For the second-straight season, the North Texas Mean Green welcomed in TCU for a Metroplex-area pentathlon meet to start off the 2014-2015 season. This year, the event was expanded to include UT-Permian Basin – a Division II school a few hours west of Dallas – which brings the benefit of a second men’s team to race the TCU men (UNT doesn’t have a men’s program).
This meet format sees a 100 yard race in each of the four strokes, plus a 100 IM, with each swimmer racing all five events in a short period of time. Those times are usually added up to determine an overall winner, though at this edition, the individual overall winners were not announced.
The North Texas women, a program that has been climbing the ranks of mid-majors over the last half-decade, were dominant in their home event.
The program may have found its new star early in the season at this meet. Senior Krista Rossum won three of the five women’s events and was second in the other two, and if aggregated would likely be the overall champion.
The meet began with the TCU women’s only victory when 17-year old freshman Emily Gibson swam a 57.22 in the 100 fly. Her signing was a big coup for TCU, coming out of the like powerhouse Southlake Carroll program. She was the runner-up in Texas’ 5A State Championship meet the year before.
Gibson didn’t really appear to have a big taper this past summer – she doesn’t have any Summer Nationals or Juniors cuts – and is coming in to TCU refreshed.
Three UNT swimmers placed behind her, with Rossum touching 2nd in 57.28, Mona Groteguth taking 3rd in 57.61, and freshman Sydney Buckley placing 4th in 47.62.
The next women’s event win went to 23-year old senior Groteguth on this veteran North Texas team. She won the 100 backstroke in 56.79, with Rossum again taking 2nd in 59.02.
From there-on, it was the Krista Rossum show, though TCU’s freshman class, one of their best in recent memory, continued to show their coaches early that they’re ready for the dependence that the Horned Frogs will undoubtedly have to place upon them.
Rossum won the women’s 100 breaststroke by over two seconds, swimming a 1:04.77. After a difficult junior season, that’s almost as fast as she went all of last year in the event (though she’s been a 1:01 in her time at UNT).
In 2nd behind her was TCU freshman Lindsay Shabet in 1:07.12, and TCU freshman Devin Newton in 1:07.57.
Next-up came a 52.63 in the 100 free for Rossum. While a slightly narrower margin-of-victory, the Mean Green went 1-2-3 in that race, with Lauren Tidwell placing 2nd in 53.12 and Groteguth taking 3rd in 53.23.
That race is further example of how well UNT swam on Friday. Last year, their top four 100 freestylers aggregated to just a 3:38 at this meet. This year, they aggregate to a 3:32 with Isabelle Morris as the 4th leg. That’s made all the more exciting by the fact that the team’s best 100 freestylers from last year (Bianca Bosca, Michelle Balcaen, Courtney Connelly, Zoe James) all returned to the team this year, but wouldn’t have been in the team’s proper relay at this meet. There’s still a long season to go to fight for those spots before the Conference USA Championships, of course, but UNT swimming seems poised to rise to another level this season.
Rossum finished her day with a 57.95 in the 100 IM. Last year, she was a 59.60 at this meet and the only swimmer under 1:01. While TCU freshman Newton was able to get a little closer to the minute barrier than anyone did last season (1:00.53 for 2nd), it still wasn’t good enough. UNT took 3 of the top 4 spots in that race.
To summarize Rossum’s day, her five swims totaled to a 4:51.65. That seven-and-a-half seconds faster than last year. For more perspective on this rather unique format, her times would have placed her 6th, for example, at the Cal-Cal Poly Queen of the Pool event – ahead of well-known swimmers like Noemie Thomas, Marina Garcia, and Rachael Acker.
In the men’s meet, TCU, as a Division I school, really dominated UTPB, though the Falcons did get in at least one good shot.
First, the winners of each event:
- 100 fly – Adam Szilagyi – 51.32 (TCU)
- 100 back – Cooper Robinson – 50.44 (TCU)
- 100 breast – Alex Ruata – 58.64 (UTPB)
- 100 free – Chris Hearl – 47.15 (TCU)
- 100 IM – Cooper Robinson – 53.47 (TCU)
Szilagyi started off his meet well, and in true Hungarian fashion won the 100 fly (his younger sister is a Youth Olympic Games Champion). He bowed out early, though, swimming the 100 fly and the 100 back before skipping the rest of the pentathlon.
Next up came a win for the Horned Frogs’ NCAA Championship qualifier, Cooper Robinson. Swimming his specialty, the backstroke, Robinson was a 50.44. That’s six-tenths slower than he was last season, though last season he was actually beat by Szilagyi, who wasn’t very good this year. This year, Robinson won running-away.
UTPB got their breakthrough with Alex Ruata won the men’s 100 breaststroke in 58.64. That’s a little faster than he began his 2013-2014 collegiate season. Ruata is one of the best swimmers in program history, is the school record holder in both breaststrokes and both IM’s, and is on the team’s all-time top-10 list in 7 out of 13 events.
TCU’s Ford Story, the defending meet champion in this event, was 2nd in 59.46.
The men’s 100 free went to TCU sophomore Chris Hearl in 47.15. Robinson was 2nd in 48.06, and Sebastian Arispe was 3rd in 48.14. Garrett Hills, who won this race at this meet to begin his college career last season, was almost two seconds slower to place just 5th this year.
Robinson capped the meet with another win, making him the only male to take two events this year. He swam a 53.47 in the 100 IM to finish things off ahead of Ruata’s runner-up 54.83. As one would expect, Robinson took a big lead on the front-half, but Ruata fought back coming home.
In total, while Robinson wasn’t as good in the 100 back as last season, this was a better overall meet for the senior from Katy, Texas than last year. In 2014, Robinson was able to earn his first qualification for the NCAA Championships, but it took nearly a full-taper to just get there. This year, he’ll be shooting to earn his spot with less effort and save his best swims for nationals.
TCU’s women will next race Tulane, at home, on September 27th, while the men won’t race again until another matchup with UTPB on October 12th (a co-ed meet).
UNT hosts the North Texas Relays next Friday, the 26th, at the Southlake Carroll Natatorium, and UTPB will have their intrasquad meet next weekend as well on September 27th.
Full meet results available here.