#3 Arizona Men 193.5, #8 USC 106.5
When the first CSCAA dual meet poll came out last week, and Arizona was ranked number 3 in the country, more than a few eyebrows were raised. This implied that Arizona would be expected to win a dual meet right now against all of the other Pac 12 teams, including #4 Stanford and #6 Cal. With Arizona assistant Geoff Hanson standing as the Pac-12 representative, I was skeptical of that initial placement.
The Wildcats had no problem backing up that ranking, however, with a dominant victory over the USC Trojans.
The most striking results were the Arizona relays. They won the 200 medley in 1:26.69, which is easily the fastest in the country this year. They are so good that they actually took 2nd in a 1:28.18, which is the #2 time in the country this year (they have the 4-fastest 200 medleys of the season, in fact).
The winning A featured splits of 22.1 from Mitchell Friedemann on backstroke, 24.05 from Kelley Wyman on breaststroke, an astonishing 20.63 from transfer Giles Smith on the fly leg, and a 19.88 from Tommy Gutman on the anchor. That relay doesn’t even include senior Adam Small, who we have not seen swim for the Wildcats this year but is one of the best 50 freestylers in the country. (Small is not competing for Arizona this semester, but will in the spring).
Not that USC didn’t look good. Their 1:28.35 ranks them as the #2 program in the country this year in the event (including a 19.11 anchor from Vlad Morozov), but Arizona is looking reminiscent of Cal 2011 with the medley depth they put up in this meet.
In the 400 free, the Wildcats didn’t go 1-2, but they were able to put up a blistering 2:56.81 that is the best time in the country by about half-a-second. That group featured many of the same pieces in freestyle roles, including a 43.77 third-leg from Mitchell Friedemann. Also inpressive was a flat-start 44.56 from Kelley Wyman, who was the breaststroker on their medley. USC touched 2nd there in 2:59.47.
In between, there was some crazy-impressive swimming from both sides. Friedemann looked as ghood individually as he did in the relay with a 100 backstroke win in 47.69. That includes nipping All-American Cory Chitwood, who touched 2nd in 47.82. Arizona complete a 1-2-3 finish thanks to Michael Sheppard’s 48.42.
Arizona freshman Kevin Cordes followed that race with a win in the 100 breast in 53.79. That puts him as the fastest in the country this year (Arizona has 3 in the top 5), and stands him out even amongst a very impressive freshman breaststroking class. This was another 1-2-3 with Carl Mickelson taking 2nd in 54.14 (2nd in the country) and Kevin Munsch posting a 54.67 (5th in the country).
The string was broken by a 4th-place from Morozov in 55.79. People forget how good he is in the breaststroke races. With an eye towards the program’s huge hole in the breaststroke races, Morozov has swum this 100 more than once this season, which may be a clue for their medleys (their two top breaststrokers – Morozov and Colupaev – are also their two top freestylers).
Morozov would take a big win in the 100 free in 44.21, though that’s not his best time of the year. The next day against Arizona State in Tempe, he posted a 19.63 in the 50 free, which is the best time in the country this year.
Chitwood would tack on a win in the 200 back for Arizona in 1:42.79, which is by more than a second the best time in the country this year. USC’s Alex Lendrum took runner-up honors 1:44.95, which puts him 3rd in the country this year (behind only Chitwood and Shields). Lendrum had a very good summer (5th in this race at Nationals), and he looks to have carried that into the fall semester.
That swim by Chitwood is indicative ov a larger paradigm shift by the Wildcats under new coach Eric Hansen. Almost to a man, the Wildcats were much faster at this meet than they were during a similar point in 2010. Chitwood, for example, was going 1:44.5 in the 200 back a year ago (also against USC). The big storyline of the Arizona season is going to be how well they can hold those improvements (they are reported to have been suited for this meet). It will be very interesting to see if they put up their usual Texas Invite time drops in early December or not – look for a lot of comparisons after that meet.
#5 USC Women 156, #8 Arizona 144
Defending NCAA Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu continued to look back to her old form after a rough summer as she led the USC women to a narrow 12-point victory over Arizona.
The Hungarian swept her 3 individual events on the day: in the 200 free she went a 1:46.15, the top time in the country; in the 200 back, an event she doesn’t swim often, she won in 1:57.76, the #6 time in the country; and finally back to her bread-and-butter of the 400 IM, she won in 4:12.97. It’s going to be hard to pick against her as a triple-winner at NCAA’s again this season.
(A day later, at USC’s dual with Arizona State, she would win the 200 IM in 1:57.80, which is another nationally-best time.)
In that 200 free that Hosszu won, Arizona’s Alyssa Anderson also impressed with a 1:46.34, which is #2 in the country this year. She would add to that a victory in the 200 fly in 1:58.13 headed into the big grudge-match with her sister Haley of USC in the 500.
Haley led the race nearly wire-to-wire, but not before Alyssa gave her a huge push on the final 100 meters. Alyssa made up a gap of more than a second (though Haley swims open water, Alyssa is the better closer), but at the end the younger Haley held on for the touch in 4:46.70. Alyssa was 2nd in 4:46.84. Those are both top-10 times nationally.
Sophomore Margo Geer was the star for Arizona, with wins in the 50 (22.57) and 100 (48.84) freestyles without much competition. Her relay splits were even more impressive – she anchored the medley in 21.73 and led-off the 400 free relay in a flat-start 48.44.
As compared to the men, the Arizona women were good, but not quite as blistering as their counterparts (which is odd considering that they train jointly).