The Arizona Wildcats opened their 2014-2015 season at home, splitting with the Wisconsin Badgers. The Wildcat men, swimming without star breaststroker Kevin Cordes or defending NCAA champ Brad Tandy, dropped the dual to Wisconsin 170-128, while the Arizona women were suffocating, winning 13 of 16 events to top the Badgers 196-104.
It appears Cordes and Tandy are easing back into the season after both had busy summers with some major international competitions. We’re told they’ll likely be back in action by Arizona’s next meet, which is a rematch of last year’s loss to Utah, now expanded to a triangular and hosted by UNLV.
After that Utah loss, this is the second season that Arizona has suffered an early-season upset on the men’s side, though this one is far less of a surprise, considering Cordes and Tandy were AWOL.
The Lady Wildcats were dominating on the day, picking up 13 wins out of 16 events, highlighted by doubles from Bonnie Brandon, Emma Schoettmer, Elizabeth Pepper, Samantha Pickens and Tjasa Oder.
Pepper might have had the two biggest wins. The senior swept the butterfly events, winning one close one and one blowout. The latter was the 200 fly, where Pepper went 1:59.13 to crush a field that included Dana Grindall, who won this event for Wisconsin last night against Arizona State. Pepper returned to beat Wisconsin’s star Ivy Martin in the 100 fly, 55.13 to 55.20. Arizona’s Katja Hajdinjak was third in 55.90.
Brandon, Arizona’s top threat this season, did her part, winning both backstrokes. She went 55.77 in the 100 and 1:58.86 in the 200. One of the team’s top freshmen, Cameron McHugh, was second in both races, going 56.35 in the 10 and 2:01.55 in the longer distance.
Completing the stroke sweep, Emma Schoettmer won the 100 and 200 breaststrokes with ease. She was 1:01.91 to lead a 1-2 in the 100 with Sara Borendame second in 1:02.21. Then in the 200, Schoettmer went 2:13.47 with Borendame just a few tenths behind at 2:13.72.
The other double winner in swimming was the sophomore Oder, who won the longest races. She went 10:03.71 in the 1000 free to put Zona ahead early, then came up with the dagger swim in the 500, going 4:54.90. She was also runner-up in the 400 IM.
That IM race went to Wisconsin’s Aja Van Hout, who was 4:23.04 – just three tenths ahead of Oder. Wisconsin only had two other wins on the day: sophomore Chase Kinney went 23.11 to win the 50 free while Martin was 49.24 to win the 100 free. That time for Martin is the second-fastest 100 free in the nation thus far.
Arizona also swept diving, with former NCAA champ Samantha Pickens scoring 336.90 on 1-meter and 272.93 on 3-meter.
Both relays were exciting affairs to open and close the meet. In the medley, the Wildcats went 1:41.63 to just eke out a win over Wisconsin’s 1:41.79. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead on Bonnie Brandon‘s 26.06 backstroke. Wisconsin made a late charge on Ivy Martin‘s 21.83, but it wasn’t quite enough to pass up Arizona.
In the 400 free relay, Arizona once again won in a close race, going 3:22.24 to Wisconsin’s 3:22.64. Martin led off in 49.87 (Meet Mobile lists the names differently, but it’s likely it was Martin that hit that leadoff), but Arizona roared back on Taylor Schick‘s 49.56 split to ultimately earn the win.
The final score was 196-104 in favor of Zona.
Without Kevin Cordes or Brad Tandy to hold down their respective events, the Wildcats fell to Wisconsin’s well-rounded attack 170-128 on the men’s side.
Like they did against Arizona State Friday night, Wisconsin put together some big points through the freestyles to build their lead.
Matthew Hutchins won a pair of distance events, going 9:17.11 to win the 1000 and adding a 4:25.49 to take the 500 free. That appears to be the fastest 500 free in the nation by 6 seconds, though several other meets happening around the country today could change that.
Brett Pinfold won the next two races down in distance, going 1:38.65 to knock off teammate Cannon Clifton (1:39.33) in the 200, and also added the 100 free (44.86) over Clifton’s 45.26.
The only freestyle race Wisconsin dropped was the 50, where Zona’s Brian Stevens went 20.62 and was the only guy under 21 seconds.
The other double winner for Wisconsin was Drew teDuits, who jumped back into his native backstrokes after trying some off events against Arizona State. TeDuits won both, going 49.85 in the 100 and 1:48.06 in the 200. The longer distance saw him beat Arizona’s top IMer, Michael Meyer, for the title.
Other event winners for Wisconsin included Nick Caldwell (200 fly, 1:47.72), Nick Schafer (200 breast, 1:59.60) and Josh Anderson (400 IM, 4:00.44).
Arizona’s Rafael Quintero swept the diving boards to keep Arizona afloat, scoring 300.83 on 1-meter and 373.05 on 3-meter. But the ‘Cats could only get a couple more swimming wins and couldn’t keep pace with Wisconsin down the stretch.
Andrew Sovero topped Schafer to win the 100 breast, 54.79 to 55.28. The only other Zona winner was Andrew Porter in the 100 fly at 48.89.
The Badgers return home and have two weeks until their next meet, against conference rivals Minnesota in Minneapolis. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have a longer break, without a meet until that triangular in Las Vegas against UNLV and Utah on November 1st.