The Texas vs. Texas A&M rivalry, even with the two separating conferences prior to the 2012-2013 season, has been easily one of the most truly-competitive rivalries in college swimming for the last decade.
On Friday, that rivalry was renewed, and with both teams relying heavily on youth, A&M topped Texas, in Austin, by a margin of 169-131. That marked a second-straight win for the Aggies in this dual-meet series.
Both teams entered the meet undefeated, though the Longhorns’ schedule had been much tougher up until this point (including a sweep of Cal and Stanford last weekend).
The Aggies started out hot early, winning the 200 medley relay 1:39.84-1:40.24. After the two teams’ anchors hit the water nearly identically, it was the Aggie senior Sammie Bosma who pulled away with a blazing 22.20 split on the freestyle leg to make the difference in the race.
Another senior went big for the A&M women in the second race of the day, where Sarah Henry out-battled Kaitlin Pawlowicz in the 1000 free 9:43.35-9:44.31. Those two were well out in front of the field, and traded leads several times in the race. Pawlowicz was in front setting the pace through900 yards, but in the last 100, it was the former National Teamer and 5th-year senior Henry who had the final burst, splitting 54.61 to Pawlowicz’s 55.88 to win.
After that, the meet leveled out a little with the teams trading wins back and forth in a series of very competitive races. Texas’ Madisyn Cox won the women’s 200 free in 1:47.61, ahead of A&M’s Sarah Gibson in 1:48.83. Gibson had an unusual pacing, with a 26.89 final 50 yards after going 28.0-27.9 on the two preceding 50’s.
Next up, in the women’s 100 backstroke, A&M freshmen Beryl Gastaldello (54.18) and Lisa Bratton (54.62) beat out Texas sophomore All-American Tasija Karosas (54.70) in another very good race. The two Aggies were both season-bests in that swim.
An event later, Texas star Gretchen Jaques won the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:00.72. That wasn’t a season-best for her, but she is the fastest in the nation this year. In a matchup of top 10 teams, almost every race had to be won by beating an All-American, and this was no difference as Jaques out-matched A&M’s Sycerika McMahon (1:01.43) and Franko Jonker (1:03.17) with a very well-paced swim.
As an indication of how well Jaques is swimming this year, that’s already her second time under 1:01 this season. Last year, she only achieved that at the Longhorns’ big rest meets: the Texas Invite, Big 12’s, and NCAA’s.
In that back-and-forth stretch of events, A&M continued to build their lead with more 2-3-4 finishes than the Longhorns, but in the 200 fly, Texas took a big chunk of that back.
They finished 1-2-3 in the race, led by a 1:58.88 from Kelsey Leneave that is right on her season-best. That gave the Longhorns the maximum 16-3 margin in the event and pulled them back into the meet.
A&M’s top finisher in that race was Emily Neubert in 4th with a 2:03.99. This is a hole in A&M’s lineup after graduating Cammile Adams and Caroline McElhany, both top-8 finishers at NCAA’s last year.
That would be as close as Texas came, though, as after the drubbing in the 200 fly, the Aggies went on a seven-eent run to break the meet open. Sammie Bosma won the 50 free in 22.82, beating out the young Texas duo of Rebecca Millard (23.29) and Brynne Wong (23.37).
Next up was the 1-meter diving event, where A&M sophomore Madison Hudkins just edged-out, by fewer than four points, Texas’ strong duo of Meghan Houston and Emma Ivory-Ganja.
Bosma won again coming out of the break with a 49.71 to again top Millard (50.14). Bosma took that race to task early, splitting 24.0 at the 50.
The National Teamer Bratton took a win in her specialty event, the 200 backstroke in 1:54.92. She just edged out Texas’ Tasija Karosas (1:54.97) in that race, and those times rank them 4th and 5th, respectively, in the country so far this season.
In a rare break from the every-race battle at this meet, Sycerika McMahon (2:12.25 – 200 breaststroke) and Sarah Henry (4:47.21 – 500 free) put up back-to-back wins for the Aggies by margins of over two seconds.
The Frenchwoman Gastaldello then got her second win of the meet with a 53.81 in the 100 fly: another very, very close swim as Texas’ Kelsey Leneave (53.88) closed hard to make this a photo finish.
Texas broke the run when the All-American Ivory-Ganja won the 3-meter event fairly easily by 25 points ahead of Hudkins. Her teammate Madisyn Cox followed that with a 1:59.64 in the 200 IM, making her the lone double-winner for the Longhorns on the night.
A&M closed the meet out winning the 400 free relay 3:20.40-3:21.65. Bosma (50.08 leadoff) and MIllard (49.70 on a rolling start) were again the leaders for their respective relays. There was also one really noteworthy swim from Texas’ 3rd-place “B” relay in that event: Makayla Markey, who anchored in a 50.55 split. She didn’t go a flat-start lifetime best in the 100 free as a freshman last season, but that split (two tenths better than she’s been on a flat start) is an excellent early sign that she’s caught on to Carol Capitani’s training.
Though the final score of 38-points difference wasn’t all that close, there were a lot of places where a tenth or two could’ve resulted in huge swings in this meet, so don’t be fooled by the final score. Both teams had season-best results, but whether by design or accident, the visiting A&M women had more – and that was the difference in the meet.
Both teams will now go back and train for two weeks before they host mid-season invites beginning November 20th. For A&M, that’s the Art Adamson Invitational, and for Texas, that’s the Texas Invite.