fully prep them from the atmosphere.

“I thought we did a pretty good job preparing (the underclassmen) with what to expect,” Rimkus said. “A lot of them took it to heart, but they didn’t really realize the extent of the excitement to come.”

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