Last night’s annual Lone Star Showdown meet between Texas and Texas A&M got pretty ugly in the scoring column. The Longhorn women took the win by score of 197-103, and you know that in this heated rivalry there was no voluntary exhibition-swims to be had to keep things close. The victory marked the 4th-straight dual meet victory for Texas in the series, and closed out the two teams’ history as competitors in the Big 12, with Texas A&M moving on to the SEC next season.
A&M did earn one small moral victory out of the meet, however, in that the most buzz-worthy performance of the meet came from sophomore breaststroker Breeja Larson in sweeping the two breaststroke events. First, she but up a blistering 59.73 in the 100 breaststroke. I did some searching through past season’s results, and in the last 5 years, the only other swimmers I can find who broke a minute in November are Rebecca Soni, Jillian Tyler, and Alia Atkinson. That’s pretty elite company. She topped Texas’ Laura Sogar, who finished 2nd in 1:01.14.
Larson also won the 200 breaststroke in 2:10.25. In that race, however, Sogar gave her a huge push at the finish. Charging down the final 50, Sogar closed in s 33.34 (which is faster than she was on the 2nd, or 3rd 50’s) as compared to Larson’s 35.12, and almost pulled off the win. Ultimately, though, Sogar was three-tenths short in 2:10.52.
At the end of the meet, Larson swam the best breaststroke time in the country in both events (she also has the 2nd-best in each from the Mizzou meet), and Sogar is 3rd. It’s hard to gauge if Larson was rested for this meet at all. Based on the swims of her teammates, and how badly she faded on the closing 50 of her 200, the likely answer is “not”.
Aside from Larons, Texas truly dominated the swimming events, especially with A&M missing two All-Americans in Sarah Henry and Lili Ibanez.
Their presence was especially missed in the freestyle races, where Texas went at least 1-2 in every distance, including the relay. The most impressive of those times had to have been Karlee Bispo’s swim in the 200 free. She posted a blistering 1:46.77, which gives her the fastest time in the country this year (by 6-tenths) and two of the best three marks. In the swim, like we saw with Sogar, Bispo split the back-half incredibly fast by going out in 52.7 and coming back in 53.9.
The Longhorn senior also took a win in the 100 free in 50.09. She’s going to be a real lynch-pin for the Longhorns this year, and I think she’s destined for a huge performance at NCAA’s, and I don’t think it would be out of the realm of reason to see her go for top-3’s in all of her individual events (probably 100 free, 200 free, and 200 IM).
The hits just kept coming for Texas. Leah Gingrich had her second-straight outstanding meet by taking the 500 free in 4:45.42 and the 1000 in 9:42.38. That 1000 time is the best in the country this year. She was chased by freshman Kaitlin Pawlowicz in 9:43.57, which ranks #2 in the country. A&M’s Cammile Adams took 3rd in 9:46.94.
Gingrich also took top honors in the 200 fly in 1:57.75 (3rd-best in the country) ahead of Adams, a National Teamer in the event, in 1:59.47.
Reaching a little deeper to look for good swims, Texas sophomore Ashley Brewer swam a 1:59.12 in the 200 backstroke for 3rd-place. That’s within a few tenths of her career-best. Texas A&M’s Erica Dittmer continued to work on her 200 breaststroke. She’s generally much better in the 100 breaststroke, but hasn’t swum that race yet this year (as compared to having done the 200 at both of the Aggies’ meets). She took a big step forward this time, with a 2:16.85.
Texas was extremely fast at this meet just about everywhere. Not only were they fast, but they put up phenomenal closes to swims that aren’t usually seen this early in the season. Gingrich closed her 500 faster than she closed it at NCAA’s last year. Same with Lily Moldenhauer in the 100 fly, and Sogar in the 200 breaststroke. I think that Texas probably wins this meet either way, but they intended to do more than just win it. Kim Brackins’ post-meet comments seemed to support that they wanted to make a big statement against their rivals, ESPECIALLY with the meet being televised on the Longhorn Network.
It’s not going to make Texas fans happy, but the conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but look at the fact that Texas hasn’t earned a (public) verbal yet and think that maybe they put a few days of light workouts in before this one. This is the last meet for the Longhorns before signing day, and big performances here wouldn’t hurt in closing some of the few big recruits that are still up in the air. If the Longhorns didn’t have the history of disappointment in March, it might not be as easy to make the connection, but the times were just a little too fast to feel comfortable about it.