Texas Women Close Gap, Texas Men Extend, on Day 3 of Big 12's

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 2

February 27th, 2010 College

Day 3 results
Day 2 recap
Day 4 recap

The Texas Longhorns were the team of the session on day 3 at the 2010 Big XII Championships. The Texas women won the first four swimming events of the day, and closed to within 44 points of the Aggies. The Texas men showed their dominating depth to extend their lead to open up a 189 point lead on the A&M men. This was despite some great individual performances from the Aggies, including their first event win, in the 3-meter spring board.

Women’s Meet

The 400 medley relay went down very much like the 200 medley and 800 free relays did before them, except that this time it was Texas’ turn to chase down the Aggies. In those two previous relays, Julia Wilkinson of A&M threw down great anchor leg swims to come back from deficits to take the lead, but this time Wilkinson led off for the Aggies. A&M opened up a sizeable lead after WIlkinson’s backstroke and Atkinson’s breaststroke legs, but then Texas’ Kathleen Hersey hit the water in the fly. She made up the deficit and then some, and then Karlee Bispo swam a 47.66 in the anchor leg to put away A&M’s Sarah Woods, who split a still impressive 48.79. Both Texas’ time (3:33.12) and A&M’s time (3:33.91) cleared the old conference championship record.

The 400 IM was a very tight race between Texas’ Leigh Gingrich and A&M’s Emily Neal, however Gingrich never trailed throughout. She opened up a small lead after the butterfly, and then extended it in the backstroke, her specialty. Neal caught back up in the breaststroke to narrow her deficit to only .01 seconds. In the freestyle, however, Gingrich simply had more left and pulled away to win by almost a second. Gingrich’s time was 4:09.98, followed by Neal in 4:10.95. The Longhorns made up little ground, however, as the Aggies also finished third in fourth in the race, thanks to Melissa Hain and Melanie Dodds.

The 100 fly was a commanding performance by Texas’ Hersey. Her time of 52.08 was a Big 12 Championship record, breaking the previous mark of 52.26 set by A&M’s Triin Aljand in 2008. Iowa State’s Liu Nan made her team’s first appearance on the medal podium by finishing second in 53.24.

In the 200 freestyle, Texas’ Karlee Bispo won in 1:44.99, for Texas’ fourth straight event win. Kristen Heiss of A&M placed second in 1:45.37, and Missouri’s Jim Jasmer finished third.

The Aggies finally broke through with their first event win on the day in the form of Alia Atkinson in the 100 breaststroke. Alia Atkinson, one of the top breaststrokers in the nation, won the even in a Big 12 meet record of 59.80. Unfortunately for the Aggies, she was the only scorer in the event, as the Longhorns finished second, third, sixth, and seventh, to win the event 58-20. This put a big dent into A&M’s lead.

A&M carried this momentum into another event win, this time from Wilkinson in the 100 backstroke. Her time of 52.77 was an NCAA automatic qualifying time and a season’s best. Kansas’ Iullia Kuzhil had a big second place finish for the Jayhawks by notching a 53.05. The Aggies made up most of the ground they lost in the breaststroke by winning the event 58-27 over Texas.

A&M won their third straight event to close the day, this one in the form of the 3-meter springboard. Jaele Patrick won her second discipline of the meet (she also won the 1-meter springboard) by scoring a 358.50. Janie Potvin, also of the Aggies, finished second, which was A&M’s second 1-2 finish in as many diving events.

Men’s Meet

The Texas Men’s 400 medley relay won with much more ease than they did in the 200 variety. The Longhorns has the best split in every leg of the relay, and missed an NCAA automatic qualifying time by .01 seconds.

In the 400 IM, the Longhorns finished first through fourth, including two swimmers who broke meet records. Bryan Collins won the race in a Big 12 Meet and overall conference record of 3:42.86. His teammate, Austin Surhoff, also easily cleared the old mark of 3:44.27 that Surhoff set at last year’s Big 12 meet. Surhoff went a 3:43.19 this year. The top non-Longhorn finisher was Omar Enriquez of A&M, who broke the A&M school record in 3:49.33, giving him four school records in his freshman season.

The 100 butterfly was the most exciting race of the day by far.  On the first fifty, Texas freestyle sprint king Jimmy Feigen led the race, to nobody’s surprise, followed closely by A&M’s Boris Loncaric, whose style is to swim the first half of his races very hard and to see what he has left for the finish. At the 75 yard mark, Fegien had faded back to second and Loncaric to third, with Texas’ Berens taking the lead. Lurking behind was Hill Taylor of Texas, who is a very strong finisher in these races. These four men battled all the way to the finish, but Berens outtouched them all to finish in 46.34. He was followed by Loncaric in 46.61, Taylor in 46.62, and Feigen in 46.67.

After the excitement of the 100 fly, where the top 5 finishers were separated by exactly 1 second, the men’s 200 freestyle was almost a bit of a letdown. Texas’ Scott Jostes won easily in 1:34.39. The second place finisher, Texas’ Peter Jameson, finished over a second back in 1:35.40, and it was another 1.12 seconds to third  place finisher Balazs Malkany of A&M.

A&M was the team that showed great depth in the 100 breaststroke as they had four out of the top six finishers. Texas’ Eric Friedland won the race in 53.44, followed by his teammate Scott Spann in 53.56. A&M’s Bryan Snowden finished closely behind in 53.65, followed by Aggies Nathan Lavery, Amini Fonua, and freestyle specialist Casey Strange.

In the 100 backstroke, Hill Taylor won in 46.87, narrowly missing an NCAA automatic qualifying time. He was followed by A&M’s Jason Bergstrom (47.46) and Texas’ Neil Caskey (47.56).

Texas A&M diver Grant Nel picked up the first win of the meet for the Aggies in the 3-meter springboard by posting a monster score of 440.55. Drew Livingston, the defending NCAA Champion in the 1-meter, finished second with 425.00 points.

Scoring

Women’s Meet
1. Texas A&M 662
2. Texas 618
3. Missouri 330
4. Kansas 285
5. Iowa State 230
6. Nebraska 159

Men’s Meet
1. Texas 761
2. Texas A&M 572
3. Missouri 476

Outlook

The women’s meet tomorrow will simply come down to which team wants it more. 44 points, in a Championship format, can be made up in a single event. Both teams will be fighting tooth and nail to determine the champion. The always exciting 100 freestyle will be the race of the day, pitting A&M’s Wilkinson against Texas’ Bispo, in a showdown of two potential NCAA finalists. In the 200 backstroke, Texas’ Katie Reifenstahl, A&M’s Kristen Heiss, and Missouri’s Dominique Bouchard should be a very tight race. Look for all three to flirt with NCAA ‘A’ cuts in finals.

The placings in the men’s meet are pretty much sealed up, meaning the swimmers are competing mostly for pride and NCAA qualifications. The best race of the day will be the 200 breaststroke. A&M’s Snowden, who almost pulled off the upset in the 100, will swim the 200, which is typically his better race, and see if he can knock off Spann and Friedland to claim A&M’s first swimming title 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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