2020 MEN’S BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIPS FAN GUIDE
- When: Wednesday, February 26th to Saturday, February 29th | Prelims 10:00 am | Finals 6:00 pm
- Where: Aquatic Center at Mylan Park, University of West Virginia, Morgantown, WV (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: University of Texas (Texas) (40x — yes, 40-consecutive) (results)
- Live Results
- Streaming: ESPN+ (Paid Web Service)
- Championship Central: Here
- Detailed Timeline: Here
- Psych Sheets: Here
The Texas Longhorns haven’t lost the Big 12 Championships in 40 years and 2020 looks to be no different. Though Texas was knocked off the top of the podium at NCAAs by California in 2019, the team is as strong as ever and will benefit from new additions such as Maxime Rooney and Jake Foster.
Though top freestylers Townley Haas and Jack Conger are no longer with the program, Drew Kibler had a breakthrough summer in 2019 and has carried that momentum into the NCAA season.
While Texas placed 2nd at NCAAs in 2019 and won the National Championship the four years prior, neither West Virginia nor Texas Christian placed at the 2019 championships. Texas’ top-end strength and depth, combined with its 40-year win streak, all but guarantees a 41st Longhorn victory at the Big 12 Championships.
Though the Longhorn monopoly on the Big 12 did not secure Texas a win in every event at the Big 12 Championships in 2019, it’s entirely possible that Texas could top the podium in every single men’s event this year. In 2019, West Virginia’s David Dixon won the 100 and 200 butterfly races. In 2020, Dixon will have to contend with either Rooney or Alvin Jiang (or both) in the fly races, neither of which was with Texas in 2019. it’s entirely possible that Texas could top the podium in every single men’s event this year.
Texas Christian University will put its large freshman class to the test against some of the best swimmers in the nation and vie with West Virginia for the second-place finish.
- 200 Medley Relay
- Men’s 1-meter diving
- 800 Freestyle Relay
- 500 Freestyle
- 200 IM
- 50 Freestyle
- Women’s 1-meter diving
- 200 Freestyle Relay
- 100 Butterfly
- 400 IM
- 200 Freestyle
- 100 Breaststroke
- 100 Backstroke
- Men’s 3-meter diving
- 200 Freestyle Relay
- 200 Backstroke
- 100 Freestyle
- 1650 Freestyle
- 200 Breaststroke
- 200 Butterfly
- Women’s Platform Diving
- 400 Freestyle Relay
Maxime Rooney (senior, free/fly), Caspar Corbeau (freshman, breaststroke), Jake Foster (freshman, IM/breast), Ryan Harty (senior, backstroke), Jacob Huerta (senior, fly), Alvin Jiang (junior, fly/back), Austin Katz (junior, back), Drew Kibler (sophomore, free), Sam Pomajevich (junior, fly/free), Chris Staka (junior, fly/back), Matthew Willenbring (sophomore, free/IM), Chris Yeager (junior, free), Alex Zettle (sophomore, freestyle).
There is really no debate as to whether Texas will win its 41st Big 12 Championship. Maxime Rooney, Austin Katz, Sam Pomajevich, and Drew Kibler are all in the conversation for individual NCAA titles. Furthermore, Texas is the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA team title this year, wresting the championship away from Cal, who prevented Texas from hitting a 5-year win streak in 2019.
West Virginia lost several key-players in 2019, though the Mountaineers remain the solid choice for the runner-up in the team standings in 2020. David Dixon is the defending champion in the 100 and 200 fly and stands a chance at making noise in the 200 IM. WVU lost its top breaststroker last year, though sophomore Fausto Huerta has the potential to make the ‘A’ final and potentially medal.
Though the Horned Frogs graduated some of their fastest swimmers in 2019, a freshman class of 10 makes for a promising cohort to take on the Big 12 over the coming three years. While Texas Christian was thoroughly out-done by its two competitors in 2019, the winds could be changing for the Horned Frogs–especially if their recruiting game remains strong.
100 and 200 Backstroke: Texas senior Ryan Harty and junior Austin Katz are not only Big 12 title contenders in the 200 backstroke, but also in the conversation for the NCAA title, with the edge going to 2018 National Champion and 2019 NCAA runner-up Katz. Harty has been slightly faster than Katz this season in the 100, with Alvin Jiang also having been 45.2 in December. Jiang is also a contender for a top finish in the 100 fly, which gives Texas options–taking on the 100 fly/100 back double might not be ideal and Jiang might be better utilized in the 50 free/100 fly/200 fly in order to space out his events.
500 Freestyle: Drew Kibler is once again a stout contender for the 500 freestyle title at Big 12s, though 200 fly specialist Sam Pomajevich posted a 4:12 in NCAA prelims in 2018. Though Pomajevich has not improved his PR in the 500 since 2018, he experienced a fantastic time drop in the 200 fly at the Minnesota Invite in December. If Pomajevich experiences a similar improvement in freestyle he could upset Kibler for the title in Morgantown. Texas sophomore Alex Zettle and junior backstroke specialist Austin Katz could also make for an interesting race and potentially take the 2020 Big 12 title in this event.
100 Butterfly: A freestyle specialist until the 2019 SEC Championships when he took up the 100 and 200 fly, Texas senior Maxime Rooney is a favorite for not only the Big 12 title in the 100 fly but also a confident pick for the NCAA title in March. Alvin Jiang, another transfer, is one of only two men in the Big 12 (alongside Rooney) to have been sub-46 in the 100 fly this season with a 44.93. West Virginia’s David Dixon won this event in 2019 though the 46.73 Dixon posted last year is unlikely to get it done this year. Dixon has had success in the 100 LCM butterfly that Jiang has not, and if he’s able to translate his 51.4 from 2018 into a 45-mid or 44-high performance in yards then he will be in serious title contention.
The Longhorns’ reign in the Big 12 is unlikely to come to an end anytime soon. While Texas is always a fun team to watch in competition, the more interesting team battle will be for 2nd and 3rd between West Virginia and Texas Christian University. Though TCU has a strong freshman class, they will have a tough battle to secure the title of Big 12 runner-up with the Mountaineers.
Based on current conference rankings, West Virginia boasts more likely individual scorers in the 50 and 100 freestyles with deep rosters in the butterfly, backstroke, and Individual Medley races. The freestyles especially indicate an edge over TCU in every relay, save the 800 freestyle. This has also been shown in current season-bests for each team.
In regards to diving, Texas is favorited to bring home the lion’s share of points on the boards, though West Virginia has more divers than TCU which will benefit them in picking up the leftover points.
- Texas – 1013
- West Virginia – 677
- TCU – 646
- West Virginia