- Dates: Wednesday February 27th – Saturday March 2nd; Prelims at 10AM, Finals 6PM
- Location: Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center (Central Time Zone)
- Defending Champion (MEN): Texas (results)
- Defending Champion (WOMEN): Texas A&M (results)
- Live Results: Results link.
- Live Video: Available for those with Big 12 Network credentials
- Championship Central
When examining the impact of the recent conference realignments on the college swimming championship season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a region that has seen a bigger shake up than the Big 12. With Nebraska and Colorado (although the Buffs don’t have varsity men’s or women’s teams) departing in 2011, and Texas A&M and Missouri bolting for the SEC this season for a better athletic revenue model, the conference is down to eight of it’s twelve charter members, but has brought in some fresh blood. Texas Chrisitan University (TCU) and West Virginia are new members to the conference and look to make their marks at the upcoming men’s and women’s Big 12 (with only 10 schools overall, while the Big Ten has 12 schools) Championships this weekend at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, TX.
Let’s get one thing out of the way… Though TCU (look for backstroker Cooper Robinson and IMer Mitchell Adshead) and West Virginia (sprinter Julian Vialette) bring some quality swimmers to the table, the Texas men have approximately a 99.9% chance of winning this meet. Although the Longhorns will be saving their big guns for NCAA’s, the overall speed and depth of the Longhorns are going to bring them their 17th straight Big 12 men’s title and 34th consecutive league title dating back to the days of the old Southwest Conference.
Without a lot of external competition, Texas will have the luxury of being able to keep their eyes on the prize. Like he’s done so many times before, legendary coach Eddie Reese will look to qualify the maximum number of swimmers for NCAA’s while limiting the rest of his key swimmers. Their second-tier swimmers will need to step up; the Longhorns have only four guys safely into the big meet so far: Dax Hill, Clay Youngquist, Michael McBroom, and Austin Surhoff. All four of those guys are likely A-finalists and national title contenders in multiple events, but it will take a lot more than just these four swimming individual events for Texas to keep pace with the likes of Cal, Michigan, Florida, USC, and Stanford. Of course, there is plenty of other talent on this roster, including multiple returning NCAA scorers that should qualify again (Kip Darmody, Cole Cragin) and key relay contributors (Charlie Moore, Tripp Cooper). Let’s look at some of the key contributors for the three teams swimming this weekend on the men’s side…
Texas: Ben Anderson (sophomore freestyler), Tripp Cooper (sophomore flyer/IMer), Cole Cragin (senior backstroker/freestyler), Kip Darmody (sophomore backstroker/flyer), Aaron Gustafson (freshman flyer/backstroker), Dax Hill (senior sprint freestyler), Michael McBroom (senior distance freestyler), Charlie Moore (junior sprint freestyler), Patrick Murphy (junior backstroker), Jacob Ritter (sophomore freestyler), Austin Surhoff (senior IMer/backstroker), Clay Youngquist (sophomore freestyler/flyer)
TCU: Mitchell Adshead (sophomore breaststroker/IMer), Sebastian Arispe (junior distance freestyler), Luis Azarias (junior flyer), Ricky Bradley (sophomore diver), Corey Nix (freshman sprint freestyler), Devin Price (senior freestyler), Cooper Robinson (sophomore backstroker), Adam Szilagyi (freshman backstroker/butterflyer)… Cooper Robinson is the top seed going in for the 200 backstroke. Seeded in the low 1:43’s, a mild drop for the the senior leader for the Horned Frogs would put him in contention for a spot at NCAAs.
West Virginia: Christopher Brill (sophomore breaststroker), Nathan Cobbe (sophomore mid-distance freestyler), Daeton Davenport (sophomore distance freestyler), Ross Glegg (freshman sprint freestyler), Richard Pokorny (junior diver), Julian Vialette (sophomore sprint freestyler).
Predicted team standings:
3. West Virginia
With the departure of last year’s champion (Texas A&M) and third place finisher (Missouri), the race for first shouldn’t be much of a contest; expect Texas, led by first year coach and former Georgia assistant Carol Capitani, to cruise to an easy victory. Like the men’s team, the lady Longhorns should be viewing this meet as a stepping stone to NCAA’s. There is plenty of depth of experience returning, including Olympic Trials finalist Laura Sogar, who has been having an outstanding senior campaign.
Going into their conference meet, the Texas women have 7 swimmers safely into NCAA’s (Ellen Lobb, Sarah Denninghoff, Sam Tucker, Kaitlin Pawlowicz, Laura Sogar, Gretchen Jacques, Skylar Smith), and another who—with the removal of relay-only swimmers from the equation—should make the meet (Kelsey Amundsen).
Let’s look at this team by team…
Texas: Bethany Adams (senior freestyler/breaststroker), Kelsey Amundsen (senior freestyler/flyer), Sarah Denninghoff (junior backstroker/freestyler), Jessica Guro (senior backstroker/flyer), Samantha Holland (diver), Alex Hooper (junior backstroker/freestyler), Kelsey LeNeave (sophomore freestyler), Kaitlin Pawlowicz (sophomore IM/distance freestyler), Skyler Smith (sophomore breaststroker/IMer), Laura Sogar (senior breaststroker), Samantha Tucker (junior freestyler)
TCU: Ashley Alspaugh (sophomore backstroker/freestyler), Ali Bleasdell (sophomore flyer/IMer), Sara Brzozowski (freshman distance freestyler), Gabi Korac (junior breaststroker), Katie Lybbert (senior diver), Ali Polhill (junior backstroker/flyer), Sabine Rasch (senior sprint freestyler/flyer), Katie Scarsella (senior freestyler), Parris Schoppa (senior freestyler)… Senior sprinter Sabine Rasch (4th seed in the 50) and Gabi Korac (3rd in the 200 breast) are the top seeds for the Horned Frogs. Look for these two to lead a surprisingly deep TCU team to a 2nd place finish.
West Virginia: Eva Burlingham (junior flyer/freestyler), Rachael Burnett (senior freestyler/flyer), Jaimee Gillmore (freshman freestyler/backstroker), Breanna McCann (senior breaststroker/IMer), Mandie Nugent (senior flyer/freestyler), Julie Ogden (sophomore flyer/freestyler), Danielle Smith (junior backstroker/freestyler), Jenelle Zee (sophomore breaststroker)… Several Mountaineer women will give the Longhorns plenty of good races, including Racheal Burnett (top seed in the 500 freestyle), Breanna McCann (4th in the 200 IM), and Danielle Smith (3rd in the 100 back). They can challenge TCU for 2nd overall.
Kansas: Brooke Brull (senior freestyler/backstroker), Svetlana Golovchun (senior sprint freestyler/flyer), Bryce Hinde (freshman breaststroker/IMer), Deanna Marks (sophomore flyer/freestyler), Chelsie Miller (freshman IMer/flyer/breaststroker), Haley Molden (freshman freestyler)… Kansas has a few stud freshmen (including Chelsie Miller and Bryce Hinde) that should score some big points for the Jayhawks.
Iowa State: Elyse Brouillette (freshman diver), Dani Harris (senior backstroker/IMer), Bre Loeschke (sophomore backstroker/IMer), Amanda Paulson (sophomore sprint freestyler), Katie Vollhaber (junior sprint freestyler), Emily Wiltsie (junior breaststroker) Imelda Wistey (junior breaststroker)… Though Iowa State is towards the bottom of the conference, expect some fast swimming from the Cyclones, led by Bre Loeschke (3rd seed, 200 backstroke).
Predicted team standings:
3. West Virginia
5. Iowa State