Till Pallmann earned first-team All-Conference honors after winning the 500-yard freestyle in a MAC, MAC Championship and pool-record time.
March 9, 2013
By John Lock
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois men's swimming and diving program finished the 2013 MAC Championship in fifth place. Till Pallmann earned first-team All-MAC honors for SIU, while Calvin Kolar and Kegan Skelton earned second-team All-Conference recognition. Pallmann earned first-team honors, while Skelton and Kolar earned second-team recognition.
Southern rode a crop of newcomers and underclassmen to stay competitive a year after losing 10 seniors and two other top swimmers from a third-place team. Freshman Till Pallmann topped the list of notable Saluki performances with three top-three finishes in individual events. In fact, all three Southern athletes who earned All-Conference recognition are underclassmen.
"For more than half our team, this was their first MAC Championship," head coach Rick Walker said. "I loved our enthusiasm to rise to the big stage. Sometimes we make youthful mistakes, but you can't fault the effort our young men put out there. All our major scorers were young, and they're only going to get better."
Pallmann was the lone Saluki to win an individual event; he cruised to the 500-yard freestyle title, setting MAC, MAC Championship and pool records along the way. Pallmann's 500 free time was the second-fastest in school history. He also swam the fastest time in school history on Friday in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing third in the meet. His third top-three finish came in the 100-yard freestyle on Saturday night.
Another underclassman, sophomore Calvin Kolar, also put up times in two events that were both the second-best in school history. Kolar finished third in the conference in the 100-yard breast. He finished fourth in the 200-yard breast, becoming just the second swimmer in school history to break the two-minute barrier in the event and falling just .05 seconds short of the school record.
In diving, Kegan Skelton posted a lifetime best and finished second overall in the three-meter dive, earning second-team All-Conference recognition for the sophomore. Skelton also finished fifth in the one-meter dive and scored 31 points for SIU in his two events. Skelton posted the fifth-highest score in school history and is just the second men's diver in school history to break the 380-point mark on the three-meter board.
The microcosm of SIU's youth movement came in the last event of the Championship, where the Salukis sent four freshmen in to the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay and finished fourth. The Salukis scored 33 times in individual events, and 25 of those came from underclassmen or newcomers. Twenty-seven of those scores will return to the team next year.
Eastern Michigan won its 31st MAC Championship by a hair over Missouri State. EMU won by just six points over the Bears, the slimmest margin of victory at the MAC Championship since 1998.
The swimming season came to a close with the Championship, but Skelton will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., with four women's divers to compete in the Zone C Diving Championships from March 14-16.
1. Eastern Michigan - 772
2. Missouri State - 766
3. Buffalo - 698.5
4. Miami (OH) - 419.5
5. Southern Illinois - 391
6. Ball State - 186
7. Evansville - 162