2015 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
200 MEDLEY RELAY
- NCAA Record: 1:22.27 — Michigan (M. Ortiz, B. Ortiz, Fletcher, Turk) — 3/29/13
- U.S. Open Record: 1:22.27 — Michigan (M. Ortiz, B. Ortiz, Fletcher, Turk) — 3/29/13
- American Record: 1:22.83 — Cal (Murphy, Katis, Cox, Messerschmidt) — 3/27/14
- 2014 NCAA Champions: Cal (Murphy, Katis, Cox, Messerschmidt) — 1:22.83 — 3/27/14
Cal’s well-rounded medley relay last year took down the American Record en route to an NCAA title, with no real “weak” leg of the four. While the Golden Bears did lose Tony Cox to graduation, who happened to split a 19.99 on the fly leg in finals last year, freshman Justin Lynch is a fantastic butterflier that should be swimming the fly leg of this relay. While Lynch hasn’t been stunning this season, he was 20.32 on the fly leg at Pac 12s. What’s more is the Ryan Murphy factor; the star sophomore seems to have much more in the tank come next week. Chuck Katis and Tyler Messerschmidt will each need to be stellar though, because even if underclassmen Lynch and Murphy are on, the Golden Bears have been slower than four other teams so far this season.
Despite Michigan’s slow descent from their 2013 team title, they have managed to put up the fastest time in the country this season by almost half a second. Two freshman, Aaron Whitaker and Paul Powers, were impressive bookends for the Wolverines at Big Tens (more so for Powers, who anchored in 19.00), while Bruno Ortiz sprinted to a 22.77 breaststroke split. Jeremy Raisky, a junior, turned in a 20.15 on the fly leg and Michigan won the Big Ten title by over a second and a half. There’s no telling how newcomers Whitaker and Powers will do at their first NCAAs, but Ortiz has proven time and time again that he’s capable of showing up when it matters.
Michigan is one of many traditional power programs that have posted top times this season. Texas follows up right behind Michigan, having been 1:23.88 this season. As we all know, butterfliers grow on trees in Austin, but Joseph Schooling made a mark at Big 12s after exploding for a 19.66 split on the Texas A relay. It’s going to be very hard for anyone to come very close to Schooling on that split. Kip Darmody should be back on the backstroke leg after his sub-21 lead off last year, and the freestyle leg will go to whoever is the hottest come NCAAs– possibly Matt Ellis or freshman Brett Ringgold. Sprint freestyler John Murray was a 23.45 last year at NCAAs on the breast leg. Like Cal last year, there really is no glaring “weak” leg for the Longhorns, and coupled with Schooling’s ability to put down 19 mids butterfly, Texas is the favorite to win this event (if only slightly).
Other traditional power programs include #4 Tennessee, #6 USC, and #8 Georgia. Tennessee has three solid upperclassmen legs plus freshman Peter Stevens, who dropped a 22.72 breaststroke split at SECs and helped them to win the conference title in this event. Stevens, who swam a faster on his breaststroke leg than his freestyle leg in his 200 IM at SECs, lives and breathes for the 50 breast. He will be the key to the Volunteers’ success at NCAAs. Georgia finished 3rd at SECs, with impressive splits from Taylor Dale and Nic Fink on the back and breast legs, respectively. They’ll need more from Ty Stewart on the fly leg, though, as a 21.05 likely won’t cut it. The Trojans have found their anchor leg in Santo Condorelli, who dipped below 19 on their 2nd place Pac 12 relay, and have breaststroke options between Sergio Lujan-Rivera (23.96 on the USC B relay) and Morten Klarskov (24.08 on the A relay). Meanwhile, Luca Spinazzola and Ralf Tribuntsov both were 21 low in the 50 back at Pac 12s, and Dylan Carter put down the fastest fly split (20.21) in the entire field.
That leaves us with two non-traditional power programs in the top 8 so far this year: #3 NC State (1:24.07) and #7 Alabama (1:24.43). NC State, known best for their sprint freestylers, put together a fantastic relay at ACCs, with a 21.30 lead off from Andreas Schiellerup, a 23.72 from Derek Hren, and a 20.50 from Soeren Dahl. Rounding things out was David Williams with a 18.55, really hammering it down for the Wolfpack. Alabama went their 1:24.43 to finish 2nd at SECs and have put up the 7th best time in the country– all without defending 50 free NCAA Champion Kristian Gkolomeev. Freshman Luke Kaliszak is an appropriate replacement for Brett Walsh on the fly leg, as Walsh moved to the free leg. It’s unsure whether they will go with Anton McKee on the breast leg as he was subbed out for Pavel Romano at SECs, but Connor Oslin is back on the backstroke leg this season and almost went under 21 at SECs. Both of these teams have been making tons of noise this season, but time will tell if they can live up to the hype.
Just outside of the top 8 are perennial forces Auburn and Florida. Both teams placed top 8 last year and don’t have to make huge overhauls due to graduations. Auburn decided to keep Kyle Darmody off of this relay in order to use him on the other 4, but if they decide to sub him in, the Tigers would start to look very strong to move into the A final. Florida’s relay features Caeleb Dressel, and while they don’t have the speed on the front half of their relay, this is a team that always shows up big for NCAAs, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-20 fly split from the young sprint star Dressel.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
Dark Horses: Missouri (14th seed, 1:25.09). The Tigers will be sure to get a big breaststroke split from Sam Tierney, while Matthew Margritier is an emerging sprinter who nearly dropped a sub-19 split at SECs. Missouri won the B final last year and will look to move up into the A final this year.