Women’s 200 Medley Relay
The A&M women’s medley was supposed to be good. But I’m not sure I expected them to be this good. They returned three swimmers from a 5th-ranked relay from last year’s NCAA Championships, but didn’t seem to have the freestyler to replace their graduated anchor.
They’ve found a freestyler, and they ran away with this event in 1:36.02 – which is the 2nd-fastest time in the country this season (without Pac 12’s having swum yet this evening).
What’s even better is that the quartet of Tess Simpson (24.57), Breeja Larson (26.54), Paige Miller (22.72), and Erica Dittmer (22.19) are still all underclassmen. That relay, through the first three legs, is faster even than Cal’s NCAA Championship relay from last season, though they give up some ground on the final leg (though it’s certainly more respectable of a split than they’ve had this season).
The swim, a Big 12 Championship and Conference record, is better than they were last year, and puts them easily in position for a top-3 finish.
Missouri stunned even further with a 2nd-place finish in 1:37.34. A 22.81 fly split from senior transfer Shara Stafford shows the impact that she’s going to have on this program even in one season, as this broke the school record by a second-and-a-half.
And it was Texas who came in 3rd in 1:37.48. This is another relay that’s entirely made up of underclassmen, but this appears like a big indicator that the Longhorns are not fully rested for the meet – this time is about what they went at their mid-season Texas Invite. Fortunately, that time should (based historically) be good enough to qualify for NCAA’s.
Men’s 200 Medley Relay
This relay was a tale of two different relays. The Longhorns probably expected coming in that it would be that way, as this is their weakest relay. That’s because their two middle legs (Neil Caskey and Eric Friedland) are 200 specialists.
Still, their bookends of Cole Cragin (21.26) and Jimmy Feigen (18.81) are bar-none the best combo in the country, and they carried Texas to a win in 1:25.02.
The runner-up A&M men had some issues with their starts (slipping on blocks, for example), but they still have to be happy with the result of 1:25.82. This race was actually a dead-heat through three-legs, before Feigen took over and ran away from young, but talented, anchor Kyle Troskot.
This is a big hurdle for the Aggies, as this was a relay that they were unable to qualify for NCAA’s last year. This time should get them safely in without having to worry about a last-chance meet. They’ll have some options here at NCAA’s. John Dalton was slightly faster in the 50 free at year’s end last season, but he is a much better 200 freestyler than Troskot, so for this meet they left him off. They may rethink that depending on how everyone is swimming in March.
Missouri took 3rd in 1:26.87. That’s unlikely to qualify for NCAA’s.
Women’s 800 Free Relay
The Texas women bounced back with a slightly better swim in the 800 free relay, and touched for the win in 7:04.09. They had a great swim from Karlee Bispo on the leadoff leg of 1:43.53. That’s the 2nd-best time in the country this season, individually.
The rest of the legs again seem to confirm the lack of rest for Texas at the meet. Katie Riefenstahl split only a 1:48 on the 2nd leg, which is about 3-seconds slower than she’s capable of. That makes Bispo’s time even more frightening – she’s going to be fast at Nationals.
A&M took 2nd in 7:07.35. They knew that these free relays were going to be very difficult for them, and this time in particular is unlikely to earn an invite to NCAA’s without some lineup maneuvering.
Missouri was just behind in 7:07.40. They surprisingly used Stafford on this relay, which was probably going to be their toughest to qualify, rather than saving her for the three shorter groups.
Men’s 800 Free Relay
The Texas men, not surprisingly, won this relay in 6:19.28. The quartet of Dax Hill, Neil Caskey, and the two super-freshman Kip Darmody and Clay Youngquist swam very well. Especially those last two, who have brought the quality back to this relay that Texas is so well known for. They closed the relay in 1:34.5 and 1:35.5, respectively, without much rest.
The cumulative time is 3rd in the country this season, and is faster than they were all of last year (this relay finished a disappointing 9th at last year’s NCAA meet).
The Longhorns again but Jimmy Feigen on the B-relay, which means they’ll be rolling the dice again on the meet-closing 400 free relay. He swam a 1:36.3.
The A&M men have to have been thrilled again with their swim in this race. They have not historically been very strong in this relay, but their runner-up swim of 6:21.88. That’s a school record by roughly three seconds, and ranks them 5th in the country. This relay has been improving for a few years, and appears to have turned a corner. This might actually be one of their best relays now.
Missouri again took 3rd in 6:30.62.
Time Trials Results
The Texas men’s most impressive swims might have come in the day’s time trials. In the 100 breast, Nick D’Innocenzo swam a 53.30, which is the conference’s best time this year. Dax Hill, straight off of a relay swim, also went a very fast 55.0 – though that’s not a huge surprise, given that he was actually a breaststroker in high school. He has been pushing back into this breaststroke, given that the Longhorns need some sprint breaststroke help. In reality, it would be a tough double though as an individual with the 200 free.
Later, in the 200 back, Hayes Johnson swam a 1:43.91 racing himself. He had a great Big 12 meet last year too, and this swim is another strong year-end performance for him.
1. Texas 80
2. Texas A&M 68
3. Missouri 64
1. Texas A&M 74
2. Texas 72
3. Missouri 66
4. Kansas 60
5, Iowa State 56
Live Results available here.
Full session results, including time trials, available here.