Texas’ Drew Livingston sat out on the 1-meter, which made some sense. With roster limits, the meet well-in-hand, and Livingston already qualified for Zones, the Longhorns chose not to risk injury or a blow to his confidence by leaving him out of his best event. It is a little bit of a head-scratcher, though, that they chose to then enter him in the 3-meter. None-the-less, he made the best of this chance to win in a huge score of 527.10. This mark crushed the old conference mark, held by Eric Sehn at 451.35, and if it holds true at NCAA’s gives him a chance at challenging the indomitable David Boudia of Purdue at NCAA’s.
A&M’s Grant Nel, who broke the Championship Record on the 1-meter in Livingston’s absence, still had a very good score that was overshadowed by Livingston’s exploits. He took second in 449.40, and his teammate Cam McLean was third in 435.40. Each of the top three divers in this event are juniors that should score at NCAA’s, and will be back next year to challenge each other again.
400 yard medley relay
Think back about all of the great medley relays that the Texas Longhorns have put together over the years. From the glory years of the 2003 relay featuring Peirsol, Hansen, and Crocker, to the suit-fueled escapades of 2009. Yet, it is this Longhorn relay that walks away from this meet with the Big 12 Championship Record, and being that they haven’t looked all that rested throughout the meet, they might have eyes on the School and overall Conference Record in a few weeks in Minneapolis. As it was, they looked very balanced and solid in this race at 3:07.45. Solid describes three of the swims anyways; Jimmy Feigen’s swim would be better termed as spectacular. He split a 41.57 on the anchor leg to bring the Longhorns home to an easy win.
A&M took second in 3:11.00. They, too, got a great anchor leg; their’s being from Balazs Makany in 42.38: the second fastest 100 free split in school history. The Aggies also had another step-up swim from Amini Fonua, who this time stood in as the Aggies’ butterflier. You will recall that on day 1, Fonua was the backstroker on A&M’s 200 medley, on day 2 he A-finaled in the 50 freestyle, and later this session he has the chance to be the Aggies’ top breaststroker in the 100. In short, Fonua has been an excellent piece to help guide the Aggies through while this year’s freshman class, one of the better ones in school history, has the chance to mature.
400 yard IM
Texas has possibly the country’s strongest group of 400 IM’ers. A&M, who didn’t enter school-record holder Omar Enriquez in this event, is not very good in the 400 IM (though they have a lot of young, raw potential). Missouri has a fairly good IM’er in junior Yaniv Shnaider, but even his 3:53.2 can’t measure up to the quality of the Longhorns. This resulted in trouble for the rest of the Big 12, as Texas took the top 5 spots in this race. For the second time in this meet, sophomore Nick D’Innocenzo upset his much more accomplished teammates Austin Surhoff and Bryan Collins to victor in an individual medley race. His time of 3:44.08 is the fifth-fastest in the country this season.
Collins, who was an NCAA A-finalist last season, was second in 4:44.87, which is also in the top 10 in the country. In third place was a breakout swim from Texas junior Hayes Johnson in 4:46.97. This bettered his career-best entering the meet by nearly 5 seconds, and he is suddenly another Texas scoring threat at NCAA”s in this event.
100 yard butterfly
Texas doesn’t have on its roster a pure sprint-butterflier. Neil Caskey, who sat this race out, is more of a middle-distance, 200 yard guy (though he’s still quite good at the 100). Woody Joye has a lot of potential, but has as only a freshman still has some strength and physical maturity to build to take over that post. But luckily, the Longhorns still have on their roster the kind of pure talent and fast-twitch muscle that can win the 100 fly. Namely, top backstroker Cole Cragin, and top freestyler Jimmy Feigen powered their way to a tie for the Big 12 title in this event at 46.95. Joye was third in 47.19.
Missouri senior Anders Melin earned himself an NCAA consideration time to take fourth in 47.53.
200 yard freestyle
Texas’ Dax Hill has had a bit of an up-and-down meet. He had a so-so swim on the 800 free relay, a fantastic split of 19.0 on the 200 free relay, and then a relatively disappointing performance in the individual 50. In this, his 4th swim of the meet, it was time for Hill again to hit a peak, and that he did. He won the 200 free in a career-best time of 1:33.32 (including a 21.0 leadoff 50). Hill is still in the veritable infancy of his swimming career, and is already going times comparable to those of Longhorn Olympian Dave Walters at the same age. A year ago, it would’ve sounded crazy, but seeing Hill in London in 2012 suddenly doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
A&M’s Balazs Makany, who has been having a great meet so far, took second in 1:35.11. Texas’ Scott Jostes was third in 1:35.58.
100 yard breaststroke
Texas’ Eric Friedeland and Scott Spann are both great 200 breaststrokers, but for the second-straight year they finished first and second, respectively, in the 100 at Big 12’s. The two-time champion Friedeland’s winning time was 53.82, followed by Spann in 53.99. A&M’s Nathan Lavery appeared as though he had a chance to win this race, but in the last 10 yards, the endurance guys won out. Lavery will get another shot at them at NCAA’s though, and his 54.08 is faster than he went in March last year. Just behind him was Fonua in 54.11.
100 yard backstroke
The 100 fly-100 back double is becoming increasingly more popular in the country’s top swimmers. Cole Cragin falls into this modern mold, and after winning the 100 fly earlier in the day, he won the 100 backstroke (this time by himself) in 46.67. This is one of the best times in the country this season, and will compete well in an NCAA A-final that will see a ton of turnover from last season. His teammate Patrick Murphy, just a freshman, was second in 47.24.
A&M got a nice surprise in this race in the form of a third-place finish from John Ariens. Backstroke has been an area of concern for the Aggies all season long, but Ariens quelled those issues with a very good 47.76. He put a bit of a scare into Aggie fans after cruising through prelims in a 50.0, but came back with an NCAA consideration time in the finals.
There’s not much to say about the scoring, as final positioning is pretty-much set. Notable, though, is the fact that A&M is still slightly closer to Texas after the third day than they were at the same point last season, despite DQ’ing a 34-point relay.
1. Texas 727
2. Texas A&M 554
3. Missouri 468