NCAA Div. I: Notre Dame Falls to Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich., November 8. THE Michigan State men's swimming and diving team opened the season with a victory in the first home duel meet of the season at the IM West building Friday (Nov. 7) evening. The Spartans took first place in 9 out of the 13 events, giving them a total winning score of 127.5-113.5 over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The meet marked the first dual meet as interim head coach for Matt Gianiodis and assistant coach Richard Mull. Mull took over for Gianiodis during the meet as Gianiodis went on the road with the women's team to compete in Ann Arbor.

In the first event, the 400-medley relay team of Rudolph Wagenaar, Ian Clutten, Nick Harley, and Patrick Saucedo started the meet off on the right stroke when they seized first with a time of 3:26.10. Lucas Lehner, Rigali, Brian Stelle, and David Lessard also helped contribute points with a third place time of 3:29.26.

As the score vacillated back and forth between teams, it was the diving events that secured the win for the Spartans.

"The essence of the meet came down to .006 of a second, that's how close the meet was," stated Mull. "Fortunately, we had the diving and they really came through."

The Spartan men swept the three-meter competition with Justin Laskowski claiming first with a score of 322.80. Patrick Sheahan-Stahl posted a score of 303.22 which was good enough to take second, and Matt Ackerley scored 299.02 to finish third. On the one-meter boards, Laskowski finished with top honors again (327.60), with Sheahan-Stahl following behind (281.70) and Ackerley taking fourth place with a score of 244.05.

State had another one-two punch when Ian Clutten and Michael Rigali swept the 200 breaststroke with 2:03.86 and 2:06.96, respectively. Clutten also contributed in the 200 individual medley with a second place time of 1:54.98.

Freshman standouts Jason Vadney and Erik Williams made their home debut when Vadney captured the win in the 500 free (4:40.04) and the 200 free (1:41.54), and Williams took the top spot in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:53.94.

Sophomore Johan Sunryd claimed another win for the Spartans in the 200 backstroke, posting a time of 1:51.21 while Wagenaar secured third place with a 1:53.81. Another sophomore, David Habel, took second in the 1000 free – touching out in 9:38.31. Junior Peter Politi did his part in the 100 free(47.69) by claiming the second place spot.

"This meet was just a great night to be here," said Mull. "That's one home meet down and two to go."

Nowhere was the Irish depth more apparent than in the 50-yard freestyle. Notre Dame took the top three places, with freshman Tim Kegelman (Yorktown, Va./Tabb H.S.) winning in his first time swimming the event on the collegiate level, with a time of 21.77. Sophomore Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) was second, while freshman Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.) was third.

Notre Dame took three of the top four spots in five other events, highlighted by the 400 freestyle relay, which featured a 1-2 Irish finish. The quartet of Cavadini, freshman Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.), junior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), and senior co-captain Matt Obringer (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School) finished first in 3:08.16, the top Irish time of the season. Junior Drew Pittman (Williamsburg, Va./Lafayette H.S.), Kegelman, Randolph, and freshman Nick Fanslau (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn H.S.) were just behind, finishing with a time of 3:08.41. The quickest Michigan State team was nearly six seconds behind, though one Spartan squad was disqualified.

The Irish finished first, third, and fourth in both the 100 and 1,000 freestyle. In the former, Krakowski led the way in 47.49, while Obringer and Cavadini (in a fourth-place tie) followed. Sophomore Patrick Davis (Clearwater, Fla./Jesuit H.S.) won the 1,000 by nearly five seconds, in 9:33.96, with freshman Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) third and classmate Justin Barber (Carson City, Nev./Carson H.S.) fourth, swimming the race for the first time as a collegian.

Michigan State won the 200 individual medley and 200 butterfly, but Notre Dame saw its swimmers take the next three spots in both races. In the latter, Brown was second in 1:54.65, with sophomore Patrick Heffernan (Norcross, Ga./Norcross H.S.) and senior J.R. Teddy (Spring, Texas/Klein H.S.) right behind him. The 200 IM was an important race in determining the team victor, as Michigan State's Ian Clutten touched out Irish junior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.) for first place by .06 seconds. Moisan finished in 1:55.04, more than two seconds better than his previous best this fall and good enough to qualify him for the BIG EAST Championships in that event. Sophomore Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) was third and Fanslau was fourth.

Michigan State also outtouched the Irish for first in the 200 freestyle, another key factor in the final score. Spartan Jason Vadney reached the wall .02 seconds ahead of Brown, who posted a time of 1:41.56, which already places him as the ninth-quickest Irish swimmer ever in the event. It was the second BIG EAST "A" standard in that race for Brown, who also already has "A" qualifying times in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle. Obringer was third in the race.

Notre Dame got three other runner-up finishes. Freshman Brian Freeman (Sanger, Calif./Immanuel H.S.) was second in the 200 backstroke, in 1:52.86, his second BIG EAST "A" qualifying time in that race this fall. Davis gained four points for the Irish in the 500 freestyle, finishing in 4:42.00, and Notre Dame led off the meet with a runner-up result in the 400 medley relay. That crew consisted of sophomore Steve Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland H.S.), Randolph, Kegelman, and Krakowski, finishing in 3:28.70.

The 200 breaststroke was the only swimming event in which Michigan State took the top two positions. Notre Dame was led by sophomore Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.), who was third.

Freshman Scott Coyle (Indianapolis, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern H.S.), the lone Irish diver, added five points, highlighted by a third-place finish off the one-meter board. His score of 276.67 was a season high, and it qualified him for the BIG EAST Championships in the event. He was fourth in the three-meter competition.

This is just the third time in the 46-year history of the program that the Irish have opened with three consecutive dual-meet defeats (also 1976-77 and 1999-2000). Notre Dame has never started 0-4, though the first-ever varsity team tied its first meet before losing four straight prior to securing a victory in 1958-59.

The Irish schedule, which began with road meets against North Carolina (now ranked 24th) and North Carolina State, does not get any easier with Friday's three opponents. In particular, Coyle will face stiff competition in the diving well, as Brigham Young has a pair of divers who qualified for the NCAA Championships a year ago and Iowa also boasts one. The Cougars, who finished 22nd in last year's NCAAs, have won both previous meetings with the Irish, while the Hawkeyes and Louisville will swim against Notre Dame for the first time.

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