By Phillip Whitten
200 meter butterfly
EAST MEADOW, New York, March 27. TEXAS junior Rainer Kendrick has been one of those guys with great potential who never quite fulfills it. Always competitive, he’s had a history of fading at the end of races.
Scratch that rap sheet. There’s a new Rainer Kendrick on the block and he doesn’t fade away.
Texas had won three events in a row, in three different strokes, while recording two world, two American and three NCAA records. Now it was Rainer’s turn to keep the ball rolling, but with him tucked away in lane one, few gave him much chance.
But Kendrick begged to disagree. “We talked a lot about winning these four events,” he said. “Aaron, Ian and Brendan had done their part, so I took it upon myself to make it four events in four different strokes.”
He got off to his characteristic good start, trailing only Stanford’s Matt McDonald at the 50, 25.61 to 25.84. At 100 meters he trailed McDonald by a scant one-hundredth, 54.93 to 54.94.
McDonald began to fall off the pace in the third 50 while Kendrick pushed into the lead. At the 150, Kendrick was 1:54.51, with Stanford’s Jayme Cramer (1:25.21) and McDonald (1:25.22) more than a stroke behind.
This was where the script called for a fade. But Kendrick was riding the Longhorn Victory Trail. He only gave up inches on the seventh lap.
Coming off the final turn, spectators could see pure agony in his face. And pure determination. Kendrick just gutted it out and got to the wall in 1:54.97 – a new NCAA record and three-hundredths of a second ahead of a fast-closing Cramer.