The rosters for the USA College Challenge November 12 and 13 were released last week, and it’s safe to say the Badgers will be well-represented, with three men and three women selected to represent the Big Ten in Indianapolis this weekend.
The USA College Challenge is a two-day swim meet that pits the top swimmers in one of the major college conferences—this year, the Big Ten—against members of the U.S. National Team. The meet is a unique head-to-head format that is rare during the college season.
The six Wisconsin swimmers selected to represent the Big Ten at this meet have a variety of qualifications, but the one they all share is success in the pool on a national and, in some cases, international level.
For the women, senior Chase Kinney, sophomore Cierra Runge and freshman Beata Nelson will suit up for the Badgers in a variety of events.
Kinney is a sprint freestyle specialist from Canton, Oh., who grabbed two top-eight finishes at last year’s Big Ten Championships, as well as earning honorable mention All-America honors at the 2016 NCAA Championships. She will swim in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
Runge, a distance swimmer from Cochranville, Pa., most recently represented the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games and earned a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. She also placed third in the 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials this past summer. Runge will swim in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, as well as the mile.
Nelson is a multifaceted sprinter from Madison who has represented the U.S. on the National Junior Team. She is also the owner of the national public high school record in the 100-yard butterfly. Nelson will join Kinney in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, and will also swim the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly.
For the men, a trio of seniors will represent the Badgers: Matt Hutchins, Cannon Clifton and Brett Pinfold. All three men have had unprecedented success on the national stage in their three-plus years as Badgers.
Hutchins is a distance swimmer from Christchurch, New Zealand, who is coming off a summer where he represented his country at the 2016 Olympic Games in both the 400- and 1500-meter freestyles. A two-time All-American at the 2016 NCAA Championships, Hutchins owns the school records in both the 500-yard freestyle and the mile, both of which he will swim in Indianapolis this weekend.
Clifton is a sprinter from Irving, Texas, who swims mostly freestyle but can also perform in the butterfly. The school record holder in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, Clifton’s most recent major accomplishment was a second-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle at the 2016 U.S. Open. Clifton will swim one event in Indianapolis, the 100-yard freestyle.
Pinfold is a jack-of-all-trades in the shorter events from Sugar Land, Texas. The owner of the school record in the 200-yard freestyle, Pinfold qualified for U.S. Olympic Trials in four events across the disciplines of freestyle, individual medley, and backstroke. Pinfold will swim in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley this weekend.
The meet, which will be televised on BTN, opens tonight at 6 p.m., at the storied IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, and continues at 11 a.m. Sunday.