Texas A&M Women Edge Kentucky in Thrilling SEC Opener

by Riley Overend 1

November 04th, 2022 College, News, Previews & Recaps, SEC

Texas A&M vs. Kentucky

  • Thursday, Nov. 3
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Rec Center Natatorium
    • College Station, Texas
  • Results

Thursday’s thrilling SEC opener between Kentucky and Texas A&M came down to the last event of the afternoon on the women’s side. 

Lauren Poole and Gillian Davey finished 1-2 in the 400 IM to give the Wildcat women a slight advantage heading into the last race of the day. But the Aggies reclaimed the lead with a 1-2 showing in the 200 free relay, clinching a 154-146 victory over the Kentucky women. 

Texas A&M was carried by a trio of swimmers who swept multiple events. Abby Grottle dominated the distance events with wins in the 500 freestyle (4:50.43) and 1650 free (16:42.01). Olivia Theall won the 100 butterfly (53.09) and 200 fly (1:58.60) while Chloe Stepanek secured victories in the 100 free (50.14) and 200 free (1:47.65).

Theall, Bobbi Kennett, JoAnn Adler, and 50 free champion Manita Sathianchokwisan combined for a clutch 200 free relay win in 1:32.07 to seal the Aggies’ victory at the buzzer. 

Caitlin Brooks put together an impressive 22-point tally for the Wildcats. The senior led off the victorious 200 medley relay team (24.96 backstroke split) to open the matchup before winning both the 100 back (52.98) and 200 back (1:55.05) and earning a runner-up finish in the 100 fly (53.30). Brooks achieved NCAA “B” cuts in all three events.

Claire McDaniels, a junior transfer from Pitt, picked up her first win at Kentucky in the 1-meter diving competition. Her score of 315.38 ranks her sixth in program history. Texas A&M senior Alyssa Clairmont took the 3-meter win with a score of 328.88 while placing second in the 1-meter (310.20). 

On the men’s side, the Aggies cruised to a 177-111 win against the Wildcats behind big performances from senior Ethan Gogulski and freshman Baylor Nelson

Gogulski got Texas A&M started on the right foot by leading off the victorious 200 medley relay team (1:28.37) with a 22.46 split. Then he swept the 100 back (48.39) and 200 back (1:47.14) before capping his day with a win in the 200 free relay (20.04 split). 

Nelson, the top recruit in the high school class of 2022, notched individual victories in the 200 free (1:37.83) and 400 IM (3:51.13), where he was more than seven seconds clear of the field despite being nearly 10 seconds slower than his lifetime best. Two events after his 400 IM win, he returned to the pool to anchor the victorious 200 free relay team with a 20.20 split. 

Andres Puente and Connor Foote also earned multiple individual wins for the Aggies. Puente swept the 100 breast (54.85) and 200 breast (1:58.33) while Foote reached the wall first in the 50 free (20.74) and 100 fly (48.30).

“We have a lot of respect for Kentucky and their ability to make this meet interesting,” Texas A&M head coach Jay Holmes said. “There were some really good races today and the 200 medley relay got us started the right way. They weren’t as fast as we would have liked to be, but we knew we had to win that to get the meet moving quickly. Kentucky is strong in a number of events, and we didn’t have the people to beat them in a few races, but it came down to our overall depth. I thought our 400 IM was really good today, especially as the last individual event of the meet. Our guys have been training really well and to have [Baylor Nelson, Anze Fers Erzen, Andres Puente and Maximiliano Vega] go out like that, it was really fun to see, especially to close out a dual meet. 

Baylor Nelson is really good wherever we put him, he makes a huge difference for us,” Holmes added. “Takuto [Endo] winning the 3-meter was also big for us, and it was really nice to see him step up and do that. Ethan Gogulski continues to do some really good things for us, winning the 100 back and then 200 back. We challenged the breaststrokers today, Andres [Puente] and Vincent [Ribeiro], it was good to see them come around and they did what they needed to do to get 1-2 in both events for us.” 

One bright spot for the Kentucky men was their podium sweep of the 1650 free. Freshman Levi Sandidge (No. 14 recruit in the high school class of 2022) led the effort, clocking a 15:10.40 to collect his sixth individual win so far this season. The time also ranks him 10th in program history already just a couple months into his college career. Nick Caruso (15:21.75) and Adam Rosipal (15:31.11) touched the wall behind Sandidge to round out the 1-2-3 Wildcat finish. Sandidge also placed third in the 500 free (4:30.84) and fourth in the 400 IM (4:02.81).

Kentucky now has two weeks off before the Ohio State Invitational from Nov. 17-19 in Columbus, Ohio. The Aggies, on the other hand, have a quick turnaround, with another dual meet against TCU on Friday afternoon. The meet will be streamed on SEC Network+. 

“Overall, we are always pleased to get a win over an SEC team because it’s never easy,” Holmes said. “The SEC is such a good conference and has so many great teams in it. And we are right back at it here tomorrow with TCU. It will be a very similar meet, TCU has some good swimmers as well, but we need to come in tomorrow and keep our heads about us and take it one race at a time.”

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2 months ago

again, don’t doubt em

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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