PROVO, UT, October 31. WITH the score tied 140-140 and one event remaining, 22nd-ranked Brigham Young (1-0) edged Notre Dame (2-1) in the 400-yard freestyle relay to claim a 153-144 victory in men's swimming and diving action Saturday afternoon in the Richards Building.
Notre Dame provides a lengthy report about the exciting meet, noting that the Irish, who were seeking their first-ever win against a nationally-ranked foe, led by as many as 25 points early, but could not hold on for the victory.
The Cougars had to overcome the loss of a one-two finish in the 100 backstroke due to an entry snafu where their athletes swam in the wrong lanes. More on that after describing the deciding relay.
The winner of the final relay – even if the opposing team took both second and third – was assured of victory in the meet. The first half of the race was a virtual dead heat, as BYU senior Kenny Carpenter opened a lead of 0.47 seconds over Irish senior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) in the first 50, but the Notre Dame sprinter cut it down in the second half of his swim, touching the wall 0.18 seconds behind BYU. Freshman Jeffrey Su of Singapore again built a lead of nearly one-half second, but Notre Dame sophomore Tim Kegelman (Yorktown, Va./Tabb H.S.) was able to come on strong and eventually shave the margin down to 0.13 seconds. It was the third leg that proved decisive, as Cougar senior James Bekker turned in the only sub-46.00 leg by either team, with a 45.93 that built the lead to 0.91 seconds over Irish sophomore Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.) when BYU sophomore Chris Patience jumped into the pool. He nearly matched Bekker's time, swimming the final 100 in 46.06 to end with a time of 3:05.24. Irish sophomore Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.) closed strong, posting a team-best 46.18 in his leg, ending up 1.13 seconds behind with a time of 3:06.37. Notre Dame swam faster than that in just one dual meet in all of 2003-04.
That capped a BYU comeback that was necessary after some strong Irish swimming and a Cougar miscue put Notre Dame ahead 48-23 after four events. Notre Dame went 1-2-3 in two of the first three individual events. The Irish took the lead for the first time based on their outstanding distance freestyling. Freshman Jay Vanden Berg (Holland, Mich./Southfield Christian School), junior Patrick Davis (Clearwater, Fla./Jesuit H.S.), and sophomore Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) all finished more than 20 seconds quicker than any Cougar in the 1,650 freestyle. The rookie, who won both the 500 and 1,000 free on Friday at Utah, took first with a time of 16:15.63 that was more than 13 seconds quicker than Davis' runner-up performance (16:28.93) and more than 35 seconds ahead of the top BYU swimmer. Zeches claimed third in 16:30.66, and the Irish went ahead 20-16 in the team scoring.
Brown then captured the first of his two race victories by beating the field in the 200 free for the second day in a row, ending with a time of 1:42.13 that extended the Irish advantage to 32-23.
The Cougars appeared to have finished first and fourth in the 100 backstroke, but apparent winner John Malfatt and Mark Chay were both disqualified for swimming in the wrong lanes, handing the Irish the top three positions and a 25-point lead. Junior Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), the Irish recordholder in the event, ended up first in a time of 51.81, while freshman Andrew MacKay (Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cayman Prep & H.S.) was second in 52.21 and sophomore Alan Carter (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park H.S.) took third in 52.95.
BYU, thanks in large part to good diving and breaststroke swimming, made up the margin and took the lead, 105-99, after the 11th event, when it went 1-2-3 in the 200 breaststroke. But the Irish would strike back quickly, using the 500 freestyle to take control again. Notre Dame's best event – the Irish went 1-2-3-4 – featured Brown's second win of the meet. He was first in 4:42.34 – nine seconds quicker than his Friday time – while Vanden Berg came in right behind with a time of 4:43.80. Davis was next in 4:47.74, while senior captain Matt Bertke (Edgewood, Ky./Covington Catholic H.S.) claimed fourth in 4:54.86, which was more than a second better than BYU's best swimmer.
Carpenter outtouched Kegelman in the next race, the 100 butterfly, in what turned out to be one of the most obvious places where the Irish could have gained enough points for victory. Kegelman's time of 50.12 was 0.33 seconds behind, but Krakowski took third in 50.40 to allow the Irish to cling to a 122-120 advantage with three to go.
After struggling on the one-meter board, Notre Dame's divers came through in the three-meter competition. BYU's Scott Randall, an NCAA qualifier last season, finished first, but he was followed by rookie Sam Stoner (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.), sophomore Scott Coyle (Indianapolis, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern H.S.), and freshman Steven Crowe (Brockport, N.Y./Brockport H.S.), who were second, third, and fourth, respectively. Stoner, who almost upset Randall on the lower board – coming up just 6.07 points shy with a score of 268.50 – registered his second runner-up result by improving on his season best in the event by more than 30 points to end with a score of 263.40. Coyle had 255.67, while Crowe edged a BYU diver for fourth with a score of 226.65.
Following the diving, Notre Dame still held a 131-130 advantage, and Notre Dame's depth came through in the penultimate race, the 200 individual medley. Junior Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) was second with a time of 1:55.42, while senior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.) was third in 1:57.18, and MacKay, a 2004 Olympian in the event, claimed fourth place in 1:57.39. The Cougars were first and fifth, though, which was good enough to even the score at 140-140 heading into the final relay.
In the middle portion of the meet, Notre Dame won twice. Kegelman was a victor in the 200 butterfly in a time of 1:52.19 – three seconds quicker than his Friday time – while junior Patrick Heffernan (Norcross, Ga./Norcross H.S.) was third in 1:54.61.
Bauman got his second victory by winning the 200 back for the second time in as many days. He was more than 1.5 seconds ahead of the competition, with a time of 1:51.99, while junior Steve Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Va./Courtland H.S.) was third in 1:53.69.
Cavadini was the top Irish finisher in the 100 free, ending in 47.21, while he was third in the 50 with a time of 21.30, which was just behind Krakowski's runner-up mark of 21.28.
Brigham Young made up a lot of ground in the breaststroke events, outscoring the Irish 32-6. That made up for Notre Dame's advantage in the two longest races, which also produced a 32-6 point margin. Junior Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.) was the top Irish breaststroker, finishing fourth in the 100-yard event in 58.92 before taking the same spot in the longer race with a time of 2:08.30.
Notre Dame nearly claimed its first win in four all-time meetings with the Cougars, who have won five consecutive Mountain West Conference championships. Prior to Saturday, the closest meet between the schools had been a 62-point (178-116) BYU triumph in the Rolfs Aquatic Center a year ago. Despite the Cougars' eventual victory, that meet provided a first in Notre Dame history, as the Irish led early on, marking the first time they had been ahead at any point in a meet vs. a nationally-ranked foe (BYU was 19th).
The Irish performance was further enhanced by the fact that it came under high-altitude conditions and less than 24 hours after they had raced against Utah (123-118 victory).
Provo continued to be a difficult place to play for Notre Dame teams, as Irish varsity squads dropped to 0-3 at Brigham Young this fall. The Cougars topped the visiting football team 20-17 in both teams' season opener before prevailing in five games against the Irish volleyball squad last week.
Notre Dame will return to action next weekend, as it heads to Iowa for a meet on Friday, Nov. 5, at 5 p.m. (CST). The Hawkeyes beat both BYU and Notre Dame (as well as Louisville) in a quadrangular last November in the Rolfs Aquatic Center.