Arizona’s junior college transfer Brad Tandy broke 19 seconds in the 50 free at night one finals of the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational, making him the first college swimmer to do so this season (although his eligibility for this season is still undisclosed by the University). In addition, Giles Smith lowered his NCAA-leading butterfly time, Margo Geer went a season-best to sit tied atop the national rankings and Bonnie Brandon went a 4:35 in the 500 free on a night chock full of breakout swims for Arizona.
USC kicked off the meet by winning the women’s 200 free relay and putting up the 3rd fastest time in the NCAA in 2013. The Trojans also outlasted in-state rivals California, who were also competing in the relay across the country in Knoxville. USC finished four tenths ahead of the Golden Bears, who are swimming at Winter Nationals this week. The Trojan team was made up of Kasey Carlson, Katarzyna Wilk, Evan Swenson and Kendyl Stewart. Carlson was nearly a lifetime best leading off the relay; she went 21.92. Wilk kept things rolling with a 21.8 split, and Stewart was 22.01 on the anchor leg.
They finished well ahead of Arizona, which took second in 1:29.46. The Wildcats did get the fastest split overall, though, with defending NCAA champion Margo Geer going 21.63 from a relay exchange.
Texas touched out USC in a tight battle on the men’s side of the event, with the two teams putting up the 2nd and 3rd fastest times in the nation. Texas took the early lead on Matt Ellis‘s 19.59 leadoff, but the Trojans roared back with Santo Condorelli and Cristian Quintero each splitting 19.0s to put USC back in the driver’s seat. But Texas’s Caleb Weir put up a huge anchor split of 19.1 to run down USC and give Texas the come-from-behind win. Texas went 1:17.57; USC was 1:17.74. Harvard was third with all four swimmers under 20 seconds, and beat Arizona by .01. The Wildcats had relays roughly split, as their B came in right after their A. Giles Smith was 19.5 leading off the A, but the fastest split was by breaststroker Kevin Steel who went 19.34 from the B.
Bonnie Brandon had a gigantic finals swim in the 500 free, going a lifetime-best 4:35.43. That time ranks second in the nation, only trailing the 4:34.6 put up by Missy Franklin at Winter Nationals earlier tonight. Brandon simply swam away from USC’s Chelsea Chenault early on – Chenault, the top seed, was 4:38.96 for second place. Her teammate Lynette Lim was third in 4:41.07.
The next event was the women’s 100 fly, where UCSB’s Andrea Ward looked to defend her top seed and eye-popping time from this morning. Ward wasn’t able to match her 51.7 from the prelims, but still took second overall in 52.32. She was passed up by a huge swim from USC’s Kendyl Stewart, who went 51.39, faster than she was at NCAAs last year and just .07 off her lifetime best. Ward was 52.32 in the runner-up spot, and Penn State’s Mackenzie Powers went 52.52 for third. The fourth-fastest time of the field was put up in the B heat, where UCLA’s Katie Kinnear went 53.02 to take 9th place.
Giles Smith was very impressive in the prelims of his 100 fly, but the Arizona senior found a way to go even faster at night: he went 44.73 after putting up a 44.75 this morning. His Wildcat teammate Andrew Porter took second in 46.27, while USC’s Chase Block was third with a time of 46.59.
The men’s 500 free was a tight, back-and-forth race between former Texas swimmer Michael McBroom and USC’s Cristian Quintero. Quintero led early, but McBroom fought back through the middle 300 and the race turned into a deadlock right up to the finish. McBroom wound up getting the touch in 4:12.53, with Quintero going 4:12.85. That time for Quintero is tops in the NCAA by a longshot, even beating out Connor Jaeger’s time of 4:14.0 that won a national championship over in Tennessee tonight. USC’s Reed Malone was third in 4:17.08 and Wisconsin’s Nick Caldwell took fourth.
Next was the women’s 200 IM where Southern Cal’s Stina Gardell went 1:55.60 to win. She blew away the field with a 28-second backstroke leg, the fastest of the night. Her teammate Megan Hawthorne completed the 1-2 sweep for USC; Hawthorne went 1:56.62. Madison Cox followed her closely in 1:56.83 for third. Also notable was Andrea Kropp, who went 1:57.74 to win the B final for USC.
Arizona’s Michael Meyer held onto his top seed in the men’s 200 IM, dropping a second to go 1:44.01 and coming home in 24.9 on freestyle. He was pushed by USC’s Dimitri Colupaev, who was 1:44.57 for second place. There was a three-way Arizona battle for third, with Sam Rowan (1:45.23) winning over Eric Solis (1:45.59) and Andrew Porter (1:45.60). Will Licon of Texas blew away the B final, going 1:45.98.
Margo Geer, Arizona’s star sprinter, paced the field in the women’s 50 free, going 21.78 to tie Stanford’s Maddie Schaefer atop the NCAA rankings. USC’s Kasey Carlson also got under 22, going 21.90 for second. Ivy Martin of Wisconsin couldn’t quite match her prelims speed, but still took third in 22.25.
The swim of the night might have come from Arizona’s junior college transfer Brad Tandy. Tandy, who is swimming unattached at this meet, went a blistering 18.97 to win the 50 free. His eligibility status for this season is still undisclosed, but that time would have ranked him at the top of the NCAA in an event where only Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini and new pro Vlad Morozov were under 19 last season. Texas’s Matt Ellis took second in 19.37, which ties for second in the nation, and USC’s Santo Condorelli was 19.68 for third place. UCSB’s Wade Allen was fourth and Texas postgrad Jimmy Feigen took fifth.
Arizona won the women’s 400 medley relay in dramatic fashion, making up over a full second in the final leg to get past USC for first place. Arizona anchor Margo Geer went an unbelievable 46.9 to run down the Trojans. Arizona went 3:33.66 to USC’s 3:33.96. The Wildcat relay was made up of Bonnie Brandon (who was a strong 52.64 leading off), Emma Schoettmer, Ashley Evans and Geer. For their part, the Trojans got a big-time breaststroke split from sprinter Kasey Carlson, who went 58.37.
USC’s B relay took third, highlighted by a 53.0 fly split from Meghan Hawthorne. Had Hawthorne swam on the A instead of Jasmine Tosky (who went 54.2), USC would have beaten Arizona soundly. Tosky doesn’t seem to be feeling herself tonight – she gained two seconds in the 200 IM final to take seventh after coming in with the third seed.
Texas was fourth with a 53.2 split from butterflyer Brynne Wong, and UCLA took fifth with butterflyer Ting Quah going 52.4.
The Arizona men won their 400 medley relay convincingly, putting up the top time in the nation by 4 seconds: 3:03.73. The catalyst was Kevin Cordes spitting fire on a 49.78 breaststroke split, although Giles Smith added in a 44.6 butterfly split of his own. That split is a bit disappointing, considering Smith went 44.7 in the open 100 fly, but it was also his third swim of the session.
USC was second in 3:06.50 – that was also faster than Louisville’s then-nation-leading time put up at Winter Nationals earlier tonight. The Trojans were strong across the board, with Luca Spinazzola leading off in 46.12, Sergio Lujan-Rivera putting up a big 51.91 breaststroke split (a 51-second breaststroke split is big for anyone not named “Cordes”), Maclin Davis was 46.3 on fly and Dimitri Colupaev went 42.11 bringing it home. For Spinazzola and Lujan-Rivera, those times are faster than they were at NCAAs last year.
Texas took third, getting a 45.8 fly split from Matt Ellis and a 46.6 back from Jack Conger. USC’s B team was fourth and Penn State took fifth.
The meet will continue two more days through Saturday night. Stay tuned to SwimSwam.com for continuing coverage.