The Tennessee Volunteers cruised to road SEC victories over LSU Saturday, with the Tennessee men coming down with a clean sweep of all 16 events.
That was keyed by a 3-win night from freshman Sam McHugh. Meanwhile, the Volunteer women took 9 of 16 events, including a breaststroke sweep by Molly Hannis and a near-freestyle sweep from Faith Johnson and Madeline Tegner.
Things went back and forth early on, but the Vols put together a 4-event win streak late in the meet to power away with a 159-135 victory.
Tennessee was all but unstoppable on the freestyles. The junior Johnson and the sophomore Tegner won two events apiece to nearly complete a sweep of the free events on the day. Johnson won the 50 (22.59) and 100 (49.84), while Tegner was the star in the distances, taking the 500 (4:53.54) and 1000 (9:57.58).
The only freestyle event that LSU could steal was the 200, where junior Megan Cox just nipped Tennessee junior Mary Griffith 1:48.58 to 1:48.75.
Meanwhile Hannis rampaged through the breaststrokes, winning both with ease. Her 1:00.43 paced the 100, and she took the 200 in 2:10.09, winning by over six seconds. She also split 27.52 to essentially win the 200 medley for her team, outsplitting LSU’s breaststroke leg by almost a full second.
The biggest individual winner on the day, though, was LSU’s Kara Kopcso, who starred in front of the home crowd. The sophomore tripled up, winning both butterfly races and the 400 IM. Her toughest test was in the 100 fly, where she eked out a win over teammate Amber Carter 54.11 to 54.28. Kopcso would also win the 200 fly (1:58.97) and 400 IM (4:17.87) with nice mid-season swims.
The two teams traded blows early, but Johnson’s 100 free win (also over LSU’s Carter) set off a 4-event run that ultimately doomed the Tigers. Anna DeMonte won the 200 back in 1:58.30 before Hannis took the 200 breast and Tegner the 500 free for Tennessee.
LSU swept diving with the combo of Alex Bettridge (317.93 on 1-meter) and Cassie Weil (307.80 on 3-meter). Also winning for the Tigers was Caley Oquist, who claimed the 100 back in 54.68.
Freshman Sam McHugh was Tennessee’s most highly-touted recruit last offseason, and he’s shown up big already in his rookie year. McHugh won three times to power Tennessee past the Tigers in a clean 16-for-16 sweep.
McHugh opened up the scoring with a win in the 200 free, the night’s second individual event. His 1:38.19 led a 1-2-3 finish for the Vols. Then in the 200 fly, McHugh beat LSU’s top swimmer, Frank Greeff, 1:46.58 to 1:48.57. Finally, McHugh closed the night by pacing the 400 IM in 3:49.54.
Meanwhile rising distance man Evan Pinion doubled up, going 4:32.14 to win the 500 free and 9:23.74 to take the 1000.
Also winning multiple races was redshirt senior Troy Tillman, who swept the sprints. Tillman won a tight 50 free battle 20.63 to 20.67 over teammate Chris Sadsad, then took the 100 free in 44.98.
Tillman was also 19.7 anchoring the 200 medley relay, which won in a nice 1:27.71. The big difference-maker there was breaststroke Peter John Stevens, who split 24.1 to add nearly 1.5 seconds to the Tennessee lead at the half-way mark.
Maurico Robles, coming off a big weekend at the Tennessee Diving Invite, took both diving wins, scoring 351.23 on 1-meter and 401.03 on the higher springboard.
Tristan Slater, who was second behind McHugh in both the 200 free and 400 IM, broke through with a win of his own in the 200 breast, going 2:00.70. Meanwhile the team’s top backstroker Sean Lehane took the 200 back with ease in 1:44.86 (a 5-second margin of victory), and the shorter backstroke went to Jimmy Dagley in 49.49.
Other winners for Tennessee included Ross Dibblin in the 100 breast (55.24) and Jacob Thulin in the 100 fly (48.85). That completed a 184.5-106.5 victory for the Vols.