Returning top-5 men’s programs Texas and Florida clashed in the Texas triangular, but it was Indiana’s Blake Pieroni who stole the show on opening night of the two-day meet.
Friday night’s events were swum in the Olympic-distance long course meters, with the format returning to the NCAA’s short course yards for Saturday. Each day appears to be scored as its own individual meet.
Despite Pieroni’s monumental effort, Texas won the men’s meet Friday, with Florida beating Indiana for runner-up honors.
On the women’s side, Texas also topped all comers, while Indiana narrowly won its dual with Florida.
Pieroni won a pair of events Friday, breaking big barriers in both.
Early in the session, Pieroni topped highly-touted Texas freshman Townley Haas to win the 200 free in 1:49.94. Haas was also impressive, going 1:50.35 as the pair ran away from the rest of the field.
Pieroni returned later in the meet to beat NCAA and U.S. Summer Nationals champ Caeleb Dressel of Florida in the 100 free. Pieroni once again dipped under a major barrier, going 49.93 to Dressel’s 50.38. Texas star Jack Conger was third, back at 51.01.
Both Dressel and Conger would win other events on the evening. Just one event before the 100 free, Dressel took the 50 free in 22.94. That’s the event he won at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Late in the meet, Dressel would beat NCAA fly champ Joseph Schooling in the 100 fly, 53.99 to 54.15. Schooling raised eyebrows with a great short course 100 fly at the Texas Intrasquad meet alongside Conger last month, but it was Dressel who got his hand on the wall first in a battle of former Bolles School Sharks teammates.
For his part, Conger would win the 200 fly in 2:01.01, going 1-2 with Texas teammate John Martens.
Florida’s Corey Main swept the backstrokes, going 56.98 in the 100 and 2:05.15 in the 200.
Both breaststroke races went to Texas’s NCAA champ Will Licon. Licon went 1:03.41 to top Indiana’s Tanner Kurz in the 100 breast and won the 200 breast in 2:20.76.
Fellow Longhorn NCAA champ Clark Smith won both distance free races, going 8:13.16 in the 800 and 3:55.11 in the 400.
Conger, Licon and Schooling combined with John Murray to win the 200 medley relay in 1:41.93. Schooling led the way with a 23.70 split on the fly leg.
The Longhorns would sweep the relays with a 1:32.10 win in the 200 free relay to close the night. Conger (22.76) and Schooling (22.67) led the way with big splits as the Longhorns outlasted a Florida relay that did not feature national champ Dressel.
Florida got one more win late with Mark Szaranek‘s 2:05.40 in the 200 IM.
- Texas 179 – Florida 121
- Texas 201 – Indiana 98
- Florida 157 – Indiana 143
The women’s meet was a back-and-forth affair, with all three teams trading blows within each event discipline.
In a big win for the home team, Texas sophomore Rebecca Millard beat out tough Florida sprinter Natalie Hinds for the 50 free title, 26.28 to 26.49. Hinds would get her revenge in the 100 free though, going 57.27 to top Millard’s 57.67.
The longer free races were a three-way battle. Texas freshman Joanna Evans, a national teamer for the Bahamas, beat multi-time All-American Jess Thielmann for the 800 free title. Thielmann, a British national, was 8:55.80 to Evans’ 8:54.12.
But in the 400 free, Indiana’s Canadian import Kennedy Goss topped both, touching out Evans 4:20.10 to 4:20.30 with Thielmann a few seconds behind.
Freshman breaststrokers battled for the 100-meter win, with Indiana’s Lilly King beating Texas’s Olivia Anderson. Both were under 1:10 in the race; King at 1:09.38 and Anderson at 1:09.71.
A third freshman, Indiana’s Miranda Tucker, won the 200-meter distance, going 2:31.79 to beat King’s 2:32.87. Texas Longhorn Madisyn Cox was third, just .05 behind King.
Cox, a member of the U.S. World University Games team, would come back later to win the 200 IM in a blowout. Her 2:16.42 was more than four seconds better than Tucker’s second-place effort.
The women’s 100 fly was a much closer race, with Indiana’s Gia Dalesandro eking out a win over Hinds, 1:01.60 to 1:01.71. Interestingly enough, Dalesandro would lose the 200 fly – which she has won at Big Tens the past two seasons – to another Gator, Taylor Katz. Katz was 2:16.17 with Dalesandro a half-second back.
Florida went 1-2 in the 100 back with Ashlee Linn (1:03.48) leading freshman Sydney Sell (1:04.29). In the 200, though, Texas freshman Quinn Carrozza took the win in 2:13.66 with Goss second.
Indiana won a tight race in the 200 medley relay. King split 31.3 on breaststroke and Dalesandro was 28.10 on fly as the Hoosiers held off Texas in 1:57.09.
Texas ended the night with a win in the 200 free relay. Millard’s 25.67 split powered the 1:44.54 win with Indiana second and Florida third.
- Texas 168 – Indiana 130
- Texas 171 – Florida 129
- Indiana 159 – Florida 139