2016 Big 12 Men’s and Women’s Championships
- Wednesday, February 24 – Saturday, February 27
- Texas Swimming Center, Austin, TX (Central Time Zone)
- Prelims 10AM / Finals 6 PM
- Defending Champion: Texas men (19x) & Texas women (4x) (results)
- Live results
- Championship Central
As Division I conferences have drastically realigned over the past few seasons, some conferences have swelled in numbers (like the ACC, SEC and Big Ten), while others have thinned out. The Big 12 is fully in the latter category, which gives it a relatively unique feel compared to the other major conference championships.
At this point, just 5 women’s programs make up the conference, with Texas the only true NCAA contender of the bunch. While this makes the battle for the team title somewhat less dramatic, it does add some intrigue to the team battles the rest of the way down, with plenty of scoring opportunities available to the other four programs.
And while Texas doesn’t necessarily have to gear up for an intense team battle, the Big 12 does provide plenty of its own kind of drama as the top Longhorns fight for NCAA bids and jockey for relay positions while the team itself gets a chance to establish where it fits in the overall NCAA pecking order.
This year, Texas is led by Madisyn Cox, one of the nation’s most versatile athletes. Cox could be an NCAA title contender in both IMs, but is also an elite 200 breaststroker and a huge relay component based on her conference-leading 200 free. Tasija Karosas is a high-level backstroker, and sprinter Rebecca Millard should be a relay pillar in her sophomore season after tearing through the high-pressure anchor positions with flying colors as a freshman.
Most intriguing for Texas will be the performance of its freshman class, hailed as one of the best in the nation. Rookie seasons are always a lottery, as some big talents take a year or two to adjust to the college atmosphere while others explode for huge improvements almost immediately in the new environment. Texas has some extremely talented and versatile freshmen, including local product Quinn Carrozza, do-everything age group sensation Nora McCullagh, butterfly speedster Remedy Rule and Bahamian distance freestyler Joanna Evans, among others. Their development should be on display at Big 12s, with their performances arguably the key to whether Texas has a chance to move up from its 7th-place finish at NCAAs last year or whether they fall back towards the end of the top 10 instead.
Kansas and Iowa State had a spirited battle for second last year, with the Cyclones overcoming the Jayhawks. Kansas comes back strong, though, with the versatile Chelsie Miller entering her senior year, and Iowa State will look to fend them off on the backs of their young talent, including sophomore Kasey Roberts, one of the conference’s better breaststrokers.
West Virginia and TCU had their own showdown for fourth in 2015, with WVU getting the nod by just 13 points. Sprinter Jaimee Gillmore leads the Mountaineers this year against Devin Newton and the Horned Frogs.
- 200 Medley Relay
- Men’s 1-meter diving
- 800 Free Relay
- 500 Free
- 200 IM
- 50 Free
- Women’s 1-meter diving
- 400 Medley Relay
- Women’s 3-meter diving
- 400 IM
- 100 Fly
- 200 Free
- 100 Breast
- 100 Back
- Men’s 3-meter diving
- 200 Free Relay
- Women’s platform diving
- 200 Back
- 200 Free
- 1650 Free
- 200 Breast
- 200 Fly
- Women’s platform diving
- 400 Free Relay
Iowa State – Karyl Clarete (junior distance freesyler), Marissa Engel (senior backstroker/IMer), Kasey Roberts (sophomore breaststroker), Mary Kate Luddy (sophomore distance freestyler/flyer/IMer) – Roberts and Luddy look strong after great rookie campaigns, and give this team a young and versatile core.
Kansas – Chelsie Miller (senior distance freestyler/flyer/IMer), Bryce Hinde (senior breaststroker), Yulduz Kuchkarova (junior backstroker), Haley Bishop (freshman freestyler/flyer) – Miller is in her farewell season after rewriting the Kansas record books, and the freshman Bishop should provide an instant upgrade in the sprints as well.
TCU – Devin Newton (sophomore breaststroker), Lindsay Shabet (sophomore breaststroker), Maddie Ibrahim (freshman backstroker/IMer) – Some good young talent here, especially in the breaststrokes. The Horned Frogs really need their relay-distance freestylers to have big tapers to challenge for relay points.
Texas – Madisyn Cox (junior IMer/breaststroker/freestyler), Rebecca Millard (sophomore sprint freestyler), Quinn Carrozza (freshman backstroker/freestyler), Joanna Evans (freshman distance freestyler), Remedy Rule (freshman butterflyer) – Winning the meet isn’t a concern for Texas as much as seeing how well their freshmen come around. Great postseason starts for Carrozza, Rule, Evans and several other impact rookies could put Texas in the conversation to challenge for a top-5 spot at nationals.
West Virginia – Jaimee Gillmore (senior sprint freestyler), Emma Skelley (junior distance freestyler), Courtney Miller (senior backstroker) – The Mountaineers lost a few of their top scorers from last year, but Gillmore is a rock-solid sprint leg to build relays around and should join Skelley to funnel points WVU’s way in every freestyle distance.
50 Free: Most of these “showdowns” will be Longhorn clashes between Texas teammates but this could be one of the more interesting intrasquad matchups. Defending champ Gretchen Jaques is graduated, leaving a crowded horse race behind her. Sophomore Rebecca Millard made herself the front-runner with a lifetime-best 22.26 midseason, but going back to last season, Millard was touched out for second at Big 12s by now-junior Brynne Wong. Mimi Schneider actually had a faster season-best for 2014-2015 than either Millard or Wong, but wasn’t able to swim her fastest at Big 12s. She’s three tenths back of Millard as of now and could challenge for the win with a good conference meet. Brooke Hansen and Sam Sutton have both been sub-23 this year for Texas, and the 50 could also feature some non-Longhorn threats in Kansas freshman Haley Bishop (who cut almost a half-second off her career-best midway through her rookie year) and West Virginia’s Jaimee Gillmore (22.86 last year).
100 Breast: Again, defending champ Jaques is graduated, leaving a bunch of swimmers right around the minute barrier (assuming sub-minute Madisyn Cox doesn’t contest this event). Junior Jordan Surhoff was mere hundredths off her first sub-minute swim in December, and highly-rated freshman Olivia Anderson is just two tenths behind in the season rankings. Sophomore Bethany Leap has the talent but maybe not the speed, as she’s better over 200 yards. Iowa State’s Kasey Roberts had an outstanding freshman season, and could break into the 1:00-range this year, plus Kansas enters two of its top swimmers in Bryce Hinde and Lydia Pocisk, both A finalists last year.
100 Fly: Wong is the defending champ here after going 53.13 last year. But the sophomore Schneider has already topped that with a mid-season 53.02 this season. Freshman Remedy Rule is the only one of the bunch who has been under 53 in her career, but did that 52.94 back in high school. She was 54.0 earlier this year. Kansas Jayhawk Pia Pavlic has been right around her career-best already this season and her freshman teammate Haley Bishop should also fight for an A final spot.
Texas is obviously the class of the field, and shouldn’t have to do too much to win their 5th-straight title. With all three free relays but neither medley qualified for NCAAs at this point, one subplot to watch is if any of the Longhorns delay a full rest for the national meet
The twin battles for position behind them are intriguing, in that they both nearly came down to costly relay DQs in 2015. Iowa State beat Kansas by 29.5, but Kansas false started on a 200 medley relay that would have been worth 34 points. Meanwhile West Virginia DQ’d a 400 medley relay worth 34 themselves, but still managed to eke out fourth over TCU by 12.
Iowa State graduated key scorer Amanda Paulson, while Kansas returns their top swimmers in Chelsie Miller and Yulduz Kuchkarova, so we’ll take the Jayhawks to soar back up to second. Behind them, West Virginia gets the nod on the sprinting ability of Jaimee Gillmore, who returns while TCU’s comparable sprinter Julia Sanders is no longer competing.
- Iowa State
- West Virginia
- Texas Christian