The Incarnate Word Cardinal continued their heavy early-season schedule on Friday as their men welcomed in the Texas A&M Aggies and the women’s team faced off against North Texas.
On the men’s side, the Aggies took the victory by a score of 135-98, with three events of exhibition, while the North Texas women won a barn-burner 127-116.
The best race of the meet on the women’s side came in the women’s 200 freestyle, where Incarnate Word’s Adrienne Morrow won in 1:54.30, beating out North Texas’ Isabelle Morris (1:54.39) and UIW’s Abby Meyer (1:54.67) for the victory.
While Morris held a noticeable lead heading into the last 50, her Incarnate Word opponents had more left for the last 50. For Morrow, that was enough to overcome for victory, while Meyer came up just short of Morris.
North Texas’ biggest impact came in a sweep of the relays, which were also very close. The team of Mona Groteguth, Krista Rossum, Sydney Buckley, and Michelle Balcaen combined in the 200 medley with a 1:46.72, which beat out Incarnate word by a tenth. Groteguth, who won the individual 100 backstroke going-away (57.76), gave the Mean Green a lead which they would not relinquish with a 27.25 leadoff.
Then in the meet-ending 200 free relay, North Texas won by a much bigger margin (even though Incarnate Word’s Lana Nguyen was the best sprinter at this meet). UNT’s winning time was a 1:36.82, while Incarnate Word’s B (which was their fastest relay, and which they oddly exhibitioned despite trailing) was the second-best relay in 1:39.10. All four North Texas swimmers were 24.0-24.3, and that consistency made the difference.
As for Nguyen, she remained perfect this season in the 50 free by pushing to 4-0 with a 23.78 win in the individual event. North Texas’ Lauren Tidwell took 2nd in 24.60.
In the 100 free, Nguyen won again with a 52.39, this time beating North Texas freshman Isabelle Morris (53.20).
UIW races again in two weeks against cross-town rivalsTrinity University, a Division III team. Nguyen will get her first real test in the 50 free the week after as UIW travels to race LSU.
North Texas will host a tri-meet next weekend welcoming in Houston, and last year’s 4th-place team from NCAA’s the Texas A&M Aggies.
The men’s meet was much more one-sided than was the women’s with the A&M men touching first in all but one event on the day.
For the A&M men, the biggest news is that they got big contributions from their freshman class in two areas where they’ve struggled in the past few years: the breaststrokes and the backstrokes. They’ve had good backstrokers, they’ve had good breaststrokers, but they’ve had trouble getting any depth in both groups at the same time.
This year, with an unusually-big freshman group for the Aggies at 12 (five of whom are internationals), it could be the start of an upward cycle for the A&M men.
In the men’s 100 breaststroke, it was Mexican Mauro Castillo who won, swimming a 56.91. Another freshman, Gonzalo Carazo took 2nd in 58.60. Since former Big 12 Champion Amini Fonua graduated after the 2011-2012 season, the A&M men have had only a single swim faster than 56.91 prior to the spring championship season.
A&M has another solid 1-2 punch in the backstroke, where at this meet freshman Brock Bonetti won the 100 yard race in 50.30, and junior Alexandros Theocharidis took 2nd in 50.98. That’s not as good of a start to the season as Theocharidis had last year, but the Aggies will look for a deeper overall backstroke group to yield better overall results at season’s end.
The one win (not by exhibition) for Incarnate Word came in the men’s 500 freestyle, where Connor Hennessy swam to a dominant 4:34.77 victory. A&M’s Mateo Muzek placed 2nd in 4:42.40, and Hennesseey was really never seriously challenged in this race.
The A&M men will take a mini trip to Florida next week, where they’ll race FAU on Thursday and the country’s top junior college program Indian River State College on Saturday. That will be the end of racing for the A&M men before heading into three weeks of training before the mid-season Art Adamson Invitational.
The Incarnate Word men will match their women with an upcoming home meet against Trinity.