AUSTIN, Texas, December 1. SINCE the collegiate season kicked into high gear a little more than a month ago, there has been considerable hype concerning the University of Arizona’s potential at the Texas Invitational. After all, the Wildcats were blazing at last year’s edition of the meet.
Well, it seems that not much has changed. As this year’s Texas Invite got rolling on Thursday night, Arizona delivered some blazing times, highlighted by the performances of Simon Burnett. The British Olympian notched a victory in the 50-yard freestyle and helped a pair of relays touch the wall in first place.
Possessing versatility from the 50 free to the 200 distance, Burnett smacked the field in the 50 free with a stellar time of 19.28. That effort provided a comfortable triumph over teammate Lyndon Ferns, a South African Olympian. Ferns clocked in at 19.65, just ahead of the 19.68 of Ian Crocker, the former University of Texas standout who now represents Longhorn Aquatics.
Burnett also carried the Wildcats to wins in the 200 free relay and 400 medley relay. Thanks to Burnett’s leadoff of 19.49, Arizona won the sprint-free relay in 1:18.56. Meanwhile, he handled the leadoff backstroke leg of the medley and helped Arizona to a winning time of 3:08.69. Southern California placed second in 3:10.84.
Like the 50 free, the Wildcats posted a one-two finish in the 200 individual medley behind the tandem of Adam Ritter and Dave Rollins. En route to his winning performance, Ritter uncorked a dazzling mark of 1:45.03, a little more than two seconds faster than the 1:47.05 of Rollins.
The Arizona men, however, has company in the highlight-reel department, due to the presence of their female counterparts. The Wildcat women were led by Whitney Myers, who doubled in the 100 fly and 200 I.M. After cranking out a 52.79 showing in the fly, Myers blasted a 1:57.01 effort in the individual medley. That time gave her a three-plus second decision over Wisconsin’s Andrea Wiesner (2:00.06).
Arizona’s Jenna Gresdal shared first place in the 50 free with Hawaii’s Mela Schlanger. Both swimmers touched in 22.37, ahead of the 22.51 of Arizona’s Lacey Nymeyer. Arizona also won the 200 free relay (1:29.86) and the 400 medley relay (3:36.66) with Gresdal and Nymeyer contributing to both units.
The world champion in the 100-meter butterfly, Crocker won the 100-yard distance of his pet event with a swim of 46.14. Meanwhile, Southern California’s Ous Mellouli out-dueled Michigan’s Peter Vanderkaay in a sterling 500 freestyle. The Tunisian Olympian and medalist at last summer’s World Champs registered a time of 4:12.18 to the 4:12.35 of Vanderkaay. USC’s Kalyn Keller won the women’s version of the 500 free, going 4:43.97.