By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, March 28. THE 2014 Men’s NCAA Division I Championships are two-thirds complete, with another stunning day of racing unfolding in Austin. The race for the team title has become a little more clear after two nights of racing, while a couple of swimmers successfully defended their titles from last year. Below are some of the highlights from night two in Austin.
Texas and Cal pull away in the team standings
It’s been a while since a meet of this caliber featured such a tight race in the team standings, but that’s exactly what’s unfolded this week. “Every point counts” is thrown around a lot at big meets, but at this meet, it’s definitely true. Three teams – Florida, California and Texas – led the team standings twice each last night, and tonight the story was very similar. Cal led the team standings after the 200 medley relay, 400 IM and 100 back, while Texas led after the 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 3-meter diving and 800 free relay.
The two schools have separated from the pack a bit, as Texas leads with 318.5 points, Cal sits second with 312.5 and Florida is currently third with 279. Cal picked up two wins tonight, from their 200 medley relay and freshman Ryan Murphy in the 100 back, while for the second night in a row Texas not only placed a diver in finals, but won. Freshman Michael Hixon has now swept the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, which is a huge reason Texas leads the team standings.
Cal survives DQs, wins three of four relays
With a number of relays failing to advance out of prelims or score in finals because of disqualifications, Cal has taken full advantage, sweeping the two relays last night (200 free and 400 medley) and the 200 medley tonight. Ryan Murphy, Chuck Katis, Tony Cox and Tyler Messerschmidt avenged their school’s near miss of an American record last night with a convincing American record tonight, as the foursome wiped SwimMAC’s Nick Thoman, Eric Knight, Tim Phillips and Cullen Jones from the record books with a 1:22.83. Cal couldn’t quite keep the streak alive, taking sixth in the 800 free relay to finish the night. The Bears will have to put together some of their best swims ever to win the 400 free relay tomorrow night, as Auburn comes in with the top time of 2:47.49, four seconds ahead of Cal’s 2:51.16.
Doubles and Repeats
A couple of swimmers either repeated as individual NCAA champions or won their second individual event of this year’s meet tonight. Georgia sophomore Chase Kalisz may have had the most impressive performance of the night, as he knocked off Tyler Clary’s NCAA, American, US Open and Championship record in the 400 IM by almost a second and a half. Kalisz successfully defended the title he won as a freshman, and did so in record-breaking fashion, lowering Clary’s time from 3:35.98 to 3:34.50. Kalisz came in as the favorite and blew away the field, as Florida junior Dan Wallace finished more than three and a half seconds behind in second.
Last night, Florida senior Marcin Cieslak won his first-ever individual NCAA title in the 200 IM, one year after finishing second in all three of his individual events. Tonight, he won his second event in as many tries, overtaking four swimmers down the stretch to take the 100 fly in 44.87. Tomorrow, Cieslak will swim the 200 fly, where he’s seeded fifth. Based on the meet he’s having, Cieslak could walk away with three NCAA titles in hand, a fitting way to end his stellar career at Florida.
Joao De Lucca, a senior at Louisville, also defended his 200 free title from last year, finishing in 1:31.96 to top USC’s Cristian Quintero. De Lucca was gunning for the NCAA record in the event, a 1:31.20 set by Arizona’s Simon Burnett in 2006, but came up a little short. De Lucca and 200 breaststroker Carlos Almeida are the only NCAA swimming champions from Louisville.
As expected, Arizona’s Kevin Cordes had no trouble putting up a three-peat in the 100 breast, as he crushed the field and lowered his own NCAA, American and US Open record in both prelims and finals with a final time of 50.04. He’s already seven-tenths faster than his winning time last year (50.74), so there’s no telling what Cordes could be at this meet next year – 49 mid? It seems insane, but at this point anything seems possible from Cordes.