This upcoming weekend, the Texas Longhorns will travel to Tucson, Arizona to face off against the Arizona Wildcats at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in a 2-day dual meet. The meet will pit title contenders against each other on both the men’s and the women’s side.
The Men-In the men’s meet, Arizona will come in ranked no. 3, and Texas will come in as the overwhelming no. 1 team in the country. After last weekends impressive performance, which had the Wildcat men top no. 2 Stanford and no. 4 California, Arizona has distanced themselves from the rest of the Pac-10, and are realistically the no. 2 team in the country right now. The Texas men took care of business in resounding fashion in their last two meets over no. 10 Georgia and no. 5 Auburn.
The Women-The women’s meet, despite Texas’ no. 2 ranking, and Arizona’s no. 3 ranking, doesn’t have as much luster as it did a week ago. Arizona went 0-2 against no. 4 Stanford and no. 5 California over the weekend. The Longhorns haven’t had a dual meet in 2 weeks, but their last two wins over No. 8 Auburn and No. 1 Georgia leaves them as the likely favorite headed into championship season.
Races to Watch-
Jimmy Feigen v. Jordan Smith. Feigen and Smith are two of the top freestyle sprinters in the country, and both have top 4 times in the both the 50 and 100 freestyles.
The Men’s 200 freestyle. This race will feature 4 Olympians: Jean Basson andNimrod Shapira Bar-Or for Arizona, and Ricky Berens and Dave Walters for Texas. Perhaps the most star-studded race of the meet, this will be a great chance to see experienced international competitors step up in a huge dual meet. Berens and Basson have the top 2 times in the country thus far.
The Men’s 200 breaststroke. Arizona has a decided advantage in the breaststroke events., over the Longhorns. The Wildcats have the ability to throw out the top 4 200 breaststrokers in the nation for 2009-2010 thus far, and it’s up to Scott Spann and Eric Friedland from Texas to see if they can crash the party. This could be a key event as far as team scoring goes. If Arizona manages to stone Texas out of any of the top 4 spots, they have a chance at the upset.
Alyssa Anderson v. Kathleen Hersey. Anderson and Hersey were both members of Team USA at the 2009 World Championships, and were both All-Americans in the 200 fly in 2009. While the two women are good friends out of the pool, they always have fierce competition in the water.
Annie Chandler v. Alexi Spann. These 2 girls grew up competing against each other in Central Texas, and swam for two of the best highschool programs in the country: Chandler for San Antonio-Churchill and Spann for Austin-Bowie. The best race between the two will be the 200 breast, where both have season bests of 2:12. Also look for Texas frosh Lauren Sogar to make noise in the breaststroke events.
Women’s 400 free relay. The two relays both have best times of 3:17 this season, but use different styles to get there. While Texas has the big gun in Karlee Bispo, Arizona has more consistency across al 4 legs. Texas usually swims Bispo early, either leadoff or the second leg, so look for Texas to jump out to the lead, but expect Arizona to make a big push in the third leg and for Monica Drake to hold off Kathleen Hersey at the end.
The Picks-For the Men, I’m picking Arizona in a monstrous upset. Texas has the bigger names, but Arizona has no obvious holes in their lineup. Plus, there are too many events (breaststroke, I.M.’s) where Arizona has the ability to just shut down Texas. Texas hasn’t had a meet since emerging from holiady trainin, however, so we’ll have to see what kind of shape they are in.
For the Women, I think Texas wins relatively handily. Arizona will keep it close through the first half of the meet, but Texas will overpower and pull away as they get into the butterfly, backstroke, and I.M. events.