Louisville iced their victories in the first-ever American Athletic Conference Championship with some big swims and impressive times on Saturday night. None will stand out more than Joao de Lucca‘s 41.90 win in the 100 free, although Kelsi Worrell put up her own impressive time in winning the women’s 100 free. In addition, Tanja Kylliainen won her third title of the week and the Louisville men went 1-2-3 in the last four events of the weekend to underscore their dominance.
SMU went 1-2 in the women’s 200 breast to seal the runner-up position, and Rutgers’ Joanna Wu completed a sweep of the backstroke events, while Houston won its third diving contest.
Women’s 1650 Free
The Louisville women swept the top three spots in the conference’s longest race, led by senior Carly Munchel. Munchel was 16:35.63 to win the event for the Cards, followed by her heir apparent, freshman Abbie Houck in 16:44.64. Junior Abby Chin went 16:46.79 for third.
UConn’s Shelley Faykes, another freshman, went 16:49.04 for fourth place, beating out Hope Andrews of Cincinnati by about two seconds.
Andrews was followed by her Bearcat teammate Milli Puth, the last swimmer under 17 minutes.
Men’s 1650 Free
Louisville sophomore Bryan Draganosky went 15:13.57 to break the pool record and win his first conference title. That was about 12 seconds faster than second-place Michael Lennon of UConn.
Louisville also took third with Jake Schultz, a freshman, who went 15:31.89 before a trio of Cincinnati Bearcats – Joey Ferreri, Joe Bott and Donovan Kearns.
Men’s Platform Diving
SMU’s Devin Burnett completed his sweep of the diving events by winning platform with a score of 399.65. That was 77 more than Mustang teammate Hayden Hodges, who took second.
SMU actually put four divers into the top 8 – Parker Meinecke was fourth and Bryce Klein seventh. Louisville (Sean Piner 3rd and Sam Blair 5th) and UConn (John Brice 6th and Tony Cortwright 8th) grabbed the remaining finals spots.
Women’s 200 Back
Speaking of sweeps, Rutgers Scarlet Knight Joanna Wu completed her sweep of the backstrokes by winning the 200 back in 1:54.07. That took exactly one second off her pool record from prelims, and topped SMU’s Isabella Arcila, the closest challenger, by 1.2 seconds.
Louisville went 3-4 with Erica Belcher and Kristina Steins, and also added a 6th place from Kenzie Buss. Cincinnati’s Jessica Piper was fifth.
Men’s 200 Back
Louisville had a pair of 1-2-3-4 sweeps last night, and they added another in the 200 back tonight. Grigory Tarasevich went 1:41.50, a new pool record, to jump from the 3-seed to the conference title. Fellow freshman Aaron Greene was second in 1:43.44, and top seed Nolan Tesone went 1:43.57 for third. Juan Lopez rounded out the Louisville sweep with a 1:45.33.
SMU’s Matas Andriekus went 1:45.81 for fourth over a pair of UConn Huskies, Franz Sawyer and Jeff Magin.
Women’s 100 Free
Kelsi Worrell went 48.47 to both break her own pool record and deny Cincinnati’s Jackie Keire her third conference title in the 100 free. Worrell was out in a screaming 23.2 to just beat her own post-season time from last year. Her NCAA entries could still change to the 200 fly, but this was a very solid swim with likely more time left to drop come NCAAs.
Keire took second in 48.92, capping off a highly-successful freshman run for her. She won the 200 and 500 frees earlier in the week and has been a force all meet long for the Bearcats.
UConn’s Chinyere Pigot, the 50 free conference champ, went 49.43 to tie for third with SMU’s Nina Rangelova. Those were the last two women under 50 seconds in the heat, although SMU’s Nathalie Lindborg went 49.55 to win the B final.
Men’s 100 Free
Easily the biggest fireworks of the night came in the 100 free, where Louisville superstar Joao de Lucca put up an incredible 41.95 to roar to the win. For reference, that’s just .05 off what Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini went to win the SEC title (although Chierighini was also 41.4 leading off the 400 free relay later on). De Lucca goes out so hard in every race he swims – he was 20.16 tonight, and you can expect him to be 19 going out come NCAAs, like Chierighini was.
A nice development for Louisville was that Carlyle Blondell went 42.72 for second place. Those two were well checked out from the field, and should make a daunting free relay combo at the national championships.
Louisville freshman Matthias Lindenbauer took third going 43.91. That Louisville trio was followed by a threesome from SMU – Ryan Koops (44.11), Ziga Cerkovnik (44.13) and Ramom Melo (44.29). One more Cardinal, freshman Trevor Carroll, went 44.40 for seventh place.
Women’s 200 Breast
SMU pulled off a big 1-2 punch in the 200 breast, with freshman Tara-Lynn Nicholas leading the way in 2:10.10, a new pool record, breaking the previous mark set by now-NCAA record-holder Emma Reaney of Notre Dame.
Mustang junior Rachel Nicol was second in 2:10.33, nearly running down her young teammate on the home-stretch.
Lousville took the next two spots with freshman Andee Cottrell and SwimSwam’s own Gisselle Kohoyda.
Men’s 200 Breast
Kameron Chastain held the top seed from prelims, just as he did in the 100 breast Friday, but this time he was able to take home the conference title, cutting two more seconds to go 1:54.68 and nip teammate Thomas Dahlia. Dahlia, who snuck up to win the 100, tried to pull the same trick tonight, but couldn’t get by Chastain down the stretch – he went 1:54.74.
The third Louisville breaststroker, Addison Bray, took third in 1:55.73, making it a 1-2-3 sweep for the Cards.
SMU’s Nicolai Hansen touched out Lachez Shumkov of UConn for the fourth spot 1:58.58 to 1:58.77.
Women’s 200 Fly
Tanja Kylliainen finished off her AAC debut undefeated – she won the 200 fly for her third title of the weekend, and it wasn’t close. Her 1:53.94 topped her previous season-best, and stands as the fourth-fastest time in the NCAA this season. She was never really pushed in this one, leaving fans to wonder just how much she’s got left to drop at NCAAs.
Her teammate Devon Bibault was second in 1:57.34, easily ahead of the remainder of the field. Rutgers took 3rd and 4th with Brittany Guinee and Morgan Pfaff, the last two swimmers under 2:00 in the field.
Men’s 200 Fly
For the fourth event in a row, the Louisville men went 1-2-3. This time it was freshman Josh Quallen leading the domination with a 1:45.29 that just missed a pool record by six one-hundredths. Juan Lopez, coming off that 200 backstroke just a few events earlier, went 1:47.29 for second, and freshman David Boland was third for Louisville.
SMU’s Tyler Rauth got within two tenths of Boland, but couldn’t quite pass him up at the end, setting into fourth. UConn freshman Christopher Girg took fifth, one spot ahead of teammate Ryan Walsh.
Women’s Platform Diving
Houston picked up its third diving win of the week with freshman Taylor Olanski‘s 281.70-point diving performance. Olanski topped Rutgers’ Nicole Scott by 13 points with a trio of Louisville divers (Andrea Acquista, Alessandra Murphy and Emily Stalmack) just behind.
Houston also won the B final with Natasha Burgess, who won on 1- and 3-meter the previous nights.
Women’s 400 Free Relay
Louisville was all-around great in the final relay, from the opening split to the final one. Kelsi Worrell led off in 48.29, dropping three more tenths off her winning time from the open 100 and blowing away the field early. Tanja Kylliainen was 49.7 before Krissie Brandenburg and Breann McDowell each put up 49.0s to push Louisville to a pool-record 3:19.68 win.
SMU also got under the old pool record, actually outsplitting Louisville over the final two legs. Monika Babok was 48.9 and Nina Rangelova 48.7 for the Mustangs, who went 3:17.20 as a team.
Men’s 400 Free Relay
Joao de Lucca led off in 42.0 for Louisville, a tenth off his best, but still a very solid swim for his second race of the night. Carlyle Blondell was the star split of the field, though, going 41.9 on the second leg. Those kind of splits can swim with anyone in the nation, and it’s why Louisville is such an exciting team this post-season. Matthias Lindenbauer went 43.1 and Thomas Dahlia 43.3 to help Louisville go 2:50.41 – that’s a tenth faster than Florida went tonight at SECs while trying to run down Auburn.
SMU was a distant second, going 2:55.75 off a leadoff 43.6 from Ziga Cerkovnik. The Mustangs also got 43.9s from Nicolai Hansen and Ryan Koops.
UConn wound up third and Cincinnati fourth in the final event of the night.
At the end of the day, Louisville emerged the big winner on both sides. The men won by 304.5 and the women by 352.5, blowing away the field for the first-ever American Athletic Conference titles. The conference will change shape drastically again next season, though, as Louisville departs for the ACC, leaving a radically different AAC landscape behind.
1. Louisville, University of 977
2. Southern Methodist University 624.5
3. Rutgers University 572
4. Connecticut, University of 459.5
5. Cincinnati, University of 431
6. Houston, University of 337
1. Louisville, University of 1072.5
2. Southern Methodist University 768
3. Connecticut, University of 683.5
4. Cincinnati, University of 535