Big 12 Men's Championship Recap

Full Big 12 Championship Results

The phrase “Big 12 Men’s Swimming and Diving Champions” is synonymous with the Texas Longhorns. Literally. No other program has ever had that title in front of their team’s name. Granted, the Big 12 has only a fraction of the history that conferences like the Big Ten and the SEC do, but that’s still an impressive record.

This dominance has resulted in Texas never really swimming mind-blowingly fast at Big 12’s. Unlike many of the other conferences we see (including the Big 12 women), there were only a small handful of Championship Records set, and nobody even sniffed a Conference Record (in a swimming event). But the Longhorns did still put up some pretty good times. They set a Meet Record with a 400 medley relay with a group of Cole Cragin, Scott Spann, Neil Caskey and Jimmy Feigen in 3:07.45. With all of the great Longhorn medley relays that there have been, it’s almost unfathomable that this much less-heralded could put up a record-setting time.

Dax Hill also had some great relay swims. He split a 19.04 on the 200 free relay and a 41.76 to anchor the 400 free relay.

For the A&M men, this was a real roller-coaster of a meet. They had an awful swim in the 200 medley relay on day 1, but then came back in a time trial and blew their first mark away. On day 2, they DQ’ed their 200 free relay, and in yet another time trial came back and swam a mark that was faster than they went the first time around.

Senior Balazs Makany was very good for the Aggies. He swam a 1:35.11 to take second in the 200 free, which ranks 18th in the country. The Aggies also got a backstroke swim that they’ve been waiting for all season with a 47.48 from John Ariens.

Just like their women’s program, the Missouri Tigers made their strongest  mark on the backstroke races. This includes Roko Simunic, who was 4th in the 100 in 48.13, and John Higgins, who was 5th in the 200.

Let’s take a look at the scoring, the short list of records, and hand out some awards.

Scoring

1. Texas Longhorns – 1052
2. Texas A&M Aggies – 817
3. Missouri Tigers – 707

Records

400 yard medley relay, Texas, 3:07.45-Championship Record (old mark of 3:07.69 set by Texas in 2009)

200 yard breaststroke, Nick D’Innocenzo, Texas, 1:53.68-Championship Record (old mark of 1:55.28 set by Eric Friedland of Texas in 2010)

Races You Need to Know About

-We alluded earlier to a great anchor swim by Texas’ Dax Hill on the 400 free relay. It wasn’t quite good enough, however,  to chase down A&M freshman Kyle Troskot. Troskot hit the water with just over a one-second lead, and he needed every bit of that lead to fight off a hard-charging Hill. The Aggies ended up winning this race at the very last instant with a school-record time of 2:52.76 (.07 ahead of Texas). This was Texas’ first ever Big 12 Championship loss in this relay, and only the 15th race that they’ve lost at this meet in the 2000’s. A&M coach Jay Holmes has been preaching about the importance of “racing” all season long, and so he couldnt’ve been more thrilled about the way this race ended.

-Texas has a serious 1-2 punch in the 200 IM. With the emergence of Nick D’Innocenzo this season, along with defending NCAA Champ Austin Surhoff, Texas has a legitimate chance of a 1-2 finish in this event at NCAA’s with two sophomores. Surhoff and D’Innocenzo were at a 1:43.8 and 1:43.9, respectively, and based on how the Longhorns swam overall, couldn’t have been anywhere near a shave or taper. What’s even better for their chances is that it’s highly unlikely that either swimmer will be pressed into relay duty prior to this 400 IM, and as such they should be really fresh.

-Scott Spann is still the great mystery of the Texas team. He’s barely competed at all this year, and when he has he has, he hasn’t looked like the Olympian that he has. In the 100 breaststroke, he placed second to teammate Eric Friedeland in a time of 53.99. While he hasn’t put too much force into this meet ever, last year, his first with the Longhorns, he was a half-second faster at Big 12’s. With a crowded breaststroke field this season, he’s going to have to have to fight tooth-and-nail to match his second-place finish in this event at NCAA’s last year. Even in his specialty 200, he might have to fight off Conor Dwyer (who is really an unknown quantity in this event) and National Teamer Adam Klein from Auburn to claim the title that almost has become his destiny. Then again, knowing the level of competition, Eddie Reese might have intentionally chosen to work him harder than normal through Big 12’s to really blow our socks off at NCAA’s.

-Jimmy Feigen was not flashy in this meet, but he was very fast and very consistent. He thrice flat-started 19.2 or 19.3 in the 50 free, and he’s obviously got more than that in his tank. He should definitely get into the 18’s at NCAA’s, and more importantly will be consistent, which is huge in the splash-and-dash races.

-In the men’s 1650, we saw a great back-and-forth battle between transfer Michael McBroom and Jackson Wilcox: both Longhorns. This race represented everything that is great about distance-swimming, as every lap was like a move in a chess match. Wilcox, though seemingly pushed harder than he expected, took the race in 14:47 to McBroom’s 14:49. These are great target marks for these two headed towards NCAA’s, with both shooting for nothing less than a top-5 finish.

TSC Awards

Swimmer of the Meet-Nick D’Innocenzo, Fr., Texas-D’Innocenzo had a ton of cred coming out of high school, but didn’t have the smoothest start to his college career last season. He missed the most important part of his freshman season thanks to a bout with swine flu in October and having his tonsils removed in December. This season, however, he’s going to be one of Texas’ key individual scorers at NCAA’s. In this meet, he won both the 400 IM (3:44.08) and the 200 breaststroke (1:53.68); and was second in the 200 IM (1:43.85). He swam like a man on a mission in this meet, and it was easy to see how jacked-up he was after breaking the meet record in the 200 breast on Day 4.

Honorable Mention:  Jimmy Feigen, Jr., Texas

Coach of the Meet-Eddie Reese, Texas-In a win this dominating, and sans any challenges too spectacular from the other two squads, it’s hard to give this award to anyone else this year. True, Texas didn’t blow the country out of the water with their times, but that’s part of the genius of his coaching. This award should really be split between Reese and his assistant Kris Kubik. After Reese’s brief health scare, he undoubtedly had to take on an increased workload for the Longhorns at the end of this season. This award, though it’s an “of the meet” award, will really be earned in March at NCAA’s though.

Honorable Mention: Jay Holmes, Texas A&M

Freshman of the Meet-Patrick Murphy, Fr., Texas-Murphy certainly lived up to billing in the men’s backstroke events. He was runner-up in both the 100 (47.05) and 200 (1:43.61). He’s already ahead of where teammate Cole Cragin was at this point last season, which must have the Longhorn coaches pumped. Texas is building a three-headed monster in the backstroke events that are going to rival anyone’s in the country for the next 2 seasons.

Honorable Mention: Kyle Troskot, Fr., Texas A&M

Diver of the Meet-Drew Livingston, Jr., Texas-It’s still not clear (short of unfounded speculation) why Livingston skipped the 1-meter competition, but he more than made up for it with his performances in the 3-meter and platform. He put up a huge 527 on the 3-meter, and aside from a sloppy first dive, had probably the best performance of his career on the platform. The latter included a dive that scored straight-10’s for a whopping 99 points. (For those unfamiliar, an average score of 90 wins NCAA’s in this event, straight 80’s probably goes top-3).

Honorable Mention: Grant Nel, Jr., Texas A&M

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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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