Just a couple of days into 2015 and the Arizona Wildcats have already stocked their record with 5 dual meet wins on the year.
The Arizona men and women topped Missouri at home in spirited showdowns, while the Wildcat women also picked up wins against Oregon State, Northern Arizona and New Mexico State.
Though Missouri boasts a strong lineup with big hitters like All-American Dani Barbiea, the Lady Wildcats were incredibly impressive, stifling the Tigers attack and holding their biggest challengers to just one individual win.
That was keyed by a pair of 1-2 finishes from Bonnie Brandon and Cameron McHugh in the backstroke events. Brandon, the team’s junior star and one of the top individuals in the nation, went 54.83 to lead the 100 back, and McHugh, a freshman sensation out of Texas, was 56.90 for second place. The duo returned to 1-2 the 200 back. Brandon again led in 1:58.02 and McHugh was 2:00.21.
McHugh went on to win the 200 IM in 2:06.74.
Equally important were junior Taylor Schick and senior Elizabeth Pepper, who shut down Missouri’s star Barbiea in both of her individual races. Schick out-dueled Barbiea in the 50 free 23.11 to 23.47. Then at the end of the meet, Pepper beat Barbiea in her best event, the 100 fly, by a margin of 55.51 to 55.74. Barbiea tied teammate Erin Metzger-Seymour for that runner-up spot.
Schick and Pepper each won one more individual race apiece. Schick took the 100 free to complete a sprinting sweep with a 50.63, and Pepper went 2:00.78 to take the 200 fly.
Also sweeping a stroke discipline for Arizona was Emma Schoettmer, who was untouchable in the breaststrokes. Schoettmer was 1:01.93 to beat Missouri’s Abby Duncan (1:02.29) in the 100 and then went 2:13.81 to lead a 1-2 in the 200.
Meanwhile Samantha Pickens won both diving events for the home team, scoring 306.30 points on 1-meter and 292.45 on 3-meter, though the event was exhibitioned.
Metzger-Seymour won the only event for Missouri, going 1:51.90 in the 200 free.
In that race, she beat out Pac-12 distance star Sammy Harrison of Oregon State. Harrison couldn’t quite take that 200, but was dominant in both distance races, going 4:52.67 in the 500 and 9:49.80 in the 1000.
The Wildcats punctuated their night by going 1-2 in the 400 free relay, led by a 3:24.14 from the top relay. Brandon was 50.10 leading that team off.
Arizona also won the 200 medley relay in 1:42.24.
The men’s meet featured just two teams, but saw the Wildcats and Tigers trade blows in various strokes.
Missouri swept the backstrokes, but Arizona answered right back by winning each breaststroke event directly following each back race. Those backstroke wins came courtesy of Carter Griffin. The sophomore was 50.03 in the 100 back, plus 1:47.63 in the 200, beating out one of Arizona’s top threats (South African Michael Meyer) in both.
But American record-holder Kevin Cordes immediately turned momentum back to Arizona both times, winning the breaststroke races. Cordes was 54.37 in the 100 and 1:59.79 in the 200. Those were enough to beat Missouri’s tough gauntlet of breaststrokers that includes Sam Tierney and Igor Kozlovskyij.
Meanwhile in the freestyles, the teams also traded blows. Nick Hogsed swept the distance races for Arizona, going 4:30.60 in the 500 and 9:18.99 in the 1000. But in the mid-sprints, Mizzou came out on top courtesy of Michael Chadwick. The sophomore was 1:41.35 to eke out a tight win over Thane Maudslien (1:41.38) in the 200. He also won a close battle in the 100, going 45.47 to beat Brad Tandy‘s 45.52.
Tandy, the reigning NCAA champ in the 50 free, was able to take that race, though he couldn’t quite crack 20 seconds. Tandy was 20.13.
The big difference-maker between Arizona and Mizzou (other than depth) was freshman Rasmus Skjaerpe, who swept the final two individual events to give Zona the win. Skjaerpe took the 100 fly in 49.53, the only guy under 50 seconds. After the diving break (only female divers competed, according to results), Skjaerpe went 1:52.44 to beat teammate Michael Meyer in the 200 IM.
The Wildcat men had their biggest relay win in the 200 medley, going 1-2. The top relay was 1:29.70. They also took home the 400 free relay in 3:02.79.