The race for the 2014 NCAA team title has come down to the final night of racing. 7 events remain, and the team trophy is still up in the air – Texas leads after last night, but the Cal Bears are only 6 points back and made a big run this morning. In addition, Florida got hot on the final morning and look to steal the title from third place.
Our midday scoring projections have this thing coming down to the final relay, with Texas seeded for a narrow 4-point win based on prelims swims. Buckle up, swim fans. This is the kind of national championship showdown we all dream of.
Tonight kicks off with the final heat of the 1650, where Michigan’s Connor Jaeger looks to defend his NCAA title and salvage what’s been a disappointing weekend for the Wolverines. In the 200 back, Cal’s freshman sensation Ryan Murphy aims to take home his second individual NCAA title with Indiana’s Eric Ress hot on his heels.
Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini lead the 100 free, but Texas will be looking for a big win to spur on their title hopes from second-seeded John Murray. 200 free champ Joao de Lucca is also in the hunt after prelims.
Kevin Cordes leads the 200 breast for Arizona after smashing his own American record in the 100 last night. He’ll take aim at his national 200 mark tonight before Michigan’s Dylan Bosch looks to hold his top seed in the 200 fly and deny Florida’s Marcin Cieslak a third individual win.
Also tonight is the platform diving event, appearing to be a big team boost for Texas, and the night closes with an intense 400 free relay where Chierighini and Auburn lead, but Cal, Texas and Florida sit 2-3-4.
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Knocked off from defending his 500 free title on Thursday night, Michigan’s Connor Jaeger was not going to be denied the same way in the mile. The senior rocked the 1650, hitting the accelerator more and more as the race went on to finish in 14:29.27. That’s a few seconds off what Jaeger went in winning last year, but it was just enough to sneak under the old pool record of 14:29.55 held by Erik Vendt.
Cal’s Jeremy Bagshaw took advantage of his opportunity to help take his squad to a possible national title in the finals session. In the early heats of this timed final 1650 free, Bagshaw absolutely motored his way through the 4th heat with a 14:39.00. That not only crushed the Cal School Record, belonging to Adam Hinshaw from 2012 by 10 seconds, but it netted Bagshaw a 2nd-place finish overall.
That success is compounded by the fact that he’s the only swimmer between Cal and Texas’ milers, all of whom swam in the early heats, who scored. Texas’ top finisher was Sam Lewis with a 14:58.44, a three-second add and a 21st-place finish.
For those keeping track of points, that’s an 18-point swing (Bagshaw gaining 16 points for Cal and Texas losing 2 seeded points on Lewis) in a meet projected to come down to just 4.
Arthur Frayler took third for Florida, second behind Jaeger in that final heat. His 14:43.08 came in just ahead of Northwestern sophomore Jordan Wilimovsky, who put up the Wildcats first points of the championships with a 14:44.36.
Zane Grothe, who also swam in the afternoon heats, was 5th overall. The Auburn senior’s 14:45.55 took second to Bagshaw in 4th heat.
Georgia’s Andrew Gemmell ran second in the final heat most of the way, but slid to 6th overall by the finish. He was 14:46.17. Florida’s Mitch D’Arrigo went 14:47.36 for 7th before Gemmell’s Bulldog teammate Matias Koski finished 8th in 14:47.74.
Penn’s Chris Swanson (14:49.63) took 9th out of the early heats, with Michigan’s Sean Ryan (14:50.61), another early heat swimmer, taking the next spot.
With the first of 7 finals events out of the way, Cal has now taken an 11-point lead over Texas, with Florida now only 11.5 back of the Longhorns thanks to two big point-scorers.
All-star freshman Ryan Murphy kept the foot on the gas pedal for Cal. The rising backstroke sensation shattered the NCAA record to win the 200 back, going 1:37.35. That broke the record set by Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary back in 2009, the second super-suited Clary record to fall in the past two days.
Indiana’s Eric Ress followed with a strong 1:38.69 of his own. That garners runner-up honors for the Hoosier, a solid half-second ahead of Stanford’s David Nolan. The Cardinal junior dropped a half-second from prelims to grab his second top-3 finish of the week.
Cal had a big event, with sophomore Jacob Pebley moving up from the 8th seed to take 4th, going 1:39.59. Meanwhile Texas faded to the back of the heat, with junior Kip Darmody dropping one spot to 6th in 1:40.18 and freshman Jack Conger adding about a half-second to fall to 8th at 1:40.73. Will Glass also slipped a bit in the B final, taking 15th.
West Virginia’s Bryce Bohman was the last man under 1:40, going 1:39.83 for his second 5th place finish of the championships. The other A finalist was Tennessee’s Sean Lehane, who took 7th between the two Longhorns at 1:40.35.
Virginia Tech junior Collin Higgins almost got under 1:40 in winning the B heat, which underscores how ridiculously fast this field was. Higgins, the 15th seed, went 1:40.10 to wind up 9th, with Georgia’s Tynan Stewart 10th.
Even though everything has seemed to go Cal’s way the past two events, the Golden Bears still only lead by 15, so the meet is far from over with 5 events to go.
Perhaps a bit of a forgotten man in this race even after his 200 free win last night, Louisville’s Joao de Lucca came home with the 100 freestyle championship, going 41.70 to knock off top seed Marcelo Chierighini of Auburn. De Lucca was typically aggressive, the only swimmer in the field out in 19 seconds. He becomes the first swimmer since fellow Brazilian Gustavo Borges in 1994-1995 to win both the 100 and 200 frees.
Chierighini went 41.97 for second place, with 500 free champ Cristian Quintero third in 42.14. Just like in the 50, most of these guys went slower at finals than they did at prelims – perhaps a result of having to fight each others’ powerful wakes the entire night swim.
Penn State sophomore Shane Ryan continued his great meet, going 42.32 to move up to 4th place. Texas’s John Murray fell to 5th after coming in with the second seed – he went 42.43.
Freshman Kyle Darmody, Chierighini’s heir apparent as Auburn’s next top sprinter, took 6th in 42.51, touching out Cal’s Seth Stubblefield by .08. Florida’s Brad deBorde closed out the heat in 42.82 for 8th place.
In yet another clutch performance for Cal, Tyler Messerschmidt rose from the 13th seed to win the B final, going 42.28. That would have been 4th in the championship heat. Alabama’s BJ Hornikel was 10th with a 42.39. Tied for 9th going in, Texas sophomore Matt Ellis faded to 15th overall. Between Cal’s risers and Texas’s dropoffs, the lead now stands at 20 points for Cal. Florida is 66.5 back of Cal, 46.5 behind Texas and starting to fall out of title consideration.
Last year, Kevin Cordes barely snuck under the NCAA 100 breast record before smashing the 200. This year, that reversed, with Cordes blowing away the 100 record Friday night and slipping under his own 200 mark by the slimmest of margins. The Arizona junior went 1:48.66, just .02 under his American, U.S. Open, NCAA and meet record of 1:48.68 from last year.
Cordes went out a little faster in this one and actually closed a bit slower than he did in 2013, still splitting a big 28.1 over the final 50 yards en route to his big win.
Indiana senior Cody Miller held his second seed, going 1:51.82, a drop of .03 from prelims. He needed every bit of speed he could find to pull it off, though, as Georgia’s Nic Fink finished just a tenth back and was closing hard over the final 50. Fink went 1:51.92, the only swimmer other than Cordes to come home in under 29 seconds.
Alabama freshman Anton McKee was 1:52.31 for fourth, with Cal’s Chuck Katis moving up a spot to take 5th at 1:52.64. His teammate Josh Prenot also moved up one slot, following him in at 1:52.97.
Michigan’s Richard Funk (1:53.81) and Missouri’s Sam Tierney (1:53.83) closed out the championship heat.
Florida has had some outstanding B final performances at this meet, and the 200 breast will go down as another one. Matt Elliott took the heat from lane 1 in 1:53.30 for the Gators, and fellow junior Eduardo Solaeche touched out Purdue’s Lyam Dias by .03 to sweep the top two spots for Florida.
With three events to go, it’s looking more and more like a Cal win. The Golden Bears lead Texas 412.5 to 370.5 after Texas lost some more points with Will Licon falling from 9th to 12th. Florida is now 35.5 back of Texas in third place.
Yet another NCAA record fell in this one, with Michigan sophomore Dylan Bosch racing out to a big lead and dominating the 200 fly in 1:39.33. The South African was very aggressive in the championship final, going out in 47.2 and leading by a full second at the 100 mark.
That breaks the NCAA, meet and U.S. Open records in the event, all three set by Tom Shields last year. That U.S. Open record was actually a tie between Shields and Michael Phelps, but Bosch has topped both with two college seasons still remaining.
Florida’s Marcin Cieslak went 1:40.19 to take second, adding silver to his pair of gold performances the past two days. He’s got to be a front-runner for the Swimmer of the Meet award.
Marcin Tarczynski of Cal took third, going 1:42.11 to touch out NC State’s Christian McCurdy (1:42.18). Michigan got a 5th-place finish from Kyle Whitaker in 1:42.56 to go along with Bosch’s win, and Arizona’s Michael Meyerr took 6th in 1:43.05.
Indiana’s Steve Schmuhl and Sebastien Rousseau of Florida took 7th and 8th, respectively.
Florida State’s Connor Knight took out the B final with guts, splitting 48.2 over the first 100 and winning the heat in 1:42.25.
Cal has now extended its lead to over 70 points, while Florida is just 7.5 out of second, though Texas will get a solid diving boost in the next event.
Duke’s Nick McCrory had to go down to his last dive to defend his platform title, but the senior pulled it off in dramatic fashion, scoring a perfect 10 from one judge on his final dive. McCrory won the event with 454.85 points, just over two up on Arizona’s Rafael Quintero (452.40).
Hawaii’s Amund Gismervik took third at 446.10 with David Bonuchi of Missouri making that a close battle as well. Bonuchi scored 443.35, and Virginia Tech’s Ryan Hawkins was fifth in 440.85.
Stanford junior Kristian Ipsen was 6th (384.80) and Texas freshman Michael Hixon took 7th after winning both springboard events the past two days. Hixon’s 7th place, 366.35-point performance means Cal has officially clinched the team NCAA title, no matter the results of the final relay by virtue of their 47-point lead.
Virginia Tech’s TJ Shinholser took 8th in the championship final with a score of 316.10. Earlier in the day, Auburn’s John Santeiu won the B final, scoring 437.70 to run away with things.
400 Freestyle Relay
Auburn came from behind to win the 400 free relay, shattering the pool record and winning their first title in the event since setting the NCAA record in 2009. Marcelo Chierighini led off in 42.06 to put the Tigers in the lead, and freshman Kyle Darmody took the lead back with a 41.4 anchor split, the fastest split in the field. Joining them on the national championship relay were James Disney-May (42.0) and Arthur Mendes (42.7). The whole crew went 2:48.33.
Cal took second in closing out their team title. Tyler Messerschmidt led off in 42.64, and it was freshman Ryan Murphy who put up the biggest split at 41.6 swimming second. Fabio Gimondi was 43.2 and Seth Stubblefield anchored in 41.9.
NC State front-loaded their relay and actually led at the 300-mark. Simonas Bilis was 42.1 on the leadoff, and David Williams split 42.3 swimming second. Jonathan Boffa put up a huge 41.6 to put the Wolfpack in the lead, but freshman Andreas Schiellerup couldn’t hold off the charging Darmody and Stubblefield. Still, NC State got its highest relay finish of the weekend at third place in 2:49.50.
Fourth was Texas, getting a 42.1 from sophomore John Murray, who will be remembered as one of the huge spark plugs of this unexpected Longhorn run to the top. Kip Darmody was 42.7 anchoring for 2:50.94 Texas.
Alabama took fifth in 2:51.65 on BJ Hornikel’s 42.1 anchor leg. Hornikel ran down USC for the spot, outsplitting Dimitri Colupaev‘s 42.7. The Trojans touched in 2:51.88.
Florida and Tennessee rounded out the A final, with Brad deBorde leading off in 42.8 for Florida and the Vols getting a 43.0 as their fastest split from anchor Sam Rairden.
Ohio State won the B final, getting a 42.1 from anchor Tim Phillips to go 2:51.26. Louisville was second with Joao de Lucca leading off in 42.17.
Final Team Scores
It became clear early in the night that Cal showed up to swim. They rolled through the final day for a hard-fought NCAA title with 468.5 points. Texas settled for second, probably disappointing given their lead over the first two days, but it was still an outstanding run for Texas, which outperformed expectations more than any other team this season, and should be getting even better next year with the additions of some top-level freshman talent.
The Longhorns ended with 417.5 points, a good 30 up on Florida. The Gators took third after coming in with the most seeded points.
Defending champs Michigan were a solid fourth at 310. Georgia put together a very solid meet with good depth behind star Chase Kalisz, and the Bulldogs took fifth, beating out Auburn by 29. Arizona wound up seventh despite a pair of very-costly relay DQs. USC, Stanford and Indiana finished out the top 10, with Louisville and Alabama just on the outside looking in.
Here’s the full team standings for the 2014 NCAA Championships:
1. California 468.5
2. Texas 417.5
3. Florida 387
4. Michigan 310
5. Georgia 259
6. Auburn 230
7. Arizona 198.5
8. Southern Cal. 182
9. Stanford 155
10. Indiana 141
11. Louisville 129
12. Alabama 121.5
13. North Carolina State 113.5
14. Florida State 105
15. Tennessee 98
16. Missouri 95
17. Penn State 63
18. Ohio State 54
19. Unlv 50
20. Virginia Tech 46
21. Duke 36
22. Minnesota 29
23. West Virginia 28
23. Arizona State 28
25. University of Miami (Florida) 26
26. Virginia 23
27. Purdue 21
28. Hawaii 16
29. Northwestern 15
30. Notre Dame 14
31. U.S. Naval Academy 12
32. Western Kentucky 11
33. Wisconsin 10
33. South Carolina 10
35. University of Pennsylvania 9
35. University of Utah 9
37. Kentucky 8
38. UNC 7
38. Lsu 7
40. Columbia 5
40. Denver 5
42. Dartmouth 4
42. Harvard 4
44. Wyoming 3
44. Texas A&M 3
46. Cal Poly 2
47. Georgia Tech 1.5
48. Csu Bakersfield 1