ROCHESTER, MI, February 6. THE 21st-ranked University of Notre Dame men's swimming and diving team won 10 of the first 12 events to open up a 127-point lead en route to a 177-107 victory over Oakland University (2-4) Saturday afternoon in the OU Aquatics Center, reported the Irish.
The Irish finished with a 10-2 record in dual meets in 2004-05 and extended their winning streak against teams not listed in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national rankings to 17.
Notre Dame dominated from the beginning, going up 60-14 after four events and eventually building a 177-50 advantage through 12 events before being only exhibition competitors for the rest of the meet. The Irish finished first and second in eight races and saw eight different student-athletes post individual victories.
The top individual performance for Notre Dame actually came in an exhibition swim, when freshman Eric Swenson (Scotch Plains, N.J./St. Joseph H.S.) finished the 100-yard breaststroke in 56.39, the eighth-fastest time ever by an Irish swimmer in the event. It was a collegiate best for him by just under a second, and it established him as the third-quickest Notre Dame competitor ever in the race. The time ranks him second among BIG EAST Conference swimmers in the race this season, as well as 45th in Division I.
Though Swenson actually touched the wall more than two seconds ahead of the field, junior Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.) was officially Notre Dame's top finisher, as he was just outtouched for first place, ending in a time of 58.80 that was .08 behind Zoltan Horvath of Oakland. Sophomore Tim Kegelman (Yorktown, Va./Tabb H.S.) finished third with a season-best time of 1:00.33 that was a BIG EAST "B" cut, meaning he is now qualified in eight different events for the conference meet (tied for the most by any Irish student-athlete).
Junior Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), the University record holder in both backstroke events, led Notre Dame by winning both backstroke races and also leading off the victorious 200-yard medley relay. He led a 1-2-3 Irish sweep in the 100 back, winning by nearly 1.5 seconds with a time of 50.85. Junior Steve Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland H.S.) was the runner-up in 52.11, while sophomore Alan Carter (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel H.S.) was third in 52.73. Junior Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrilville H.S.) ended up fifth with a season-best time of 54.35 that was good enough for a BIG EAST "B" cut. In the 200 back, Bauman won by almost 5.5 seconds with a time of 1:50.56. Carter was second in 1:56.05.
The first event of the meet saw Bauman, Randolph, Kegelman, and senior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) finish in a time of 1:33.05 that was almost two seconds clear of Oakland's top relay.
Junior Patrick O'Berry (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton H.S.) led a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Irish in the 200 freestyle, beating the field by more than three seconds. He turned in a career-best mark of 1:40.58 that established him as the fifth-fastest Notre Dame student-athlete of all-time in the race. The mark was the third-fastest for the Irish this season, and it ranks him seventh among BIG EAST performers. Right behind him was junior Chris Barnes (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier H.S.), who also had a career-best time. His mark of 1:43.65 – which came in his season debut in the event – was just .04 seconds away from a conference A cut that would have earned him his first invitation to the BIG EAST Championships. Barnes also had a season best (22.23) in the 50 free leading off the 200 free relay. Freshman Jay Vanden Berg (Holland, Mich./Southfield Christian School) took third with a time of 1:43.65, while another rookie, Rob Seery (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City H.S.), was fourth in 1:47.18.
Junior Bryan Guarnier (Queensbury, N.Y./Glen Falls H.S.) also moved up in the Irish record books, winning the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:51.10 that was a career best by 1.65 seconds. It was the second-best time for a Notre Dame swimmer this season, and it moved Guarnier up two spots to sixth on the list of top all-time Irish performers. The mark has him fourth among BIG EAST swimmers this season and 85th in the nation. The race saw the Irish take the top three spots, with senior captain Matt Bertke (Edgewood, Ky./Covington Catholic H.S.) the runner-up in 1:52.55. O'Berry finished third with a season-best time of 1:53.69. Guarnier also had the fastest time in the field of the 200 IM, notching a 1:54.92, though the Irish were exhibitioning.
After anchoring the first-place medley relay, Krakowski later led a 1-2-3 Irish finish in the 50 free, taking first in 21.12. Sophomore Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.) was second with a time of 21.51, while senior Drew Pittman (Williamsburg, Va./Lafayette H.S.) ended up third in 21.66.
Pittman notched a victory of his own in the 100 freestyle with a season-best time of 47.12. Barnes came in right behind him with a season best of his own, 47.36. That gave him a second BIG EAST "B" cut in the meet after having none prior to Saturday.
Senior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.) notched a victory in the first individual event of the meet with a time of 4:02.86 in the 400 individual medley. Freshman Graham Parker (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill H.S. East) was second in 4:06.70, while another rookie, Dean Fernandez (San Diego, Calif./Carlsbad H.S.) notched a BIG EAST "B" cut (4:11.62) in a fourth-place finish in his first time swimming the 400 IM as a collegian. Junior Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) actually turned in the top time, touching the wall in 4:01.67 as an exhibition swimmer.
Freshman Sam Stoner (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) contributed a victory in one-meter diving with a score of 284.48, while his classmate, Steven Crowe (Brockport, N.Y./Brockport H.S.), was right behind in 275.33. Stoner had the second-highest score in the three-meter event (278.25), but all five Notre Dame divers were exhibition competitors.
The Irish went 1-2-3 in the 500 free, while a total of seven Notre Dame student-athletes went faster than Oakland's top swimmer. Vanden Berg led the way, winning the race by more than 10 seconds with a time of 4:33.21. Sophomore Brian Freeman (Sanger, Calif./Immanuel H.S.) was second with a season-best time of 4:43.80, while his classmate, Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.), was right behind in 4:44.74.
Oakland got another win from Horvath in the 200 breaststroke, but Notre Dame filled the next four spots. Swenson was the runner-up with a season-best time of 2:07.04, while Parker took third in 2:08.38. Sophomore Brendan Whalen (Longwood, Fla./Trinity Preparatory School) was fourth in a season-best time of 2:13.23, while Fernandez was fifth in 2:17.05.
All four Notre Dame swimmers beat the Grizzlies in the 100 fly, but the Irish were exhibition performers. Krakowski led the way with a time of 50.44. Cavadini went 50.91, while sophomore Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.) finished in 51.78 to register his team-best seventh BIG EAST "A" cut.
In the meet's final race, the 200 free relay, Notre Dame's team of Randolph, Krakowski, Kegelman, and Cavadini touched the wall almost three seconds quicker than Oakland's team, with a time of 1:24.96.
Notre Dame's victory broke the tendency of home domination in the series since it was rekindled in 1999-2000. Prior to Saturday, the home school had won five consecutive meetings.
It was the second week in a row that saw the Irish win against a team appearing in the CollegeSwimming.com Division I Mid-Major national rankings. Last Saturday, Notre Dame downed #13 St. Bonaventure 150-87, while the Golden Grizzlies are ranked 21st.
The Irish lost just two dual meets in a season for the first time since 2000-01, when they were 7-2. The four Notre Dame seniors – Bertke, Krakowski, Moisan, and Pittman – finished with a career record of 35-20 (.636) in dual meets, bookended by an 11-3 record in 2001-02 and the 10-2 mark this season.
Notre Dame will next travel to the Nassau County Aquatics Center in East Meadow, N.Y., for the 2005 BIG EAST Championships, slated for Feb. 16-19.
The Irish faced just one league team in dual-meet action, upsetting eight-time defending conference champ and #17 Pittsburgh 155-145 on Nov. 12 in the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Notre Dame also saw West Virginia (7th in '04) at the Notre Dame Invitational, with the Irish finishing first (2,709.5 pts.) and the Mountaineers coming in second (1,116). In 2004, Notre Dame posted its highest-ever point total and finished second in the BIG EAST meet, 162 points behind the Panthers.
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