2020 Arizona Invite
- December 3-December 4, 2020
- Hillebrand Aquatic Center, Tucson, AZ
- Scores After Day 1
- Men: Arizona 643, Grand Canyon 551
- Women: Arizona 557, Grand Canyon 335
This installment of the Arizona Invite looks vastly different from previous ones, as is the trend this year. The two-day meet only features the hosts Arizona Wildcats, the visiting Grand Canyon Antelopes, and a handful of professionals and/or post-grads.
From a NCAA perspective, the headliners for the day were Arizona’s Brooks Fail and David Schlicht. Fail won the 500 free by over 14 seconds, touching the wall in 4:15.35. That’s over three seconds slower than Fail was at this point last year, which may say something about the extend to which Arizona is tapered for this meet, but it should still easily punch his NCAA ticket. Fail would return later in the session to win the 200 fly in 1:43.35, under the NCAA ‘B’ cut. Fail closed out the day by anchor Arizona’s ‘B’ 200 free relay in 20.36.
Schlicht, who sat out last season to train in his home country of Australia, won the 200 IM in 1:42.97, also securing his NCAA invite, and putting up one of the top ten times in the nation so far this season. That’s actually his 2nd-fastest time ever, behind only his 1:42.38 from the 2019 Pac-12 Championships. Schlicht had also gone 53.53 this morning in the 100 breast, before omitting it tonight to focus on the 100 breast, and split 52.94 on Arizona’s 400 medley relay, which won in 3:10.18
One of the highlights of the day was the men’s 100 back, where 2012 Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers took the win with a time of 45.72. Grevers is 35, and well over a decade removed from college swimming, Grevers doesn’t compete in short course yards that often. In fact, it’s been almost exactly three years since he his last 100 yard backstroke logged in the USA Swimming database, from when he went 44.92 at the 2017 Texas Hall of Fame Invite. Still, Grevers’s time tonight would put him well under the NCAA qualifying time for this event, which has ranged between 46.0 and 46.2 over the last three seasons. The top college finisher in the 100 back was Arizona’s Ogi Maric, who touched in 46.84, just off of his 400 medley relay time of 46.71 earlier in the session, which set a lifetime best by over a second. Grevers also won the 100 free in 43.11.
In other action, Arizona sophomore Ryan Foote won the 100 breast in 54.79. That’s about 1.4s off of his lifetime best from last December, but he dropped a tremendous amount of time between December 2018 and December 2019, so watch for him to make some more improvement this year. Arizona’s Noah Reid and Marin Ercegovic dueled it out for 2nd in the 100 free behind Grevers, with Reid getting his hand on the wall first, 43.96 to 43.98, exactly one second away from his lifetime best.
Arizona also won the 200 free relay in 1:20.19, highlighted by a pair of 19.6 splits by Ercegovic and Maric on the middle two legs.
With the graduation of stars like Mark Nikaloev, Grand Canyon doesn’t have the star power it used to, but the ‘Lopes did get a pair of 2nd place finishes, thanks Mikhail Lyubavskiy‘s 4:29.44 in the 500 free and Amir Haviv‘s 55.55 in the 100 breast,
On the women’s side, we were also treated to seeing a post-grad pop a solid time. Leah Smith, who swam at Virginia before joining former Virginia head coach Augie Busch at Arizona, swam the 200 IM tonight and won with a 2:00.21, which appears to be her second best time ever. Granted, she’s primarily known for her distance swimming, so she focused on the 500 free in college, which falls the same day as the 200 IM at championship meets, but she’s proven herself to be a solid 400 IMer, especially in long course, so it’s always fun to see what she can throw down in an off event. She also swam the 100 back, finishing 4th in 56.52.
Just as on the men’s side, the Arizona women won every event, with most of the top seeds from this morning defending their positions. Amalie Mortensen knocked nearly four seconds off of her time from this morning to win the 500 free in 4:54.22, as the only woman to break five minutes. Those appear the Danish national’s first two swims ever in this event. Teammate Aria Bernal won the 100 in 55.60, well of her best time of 52.00 from the 2019 Pac-12 Championships. Another international swimmer new to Arizona’s roster this year, Canadian Faith Knelson, won the 100 breast in 1:00.60
The 100 free was one of the more exciting events of the nights, as Kayla Filipek defended her top seed from the morning with a time of 50.04, but Mortensen was just behind at 50.24. With that 2nd place finish coming after a win in the 500, watch out for Mortensen in the 200 free tomorrow.
Hannah Farrow won the 200 fly in 2:00.11, finishing almost a half second ahead of Arizona teammate Maddy Burt, who had the top time this morning. Besides Smith, top finisher in the 200 IM was Axana Merckx, who touched in 2:02.85.
The Arizona women won the 400 medley relay in 3:39.92 and the 200 free relay in 1:31.66. Grand Canyon’s top finisher was Madeline Vindiola, who took 2nd in the 500 free in 5:01.94, her 4th-fastest time ever.