TEMPE, Arizona, October 27. THE Arizona State swimming program opened the 2012-13 season at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center with a high-scoring victory on the women's end and a dramatically close loss for the men's team.
The women, scoring 170-88 over Washington State and 179-80 over Grand Canyon University, celebrated a large margin of victory after switching to exhibition mode due to the score. The Devils claimed the first place in 12 of their 14 events, three of which belonged to Shannon Landgrebe, who won the top spot in all three of her freestyle swims. Junior Tristin Baxter notched two first-place finishes of her own in the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle.
Arizona State's women also swept the top three spots in two separate events. In the 200-yard freestyle, Landgrebe, Kallie Golden, and Jaclyn Chavez finished first, second and third respectively. Soon after, the Devils dominated the 200-yard butterfly, led by Baxter who was followed by Caroline Kuczynski and Lori Layne Kramer in second and third.
The men carried the lead over Grand Canyon through the final event, including two first-place finishes from Alexandru Coci and a one-two-three finish in the 1000-yard freestyle from Hayden Thomas, Alex Palumbo and Karl Boscacci. The `Lopes were able to rally in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, and snagged the top spot by less than one second and five points as Arizona State fell 128-133.
ASU hits the road to California for their next match-up, two Pac-12 face-offs against UCLA and USC on Nov. 9 and 10 respectively.
The Grand Canyon University men's and women's swimming teams made the short trip down the road to Tempe to face Arizona State and also Washington State on the women's side. When the meet concluded a good sized group of Antelope faithful that were in attendance were making a quite a noise as the final scores were announced and the GCU men claimed a significant victory over ASU.
The men's meet went back and forth throughout the morning and came down to the specialty for the Antelope men, the 400 freestyle relay. GCU entered the final event needing a first and third place showing to win the day, and that is precisely what they got, to win 133-128.
"It was very exciting and ASU led most of the relay," said head coach Steve Schaffer. "But Tanner Brotherton got the lead for us in the third leg and Buddy Turner got it done in the last leg. Buddy likes to win."
Click here to watch the exciting 400 freestyle relay event.
The Canyon men had many highlights on the day, including a new school record by John Feely in the 1000 free. Combined, the men had 16 individual and 4 relay NCAA B cuts. Ironically, only one D-I B cut was established in the meet for the men, that coming from GCU's Eetu Karvonen in the 100 breast. He also won the 200 breast. Everton Kida was also a double winner, taking the 100 and 200 back.
"We knew the meet would be close, but we knew we had a shot," said Schaffer. "We got off to a great start going 1,3 in the 200 medley relay, but ASU swam very well in the first half of the meet , especially their #2 and #3 swimmers in each event. They had a 10 point lead at the break, but we told the guys that we were still in the meet and that they would need to fight for every point because every place matters and they would have to rise up despite being tired from our training."
Coming out of the break was the 100 free and another event in which GCU's men normally excel.
"Michael Branning was having an off day and with Buddy having been out of the water nursing an injury for a week now, we knew we needed to win the event," added Schaffer. "Five yards from the finish it looked like ASU's Herbie Behm had it, but Tanner stunned everyone by charging back in the last lap to get his hand on the wall first, .06 ahead of Behm. It was a HUGE win for Tanner."
ASU fought back in the 100 fly and 200 IM despite excellent swims by Ivan Nechunaev in both events. That set the stage going into the last relay with GCU down by five points.
"A win in the relay and they would earn at least a tie, and if we go 1,3 we win. And that's what we did," said Schaffer. "This was important for our guys, not so much because of who we beat, but because of how we did it. It was a true team effort and our guys dug deep to get the points we needed. I am very proud of all of them and I think this will help us later in the season."
The women competed hard and showed themselves well facing ASU and Washington State.
"We knew the women would have a tough go in terms of points, but this was a good opportunity for us to race really fast competition and see how we handle it," added Schaffer. "For the most part, our women really embraced the challenge and we had a lot of season best times."
Mychala Lynch, Stacey Rudman, and Catherine Polito and Inha Kotsur swam superbly today earning all eight individual NCAA B cuts for the women.
Rudman (24.09) and Lynch (24.11) finished second and third, respectively, in the 50 free. Lynch also claimed second in the 100 fly with a 55.40. Kotsur was impressive in the long events, finishing second in the 1000 free (10:30.90) and third in the 500 free (5:08.03).
"Many of girls swam season best times and for some this was a learning experience in handling the pressure of swimming against tough competition," added Schaffer. "I am very proud of all of our women. They stood up to two really good PAC-12 teams and gave me their best efforts. That's all we ask of any of our athletes."
GCU is off until Nov.10, when they will host Soka University at the Brophy Complex Pool in Phoenix.
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Results: ASU v Grand Canyon, Washington State
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