Day 2 Results
The Louisville Cardinals men and women swim teams were the overwhelming favorites coming into the Big East Championships, but apparently Notre Dame missed the memo where they were supposed to roll over and give the meet away. After the second day at the Big East Swimming & Diving Championships, the Notre Dame men have opened up a cushion between them and Louisville, while the Notre Dame women sit just five points behind the Cardinals.
The diving events, which were completed on Wednesday, gave Notre Dame a huge boost before their swimmers even hit the pool.
Louisville had the only ranked Big East programs in the latest CSCAA dual-meet polls (women #14, men #16), while Notre Dame’s programs were well down the list of teams “also receiving votes. Despite the disparity, Notre Dame’s programs are sitting in solid position to pull off upsets.
On the men’s side, the scores currently have Notre Dame first with 311 points, and Louisville well back at 280. They are followed by Pittsburgh (251), West Virginia (182), UConn (166), Team Josh Schneider, aka Cincinnatti (134), Seton Hall 86, Georgetown 64, Villanova 62, and Providence 42.
For the women, Louisville at 301 are just ahead of Notre Dame at 296. There are several great team battles behind the two leaders, with hHost Pittsburgh (206) and West Virginia (205) are locked in a battle for third place, followed by Villanova (121), Cincinnatti (120) and Rutgers (120), with UConn not far behind at 111. Georgetown (56), Seton Hall (42), and Providence College (36).
Notre Dame’s men had 101 points built up after the diving events, which were completed on Wednesday. Wes Villaflor and Nathan Geary finished first and second, respectively, in both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events for the Irish. Louisville only managed 26 points in the diving events, which placed them dead last amongst 5 Big East teams who fielded men’s diving squads at the meet.
It didn’t take long for Louisville to begin to make their move in the pool. West Virginia’s Jared Christie-Goldsthorpe, an outstanding freshman, took the win in the 500 freestyle. The next 3 finishers, Riley Martin, Michael Pryor and Shane Lichtenberg, all sported Louisville red. Notre Dame had two one A-finalist, who finished 5th (Steven Brus) and 8th (Mackenzie Leblanc).
Louisville scored it’s first even victory in the 200 IM in the form of Carlos Almeida, who went a 1:45.71. Notre Dame’s William Bass finished second in 1:46.44, which was a season best for him by over four seconds.
The 50 freestyle saw Cincinatti’s Josh Schneider blow away the competition in a way that simply is unheard of at this level of competition. Schneider’s winning time of 19.10 is the fastest time in the nation so far, and was .92 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, Kristopher Findorff of Louisville. That equates to winning by over a body-length. As a comparison, Gideon Luow of Auburn won the SEC title in 19.18 (although he was only able to put .07 between himself and the second place finisher). Schneider has flown largely under the radar to become one of the best swimmers in the nation. He will also be the top seed in tomorrow’s 100 fly, an event where he has the nation’s 6th best time. As an indicator of his rapid improvement, Schneider was ranked 39th in the nation in the 100 fly last year.
Immediately after the 50 free, Findorff got right back into things in the 200 free relay, by helping to lead Louisville to a win in 1:20.12. Findorff swam the second leg of the relay, and was surrounded by Brendon Andrews, Christopher Grimes, and Carlos Van Isschot. Pittsburgh finished close behind in 1:20.66, with Notre Dame in third in 1:20.93.
Notre Dame’s swimmers have been swimming out-of-their-minds so far, but whether or not they got a big enough lead from their divers to hold of the Cardinals is yet to be seen. If they plan to hang on to first, they will really need to get some special swims from their athletes.
The Women’s meet was a little bit of an opposite story from the men’s. After the diving, the Notre Dame held a lead, but not by nearly as wide of a margin as the men did. In the 1-meter, both Hannah Gadd of Louisville and Natalie Stitt of Notre Dame broke the Big East meet record, but Gadd’s 310.60 just beat out Stitt’s 309.60. Another meet record was broken in the 3-meter, but this time it was Notre Dame’s Jenny Chiange who claimed the top spot with a score of 3:13.35. Gadd finished second in 300.65, followed by Stitt in 296.90.
Notre Dame’s women swimmers, however, faredmuch better than their male counterparts on the second day of competition. Neither team scored well in the 500 freestyle, with Grace Fredlake of Notre Dame finishing 4th and Amanda Henleben finishing 8th, but neither was expected to all that well either. Fredlake dropped 3 seconds off of her season best in the prelims, and another 2 in the finals, to finish significantly higher than where she was seeded. The event was won by West Virginia’s Rachael Burnett, which is a Big East meet record. Burnett, only a freshman, should expect to break that record a few more times before she’s done.
In the 200 IM, Louisville’s Leslie Vanwinkle took top honors in 1:58.13 ahead of Notre Dame’s Ashlee Edgel in second at 2:00.70. Louisville also finished 5th, but Notre Dame took 6th and 8th.
The men’s 50 free saw a huge margin of victory, but the women’s was almost as close as it gets. Notre Dame’s Amywren Miller scored a 22.47; barely outtouching Kayla Andrews of West Virginia, who went 22.50. Louisville had 4 swimmers in the A-final, which was loaded with experience: The top 8 finishers consisted of 5 seniors, 2 juniors, and only 1 sophomore.
The Louisville Cardinal won their first relay of the meet (West Virginia took the 800, and Notre Dame the 200 medley on day 1), which was the 200 free relay. This came as no surprise to anyone, as all four of Louisville’s relay members were in the A-final of the individual event immediately before hand: Whitney Campbell (3rd), Nicole Landisch (4th), Elizabeth Halet (6th), and Lacey Bobo (8th). Notre Dame’s group finished second, thanks to a strong anchor leg from 50-yard individual champion Miller. Miller’s split of 21.91 was the fastest of the relay event.
Although the Notre Dame women do not have a lead like their male teammates do, I give them a better shot of pulling of the upset. A telling race will be the 100 fly. Louisville’s Lorraine Thompson has the top seed, but she will be chased by 3 Notre Dame swimmers who have the second, third, and fourth seeds. If one of the Irish athletes can knock of Thompson, it would be huge for their chances, both points-wise as well as emotionally.