The Auburn men and women both picked-off the Texas Longhorns on the first leg of a Texas double this weekend, with the Tigers men finishing with a score of 166-132 and the women taking a much closer victory of 153-145 (with an exhibition in the final relay of the meet). Auburn will next be in action on Saturday as they’ll head just east to College Station and swim against the Texas A&M Aggies.
Auburn got off to a great start in the medley relay with a 1:27.43 to easily win the 200 medley relay after Texas’ top squad DQ’ed (Auburn would have won pretty handily even without the disqualification). Auburn is still using Marcelo Chierighini on this relay (he split an awesome 20.54 on the butterfly leg) despite the addition of Brazilian butterflier Artur Mendes for this meet.
Texas, on the other hand, is looking for creative solutions to their breaststroke problem. It would seem as though their Israeli wild-card, Imri Ganiel, isn’t going to be eligible to compete for the Longhorns this season, and with the recent departure of Nick D’Innocenzo, that leaves Texas without anything really resembling a true breaststroker. That most likely leaves them turning to fast-twitch sprinters for a stop-gap on the medley relays, and Thursday that was Charlie Moore (25.82) and IM’er/new-found speedster Austin Surhoff (25.43) on this 200 medley. Those are solid times, but they both gave up some ground to Auburn’s Stuart Ferguson (24.86).
As for the aforementioned Mendes, he began his NCAA career a bit inauspiciously with a 4th-place finish in the 200 fly with a 1:52.96. That was a race won by Texas freshman John Martens in 1:49.48, which is almost his personal best. In fact, he’s now gone the four best times of his career since coming to Austin, which gives Eddie Reese one more 200 fly weapon (he’s got a good class of them coming in next fall as well).
Mendes’ second swim was much better, as he was 2nd in the 100 fly to Texas’ Tripp Cooper by margin of 49.00-49.32. The Brazilian finished his meet with a 21.53 50 free relay split. Mendes will surely settle in to yards swimming, and the Tigers will really need him to do so to take their medleys to the next level.
The Texas men’s best performance, alongside their butterfliers, came from distance swimmer Michael McBroom. Alone atop the collegiate crew of Texas distance swimmers now (with Jackson Wilcox’s graduation), McBroom had a great mid-season meet in winning the 1000 free (9:03.68) and the 500 free (4:24.51). Texas new distance crew is actually shaping up very well, as they went 1-4 in holding off Auburn’s Zane Grothe, a mile All-American, in 5th in 9:22.29. Grothe had a better swim in the 500, taking 2nd in 4:27.67.
The Auburn sprinters, as is their tendency, were in fine form here. Marcelo Chierighini swept the 50 and the 100 free in 19.87 and 43.57, respectively, with that 100 time being most impressive. James Disney-May was also under 44-seconds in the 100 in 43.98. Texas’ Clay Youngquist (44.51) and Dax Hill (45.13) took the next two spots. Hill usually waits until championship season to do his best swimming (he seems to always hit his taper, in yards at least) but this time was a bit off even for him – he was a 44.4 in this same meet last season.
On the women’s side, Auburn won a lot of races, but the Texas women kept the meet very close with a great demonstration of depth.
Hannah Riordan won the women’s 50 free for Auburn, just barely out-touching Texas junior Ellen Lobb 22.85-22.86. There’s not often much to say about a 50 free, but this race is notable because both teams will be counting heavily on these two to be the glue for their relays as both teams battle for top 10 (or higher?) finishes. Riordan would take the 100 free as well in 49.41, besting teammate Olivia Scott in 49.76.
Scott won the 100 fly in 53.35; she’s the overall national leader in the event this season, and that time specifically is the fastest official mark of 2013 as well. She beat out Texas’s sweet revelation Gretchen Jacques, who was a lifetime best of 53.77 for 2nd. Jaques’ speed improvements in all events have been unreal this season, and that gives Carol Capitani a lot more options come NCAA season.
Jaques was also 2nd in the 100 breaststroke behind Laura Sogar (1:01.21 and 1:00.99, respectively). Auburn’s Micah Lawrence was 4th in 1:01.68. Sogar also won the 200 breaststroke – the same race she swam at Short Course Worlds in December – in 2:10.32, with Lawrence 2nd in 2:12.16.
The two teams split the relays on the women’s side; Auburn won the 200 medley, and Texas but up a sterling 1:30.79 in the 200 free relay. That includes closing splits of 22.6 from Jaques, 22.4 from Lobb, and 22.3 from Bethany Adams in athis veteran group.
In a bit of turned-tables in diving (though both teams have good diving histories), the Auburn Tigers really dominated the scoring on the boards. They won every diving event aside from the women’s 1-meter.