SALT LAKE CITY, UT, October 30. FRESHMAN distance freestyler Jay Vanden Berg (Holland, Mich./Southfield Christian School) posted a pair of victories to help the University of Notre Dame men's swimming and diving team (2-0) to a 123-118 road victory against the University of Utah (0-1) Friday in the Ute Natatorium.
According to reports from the Irish, Notre Dame started strong, building a 47-6 advantage after three events and went on to deal Utah its first home defeat in dual-meet action since Jan. 31, 2003.
"This was a great win for us, especially coming in such high altitude and on the road" said Irish head coach Tim Welsh. "We swam well, but what contributed to this win was the intensity and focus that was present all the way through the meet. This was an excited team that raced today. Our victory was a testament to being ready and focused and then performing."
Notre Dame took advantage of Utah miscues in the opening event in taking a lead that proved to be insurmountable. The Utes, who were 7-1 last season to finish second in the Mountain West Conference, saw both of their relay teams disqualified in the meet's first event, the 400-yard medley relay. Notre Dame's quartet of juniors Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) and Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.), sophomore Tim Kegelman (Yorktown, Va./Tabb H.S.), and senior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) finished in time of 3:27.03 that appeared to be good for second place before Utah's A relay was DQ'd. The team of sophomore Alan Carter (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park H.S.), senior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.), and juniors Steve Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland H.S.), and Chris Barnes (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier H.S.) took second in 3:35.32 to give the Irish a 15-0 advantage.
Notre Dame then posted back-to-back 1-2-3 finishes to consolidate its lead. In his first time swimming the race as a collegian, Vanden Berg turned in a time of 9:37.44 that immediately established him as the 12th-fastest Irish competitor ever in the 1,000-yard freestyle. He led the Notre Dame sweep, which was completed by runner-up junior Patrick Davis (Clearwater, Fla./Jesuit H.S.) and third-place finisher sophomore Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.), who finished in 9:45.64 and 9:53.92, respectively. The nearest Ute ended in 9:59.30, nearly six seconds behind Zeches and more than 21 slower than Vanden Berg.
Sophomore Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.) led the Irish in the next race, the 200 freestyle, winning in a time of 1:42.46. Senior captain Matt Bertke (Edgewood, Ky./Covington Catholic H.S.) was right behind in 1:44.46, and sophomore Brian Freeman (Sanger, Calif./Imanuel H.S.) took third with a mark of 1:45.75.
The Utes would mount a comeback, and the meet was still undecided heading into the final race, when Notre Dame – which needed two points for victory – had its top relay disqualified. The Irish got a second-place finish from Bertke, Barnes, Bauman, and Carter in 1:28.04 to ice the triumph.
Vanden Berg came back later in the meet to win the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:41.41. Davis ended up third in 4:46.53.
Notre Dame got another victory from Bauman, who took first in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:51.77. Freshman Andrew MacKay (Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cayman Prep and H.S.) ended up third in the race in a time of 1:55.69.
When the Irish needed good swims in the penultimate race, they got them. In the 200 breaststroke, Grenda took second place (2:08.71), while Lutkus was third (2:09.83), and Moisan finished fourth (2:10.98) to all but guarantee Notre Dame the triumph.
The Irish also had a number of runner-up finishes. Krakowski registered one in the 50 free with a time of 21.65, while junior Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) did the same in the 400 IM, with Moisan coming in third in 4:08.12. Kegelman was second in the 200 butterfly in 1:55.17, while sophomore Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.) claimed the runner-up position in the 100 free in 47.38.
In diving, sophomore Scott Coyle (Indianapolis, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern H.S.) led the Irish off the three-meter board with a score of 272.02 that was good for third place. Freshman Steven Crowe (Brockport, N.Y./Brockport H.S.) finished third in the one-meter competition with 243.22 points.
An even greater challenge is on the horizon for Notre Dame, which will have only hours to rest before heading to Provo, Utah, to challenge #22 Brigham Young on Saturday at Noon (MDT).