Aggie Women Vault into Lead on Day 2 of Big 12's

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 2

February 26th, 2010 College

Day 2 results
Day 1 recap
Day 3 recap

The Texas A&M women have taken a commanding, 72 point lead after the first full day of competition at the 2010 Big 12 Championships, and the Texas men have held-serve with a 61 point-lead over the Texas A&M men.

A&M seems to be the team that came to the Big 12 Championships ready to race. The fact that the A&M men are closer to the lead than the Texas women is very telling of performances on both sides of the scoreboard, as the women’s meet was expected to be very tight, and the men’s was not.

The Women’s Meet

The meet started off with another tight race between the Aggies and the Longhorns in the 200 free relay. The Texas foursome of Karlee Bispo, Bethany Adams, Brie Powers, and Katie Riefenstahl held a narrow lead after the first three legs over A&M’s Maria Sommer, Alia Atkinson, Sarah Woods, and Julia Wilkinson. When Wilkinson and Refenstahl left the blocks, Texas had a .04 second lead. But just like in yesterday’s 800 relay, Wilkinson was not to be denied. The Canadian senior swam a 22.00 to Riefenstahl’s 22.18 to give the Aggies a very important relay win.

In the 500 free, the present and future of the A&M middle-distance group finished first and second. Fifth-year senior Kristen Heiss won the race in 4:40.90, and freshman Maureen McLaine came in at 4:42.95. The two were neck-and-neck for the first half of the race, before Heiss, who is a back-half swimmer, pulled away over the last 150 yards. Even though it was a great time, it was still not Heiss’ best of the season. She previously swam in the 4:38 range all the way back in November. She will be one of the favorites in this event at the NCAA Championships. Texas’ Leah Gingrich appeared to have second place locked up until McLaine blew her away over the last 75 yards, leaving Gingrich in third place at 4:43.31.

The marquee matchup of the day, and probably of the whole meet, was the showdown between Wilkinson and Texas’ Hersey in the 200 IM. Both women are the biggest-name swimmer on their respective teams, and both excel in multiple strokes, which makes the 200 IM a great matchup between the two.

Surprisingly, Hersey took a .35 second lead after the backstroke leg, even though backstroke is Wilkinson’s best stroke. Less surprisingly, Hersey extended that lead to .38 in her best stroke, butterfly. Wilkinson made a big move in the breaststroke, splitting a 33.99 to Hersey’s 34.55. Hersey began to close in on Wilkinson ever so slightly, but ran out of room, as Wilkinson took the gold in 1:55.81, with Hersey finishing runner-up in 1:55.92. Both times are NCAA automatic qualifying times. This race certainly lived up to the hype, and both women showed great competitive heart. A&M’s Atkinson finished well back in third place.

The 50 freestyle was relatively unremarkable as far as 50 freestyles go. Bispo pulled off the first individual win of the meet for Texas by finishing in a relatively pedestrian 22.36. She was followed by the Aggies’ Sarah Woods and Maria Sommer in 22.61 and 22.74, respectively.

In the first women’s diving event of the meet, the Aggie squadron finished very well, with a 1-2 finish from Jaele Patrick and Jamie Potvin. Texas’ Lauren Caldwell and Maren Taylor  finished third and fourth, respectively. If the A&M divers continue to dominate diving, it’s going to be hard for the Texas team to make up much ground in the team standings.

Men’s Meet

In the men’s 200 free relay, Texas wasted no time getting a big lead, to avoid another scare like they saw in yesterday’s medley. They had All-American Jimmy Feigen, the defending NCAA runner-up in the event, lead off the race, and he put it away early. His time of 19.24 gave Texas a .73 lead over Missouri, and .9 second lead over Texas A&M. In a race as short as the 200 relay, with a squad as good as Texas’, that is too much to be made up, and the Longhorns won handily in 1:17.75. The Aggies were second in 1:18.62, with Missouri in third in 1:20.45.

The Longhorns really put away the 500 freestyle, finishing 1-2-3 in the form of Jackson Wilcox, Scott Jostes, and James Robertson. The big surprise here was Jostes, who held a sizable lead for most of the race, before Wilcox crept up and eventually passed him in the last 150 yards. Wilcox’s winning time was 4:16.25, and Jostes’ runner up time was 4:16.35. Both times narrowly missed NCAA automatic qualifying, but should be enough to get both swimmers there. A&M’s Omar Enriquez broke the school record by exactly 3 seconds in 4:20.66. This means that in his freshman campaign, Enriquez has already broken all 3 distance-freestyle school records, the 500, 1000, and 1650, and will likely get a chance to lower his 500 and 1650 records at the NCAA Championships. The 1000 is not an official NCAA event.

The Longhorns showed absolutely incredible depth in the 200 IM, where they finished first through fifth, led by Austin Surhoff’s 1:43.26, a Big 12 Championship record. He was followed by Berens, the previous record holder, in 1:44.37, and Bryan Collins in 1:44.91. Texas likely would’ve gotten the sixth place finisher as well, but Tim Johnson was disqualified.

The 50 free was once again Jimmy Feigen dominating a field in a fashion that the 50 free is not usually dominated in. His time of 19.34 was not as fast as he led off the relay in, or as fast as some had hoped for, but still gave him an easy win. Ben Vanroekel was second in 19.85, just ahead of Texas A&M’s Casey Strange in 19.89. The biggest disappointment was Missouri’s Jordan Hawley, who was the second seed in the event, but finished all the way back in fifth.

The A&M men certainly erased any doubts that we’d see a repeat of last year, where Missouri finished second, based on their outstanding swimming so far. Texas has also reminded us of what we already knew, that in addition to their incredible speed at the top of their lineup, they also have amazing depth, and are getting event wins and huge points from swimmers who most have never heard of.

Scoring

Women’s Meet

1. Texas A&M 357
2.Texas 285
3. Missouri 165
4. Kansas 149
5. Iowa State 113
6. Nebraska 93

Men’s Meet

1. Texas 352
2. Texas A&M 291
3. Missouri 230

Outlook

The A&M women have taken a commanding lead after 2 days,  but Texas should have a good day tomorrow. They will likely win the first two individual events, the 400 IM and 100 fly, to get right back into the meet. The 400 medley relay tomorrow will be another great battle. This time, it will be Texas who will have to fight back. Wilkinson will get the Aggies off to a lead in the backstroke, and Atkinson will extend it big-time in the breaststroke. Hersey will bring the Longhorns roaring back in the fly, and it will be up to A&M’s Woods to hold of Bispo in the freestyle. It will be interesting to see if Bispo can pull off for Texas what Wilkinson has twice for A&M and bring her squad back.

For the men, the big race to watch will be the 100 backstroke. Cole Cragin and Hill Taylor of Texas will have the top seeds, but A&M’s Bergstrom, the six seed, outsplit Cragin in the 200 medley, although that was only a 50 yard swim. If Bergstrom can carry that speed through for an entire 100, he’ll have a chance at knocking off Cragin, who last year set the national high school record in the event. Also watch out for Missouri’s Jan Konarzewski, the third seed, who will have a chance at the Tigers’ first event win of the meet.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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