2019 MINNESOTA INVITATIONAL
- Wed. Dec. 4 – Sun. Dec. 8, 2019
- Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center / University of Minnesota / Minneapolis, MN
- Wed. Timed finals 6 PM
- Thu.-Sat. Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM / Diving 12 Noon
- Short course yards (SCY) format Wed.-Sat. (LCM format Sunday)
- Psych Sheets
- Live Stream (days 2-4)
- Live results
- Also on Meet Mobile. Search “Minnesota Invite 2019”
Texas brought in a trio of talented transfers this year in the form of Alvin Jiang, Maxime Rooney, and Chris Staka, and while Rooney may have been the new Longhorn with the biggest name recognition, it is Jiang who has arguably made the biggest splash so far, at least in terms of historic splits.
Swimming tonight on the Texas ‘B’ 400 medley relay, Jiang threw down a 43.82 that makes him one a handful of men who’ve broken 44 from a relay start. While there’s no official records kept for relay splits, we know that Austin Staab, Tom Shields, Joe Schooling, John Shebat, and Ryan Held have all been sub-44 (plus, of course, Caeleb Dressel’s otherworldly 42.8 flat start).
What makes Jiang’s time so much more remarkable is that he came into the season with a lifetime best of 46.22 from last year’s ACC Championships, when he was still swimming for UNC. Now, assuming that his 43.8 translates into roughly a 44-mid flat start, he could very well be in the mix for a 100 fly title come March.
The other upshot for Texas is that Jiang’s surge helps give them nearly unprecedented relay flexibility. After last year’s NCAAs, it looked like the fly leg might be a liability after they lost John Shebat and his sub-44 split to graduation (although Drew Kibler did go 45-mid in prelims). Then it looked like Rooney would be the fly leg after he transferred in with a solid 44.73 split from last spring and a 50.68 100 fly LCM time from last year. Now, Jiang’s split tonight makes leaving Rooney off this relay in favor of the other four an increasingly realistic possibility, especially after he lowered his personal best in the 50 free twice today before splitting 44.38 on the fly leg of the Longhorns’ A relay. (Incidentally, replacing Rooney’s 44.38 with Jiang’s 42.82 would’ve put that A relay at 3:00.9).
As if tonight’s results won’t give Eddie Reese enough to think about between now and March, sophomore Drew Kibler also threw down a 4:11.19 in the 500 free. That’s a time that would make every NCAA A-final ever in the 500 free, but last year Kibler swam the 50 free, finishing 9th in prelims and in finals, and had the 2nd-fastest split on Texas’s 200 free relay (18.6). That relay lost Tate Jackson’s 18.3 anchor leg to graduation, and Jake Sannem (18.9) has been MIA so far this season, so one hand it seems Kibler would be needed on that relay, along with with fellow sophomore sprint star Daniel Krueger.
But, it’s not hard to see a 200 free relay of Krueger and Rooney, plus Jiang, who has looked good in the 50 free this season, and freshman Caspar Corbeau, who split sub-19 in high school and has been sharp the past two days, still vying for a NCAA title even if Kibler does end up swimming the 500.
As a whole, the Longhorns are looking far fresher and faster than they normally do at mid-season. Besides the times we’ve already talked about, Ryan Harty and Matthew Willenbring each went 1:41 tonight in the 200 IM, Staka knocked 0.86s off his lifetime best in the 100 back, and Krueger anchored the A relay in 40.7 (although his 50 free times were a bit slower than you’d expect). Last season, some of the Texas swimmers who came up with big swims at mid-season struggled to repeat those times at NCAAs, something that helps explains the 85 point loss to Cal. If Reese can find that secret sauce so that the Longhorns can repeat these times come March, it’s not hard to envision that what was looking to be another tight race between Texas and Cal’s own juggernaut of a team could actually turn into a Longhorn stampede.