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Men’s Swimming and Diving: ND to face Spartans in dual meet

Jonathan Warren | Thursday, January 19, 2012

With the Big East tournament quickly approaching, the Irish look to capitalize on their momentum when they take on Michigan State in a dual meet Saturday. The Irish have won their last two contests, a dual meet against Northwestern and the Copa Coqui tournament in Puerto Rico.

The Spartans are coming off a 180.5-107.5 loss to Big Ten opponent Purdue, who defeated the Irish earlier in the season by a similar margin, 184-113.

“We’re expecting a challenge,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “They lost to Purdue as close as we did. We’ve improved since then, but we’re expecting a close meet.”

The Spartans edged out the Irish 155.5-144.5 around this time last year in East Lansing. Now, Michigan State comes to South Bend looking to defeat the surging Irish again.

“Their front line is very fast,” Welsh said. “Typically, they race very well against us.”

One area where the Irish hope to excel is in the diving portion of the meet. Freshmen Michael Kreft and Nick Nemetz, along with Junior Ryan Koter, are coming off a sweep of both diving events against Northwestern.

“One thing in our favor is diving,” Welsh said. “[Michigan State] is thin in diving, with only one diver.”

Spartan Jacob Jarzen comes into the meet with confidence after picking up three individual first-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard backstroke and the 100-yard butterfly against Purdue. Irish swimmers sophomore Frank Dyer and junior Kevin Overholt look to repeat the success they had Saturday against Northwestern. Both swimmers finished with multiple first place performances.

With four weeks left until the Big East championships, the meet against Michigan State will be the last dual meet the Irish compete in this season before shifting focus towards the postseason.

“It’s a time when we want to be pretty sharp and rested, but still working hard to improve,” Welsh said. “We want to see what our new normal is at this meet now that we’re back from training and students are in their regular schedules again. It’ll be a good chance for us to say, ‘This is where we are, and this is what we need to do to be faster than ever.'”

With championship season in mind, Welsh hopes to see marked individual improvements.

“I need to see improvement this week,” Welsh said. “We’re all about getting better. Guys care about how much they improve. In swimming and in life, it’s important for people to commit themselves to improving and then follow through. We need guys to follow through this week.”

According to Welsh, the team is excited about its recent performance and eager to see how it translates at the Big East championships.

“We’ve done well,” Welsh said. “Were excited to see how all this is going to turn out, and we’ll get a first good look at that on Saturday.”

The Irish take on the Spartans on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Rolfs Aquatic Center.