Feb. 25, 2006

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CLEVELAND - For the Cleveland State men's swimming and diving team, the 400 yard freestyle relay wasn't so much a race as it was a victory lap. With the 2006 Horizon League Championship already secured, the Vikings could swim with the confidence of knowing they'd won their third league championship and first since winning back-to-back titles in 1998 and `99.

The Vikings finished the meet with a score of 784, holding off Wright State, who ended up with 742.5.

CSU, which entered the final day leading the three-time defending champion Raiders by 67.5 points (579-511.5), came firing right out of the gates as junior Bjorn Schantz claimed his third freestyle event of the week with a 15:38.81 in the 1,650 freestyle.

Senior Pieter Pelzer followed Schantz's lead, claiming the 200 backstroke in a school-record time of 1:47.42 for his second title of the tournament and the second season in a row that he has swept the event in the championship.

"I'm speechless," a beaming Horizon League Co-Men's Coach of the Year Wally Morton said. "Winning this kind of championship is so hard and takes so much work. You have to do it in the pool, but you also have to do it out of the pool and work as a team, and this team did just that."

The depth of the Vikings' lineup carried the team the rest of the way, as CSU received crucial swims from several underclassmen.

Sophomore's Brady Lusk and Khaled Elgamal followed up Schantz with strong times in the mile, with Lusk placing sixth with a time of 16:15.10 and Elgamal swimming to a ninth-place 16:30.86. In the 200 back, sophomore Ari Markle backed Pelser's showing with a fifth-place time of 1:54.84. Meanwhile, freshman Michael Langley outpaced seven other swimmers in the B final to claim ninth in 1:55.07.

Freshman Marko Milenkovic gave Wright State's Rafael Candido all he could handle in the 200 breaststroke, finishing just off the Raider's pace with a second-place time of 2:05.05. Sophomores Dave Duecker and Nedim Nisic aided the Vikings' effort in the following 200 fly, placing fourth and sixth with times of 1:51.26 and 1:52.58, respectively.

"We didn't talk about winning the championship during the season," Morton continued. "We only concerned ourselves with doing what we needed to do on a daily basis to be the best we could be.

"A true team makes everyone around them better."

The honors continued for the Vikings following the meet, as Schantz claimed both the Men's Swimmer of the Meet award and the Male Swim Athlete of the Year crown, senior Thatcher Carr captured his second Diver of the Meet award and head diving coach Rich Karban earned his third-straight Men's Diving Coach of the Year award.

Cleveland State finished the meet with eight individual and a pair of relay titles, including three by Schantz (500, 1,000 and 1,650 free) and Pelser with two (100 and 200 backstroke).

The champion Vikings finished third in the victory lap.

Men's Scores
Cleveland State - 784
Wright State - 742.5
UIC - 660.5
UW-Green Bay - 527
UW-Milwaukee - 512
Butler - 201

Cleveland State Men's Achievements
Men's Individual Champions

200 freestyle - Daniel Thomasson
500 freestyle - Bjorn Schantz
1,000 freestyle - Bjorn Schantz
1,650 freestyle - Bjorn Schantz
100 backstroke - Pieter Pelser
200 backstroke - Pieter Pelser
1m diving - Chris Dalman
3m diving - Thatcher Carr

Men's Relay Champions
400 medley relay - Pelser, Milenkovic, Nisic, Norling
800 freestyle relay - Thomasson, Milenkovic, Nisic, Schantz

Men's School Records
800 freestyle relay - Thomasson, Milenkovic, Nisic, Schantz (6:41.87)
500 freestyle - Bjorn Schantz (4:24.65)
100 backstroke - Pieter Pelser (49.58)
200 backstroke - Pieter Pelser (1:47.72)

Men's Championship Records
800 freestyle relay - Thomasson, Milenkovic, Nisic, Schantz (6:41.87)