2022 M. NCAA Picks: Lasco, Armstrong, Burns Headline Tight 100 Back Field

by Michael Hamann 12

March 21st, 2022 ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, College, Pac-12, SEC

2022 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The men’s 100 back returns a strong cast of characters this season, even with last year’s champion Shaine Casas of Texas A&M surprisingly turning pro in the fall. 

Leading the psych sheets is Indiana junior Brendan Burns, the Big 10 champion who set a lifetime best of 44.31 at those championships. At last year’s NCAAs, Burns finished 6th in the 100 back with a 45.03, after qualifying 5th out of the prelims with a 44.87. At the Big 10 Championships, Burns opted for the 200 fly/back double on the final day of the meet. At NCAAs, however, Burns has opted to double the 100 fly/back, now giving him an individual event before his top seeded 100 back. His Hoosier teammate Gabriel Fantoni also enters with a shot at the A final, entering the meet as the 8th seed with a 45.05. 

Sitting just behind him on the psychs is his Big 10 rival, Hunter Armstrong, of Ohio State. After earning a surprise spot on the United States Olympic Team last summer, the Buckeye junior has carried that momentum into the short course season, holding a season and lifetime best of  44.36, nearly 6 tenths faster than he was last year heading into NCAAs, where he finished 13th. 

Rounding out the top three seeds is NC State junior Kacper Stokowski, who is in his second season in Raleigh after transferring from Florida and holds a season best of 44.39. The Poland native came in as the second seed last year in 44.82, and ended up dropping nearly half a second from his seed to finish second in 44.37. 

Despite the closely bunched top three seeds, the swimmer with the fastest lifetime best sits down in 14th on the psych sheet: Harvard’s Dean Farris. After arriving on campus in Cambridge in the fall of 2016, Farris is finally suiting up for his final meet for the Crimson. Last we saw Farris at an NCAA Championship, in 2019 before a pair of Olympic Redshirt seasons, he was a seemingly unstoppable force. At that meet, Farris set his lifetime best of 43.66 en route to winning his first NCAA title, just missing Ryan Murphy’s NCAA and American Record. Since that meet, however, Farris hasn’t posted a SCY best time in his top events: the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 100 back. 

Coming in with the fourth seed is Florida sophomore Adam Chaney, the SEC champion. After being a highly touted sprint freestyle recruit from the Mason Manta Rays in Cincinatti’s northern suburbs, Chaney has burst onto the NCAA scene as an elite level backstroker. His 44.51 in Knoxville last month was a season best by nearly a second and a half and eclipsed his lifetime best of 44.74 from last year’s NCAAs. 

A slew of Cal Bears also seem poised to make a run at the A final, including sophomore Destin Lasco, last year’s 3rd place finisher the 100 and runner-up in the 200 back. Lasco comes in as the 9th seed with a 45.11, a tenth faster than his seed last year. Lasco isn’t even the highest seeded Golden Bear, however. That distinction belongs to his sophomore classmate Bjoern Seeliger, who is seeded 5th in 44.72. Their fifth year teammate Daniel Carr also may challenge for an A final berth, as he comes in as the 12th seed after finishing 11th a season ago. 

Cal’s Bay Area rival Stanford also boasts one of the top backstrokers in the NCAA, with junior Leon MacAlister holding the 6th seed in 44.75 from leading off Stanford’s 400 medley relay at the Pac 12 Championships. At those championships, MacAlister finished just behind Seeliger and Lasco in 3rd in the 100 back. 

Cal’s other main rival, the Texas Longhorns, enter the meet with two swimmers seeded inside the top 10. Cameron Auchinachie, a fifth year senior who transferred to Texas from the University of Denver, comes in as the 7th seed in 45.01, while his 5th year classmate Alvin Jiang, who also arrived in Austin via the transfer portal from North Carolina, holds the 10th seed in 45.11. Jiang was fourth in this event last season with a 44.60, though enters the meet with a slightly slower seed and three spots lower- an indication of a stronger event than a season ago. 

Two A finalists from last season enter the meet way down the psych sheet. Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero, is seeded 37th with a 46.15 from Louisville’s dual meet with Cincinnati in January. At the ACC Championships, Albiero opted for the 200 fly and 200 back in the expanded four and a half day conference meet format, though he will now opt to double the 100 fly and 100 back at NCAAs. At last year’s meet, Albiero finished 5th in 44.86. Also seeded to swim before the circle seeded heats is Cal 5th year Bryce Mefford, who enters with the 28th seed in 45.85. Mefford, who finished 8th last season in this event and was a finalist at Olympic Trials in the 200 back, made a return to the Bears in January. If he can be near his 45.0 form from last year, it can be a game changer for Cal. 

Alabama junior Matthew Menke returns as a scorer for the Crimson Tide. Last season, Menke came in as the 10th seed with a 45.18 but wound up finishing 13th with a 45.39. This year, Menke comes in seeded 19th with a 45.56. Last year’s 16th place finisher Indiana fifth year Jacob Steele, also returns from the B final. He comes in as the 16th seed in 45.52. 

Top 8 Picks 

Place Name Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Destin Lasco (CAL) 45.11 44.49
2 Hunter Armstrong (OSU) 44.36 44.36
3 Kacper Stokowski (NCST) 44.39 44.37
4 Brendan Burns (IU) 44.31 44.31
5 Dean Farris (HARV) 45.39 43.66
6 Adam Chaney (FLOR) 44.51 44.51
7 Nicolas Albiero (LOU) 46.15 44.75
8 Bjoern Seeliger (CAL) 44.72 44.72

Dark horse: Samuel Tornqvist (VT). Seeded just outside of scoring range in 17th, Virginia Tech’s Samuel Tornqvist has had a strong season for the Hokies. His 45.54 is a full 8 tenths faster than he’s been in any of his previous four seasons at Tech, and coming in as the 4th seed in the 200 back means he has plenty of endurance for the back half of the race. 

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SoCal Swammer
8 months ago

Seeliger is a HUGE sleeper pick here.. the fact that he was able to throw down a 44.7 1back basically his first time swimming it at a big meet, all while unshaven and unrested is significant.. I think he’s gonna make a lot of noise in this event in a few days time

diver
8 months ago

SS snubs Texas, picking zero finalists in 50 and 1back. Doesn’t sit right. I’m not saying at all that there will not be great swims all around. It’s going to be across the board super fast. But the intensity of the Cal-Texas will make these guys faster than they already are. And besides slighting the Texas backstrokers, Seeliger will be at that wall near first.

Last edited 8 months ago by diver
James Beam
8 months ago

Does anyone go under 44?

Anon
Reply to  James Beam
8 months ago

STOKOWSKI 🇵🇱🇵🇱🇵🇱

oxyswim
8 months ago

This event is so loaded, even without Casas. Should be a fun one.

Noah
8 months ago

Bjorn isnt getting 8th.

Bud
8 months ago

In Dean We Trust comments in 3… 2…

Some Guy
8 months ago

Watch out for the Brendan Burns Truthers in the 100 back 👀

Brendan Burns super fan
Reply to  Some Guy
8 months ago

fax no printer

Hswimmer
8 months ago

💪 is my pick. Destin will be better at 200. Not enough speed imo.