COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Feb. 6. THE 16th-ranked Texas A&M men's swimming & diving team turned a potentially tight meet with a strong SMU squad into a rout thanks to the depth and strength of its underclassmen at the Student Rec Center Natatorium on Thursday evening.
The Aggies (4-2) toppled the Mustangs, 141.5-96.5, exactly one meet after SMU had beaten 15th-ranked Arizona. A&M won 11 of 13 events overall, losing one event in the pool and one event on the diving boards.
Freshman Christian Picard turned in the second-best one-meter diving performance in Texas A&M history with a score of 342 points. Only Mark Naftanel's mark of 357.30 in 1999 stands above Picard's performance on Thursday. His mark ranks him No. 1 in the Big 12 this season as well. Not to be outdone, junior All-American Adam Morgan set a personal-best in placing second on the one-meter with a score of 314.85, which ties him for fifth all-time with former teammate Jesse Even.
A&M was equally strong in the pool, winning every event but the 50 freestyle. Jonathan Newton of SMU swam the fifth-fastest time in the nation to top A&M All-American Matt Rose's season-best time of 20.10. Rose exacted revenge three races later in the 100 free by beating Newton 44.38 to 44.40.
The Aggies took control from the start as a 400 medley relay team made up entirely of underclassmen won the crucial first relay over SMU by more than three seconds. Sophomores Calvin Zielsdorf and Alfredo Jacobo teamed with freshmen Devin Saez and Andrew Sullivant to clock a season-best time of 3:19.03.
Jacobo, Saez and Zielsdorf all went on to capture an individual event in addition to their relay win. Jacobo won the final individual race of the day, the 200 breaststroke, in a near-season-best time of 2:01.81. Saez captured the 200 fly over junior teammate Scott Hansen, 1:50.39 to 1:50.53. Zielsdorf won the 200 individual medley, 1:51.70 to 1:52.33, over fellow frosh Alex Dawson.
Patrick Dideum was the lone senior to take top honors on Senior Day. Dideum swam a season-best time of 9:24.88 for the 1000 freestyle to edge out freshman teammate Mark Solomon (9:27.94). Junior Scott Mueller grabbed a win in the 500 freestyle with a team-best time of 4:29.99, less than one second ahead of Dideum.
Freshman Scott Newmann won the 200 freestyle with a personal best, and NCAA consideration time, of 1:39.22. Sophomore Dan Blanchard set a lifetime best of 1:49.17 in the 200 back to equal the 10th best time in A&M history set by Ernesto Vela in 1989.
Rose teamed with Blanchard, Newmann and Sullivant to end the meet with a win in the 400 freestyle relay. The three underclassmen and the All-American dropped their NCAA consideration time to 2:59.92 which currently ranks them 12th in the nation.
The Aggies will be back in action at the 2003 Phillips 66 Big 12 Swimming & Diving Championships to be held at Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin on Feb. 19-22.