Texas Men, Women Sweep Big 12 Champs

AUSTIN, TX., February 25. TEXAS won the inaugural combined women's and men's Big 12 swimming and diving championship last Saturday at the Longhorns' Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center.

The pool is also the site of next month's NCAA men's Divisoion 1 Championships, where the 'Horns are treble-defending champions.

The fifth-ranked Texas men's team posted 1030 points en route to capturing its 24th-consecutive conference title. Texas A&M followed in second in the men's competition with 908 and Missouri was third at 760.

The fourth-ranked Longhorn women's squad was also dominant as it won its fifth-consecutive league title by posting 1031 points. Texas A&M, with 694 points, was runner-up in the six-team field followed by Missouri (510), Kansas (471.50), Iowa State (407) and Nebraska (316.50).

Texas was well represented when the postseason honors were announced at the conclusion of the meet. The women's team featured the Swimmer of the Meet in sophomore Sarah Wanezek (Brookfield, WO.); the Diver of the Meet in sophomore Nicole Pohorenec (Winter Springs, FL.) and Newcomer of the Meet in freshman Elizabeth Wycliffe (Kingston, Ontario, CAN).

On the men's side, freshman Aaron Peirsol (Irvine, CA) was named the Newcomer of the Meet and sophomore Jonathan Linette was the Diver of the Meet. Head diving coach Matt Scoggin of Texas was named the women's Diving Coach of the Meet.

Other honorees included Texas A&M's Matt Rose as the men's Swimmer of the Meet, Kansas' Clark Campbell as the women's Coach of the Meet and Mel Nash as the men's swimming Coach of the Meet.

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Junior Rose, like Wycliffe, a native of Ontario, had the meet of his career, winning two of three races and chasing Peirsol in the 100 back, where he came in second. He also swam on A&M's winning 200 free reelay.

The 6-2, 175-pound Aggie, whom Nash rightfully calls
"one of the fastest sprinters in college today," won the 50 opening-night in a pr 19.66, just .02 off the Aggie record of 19.64 by former Big 12 sprint kingpin Jerrod Kappler.

In the 100 back, a race Nash says they "haven't worked on much at all this season," Rose went another pr, 47.37 to Peirsol's winning 47.21. Rose's time is not too far off the Aggie record of 46.69 by yet another Canadian — Riley Janes — from NCAAs here two seasons ago.

Then on the final evening, Rose finally bettered an Aggie standard with his 43.45 100 free victory, .01 quicker than David Morrow's 43.46 — also from NCAAs in '01.

All his times are NCAA auto qualifying marks and Nash thinks the "best is yet to come" for his Canadian import.

"Matt's hungry for success and I'm confident he'll do well at NCAAs. He knows this pool, knows the walls and has always swum well well here."

Aggie Alfredo Jacobs also got into the record-setting act with his 54.53 second-place finish in the 100 breast, topping his old A&M mark of 54.73.

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The 200 yard backstroke helped set the tone early for both Texas teams as two freshmen set meet records. Peirsol, a silver medalist at the 2000 Olympics, World Champion a year later in Fukuoka and world record-holder in the 200 meter backstroke, added to his glittering resume by swimming a meet-record 1:41.36. The time is .01 slower than his pr 1:41.35 from the Longhorn Invitational here last December, the nation's fastest.

(However, either Stanford's Markus Rogan, defending NCAA champ whose pr is 1:40.70; or teammate Peter Marshall, defending NCAA 100 back champ who went a pr 1:41.85 last season, may eclipse Peirsol's time during Pac-10s next weekend at Belmont Plaza.)

Following Peirsol's victory, Wycliffe added a meet record time 1:57.24 in the women's event en route to a first-place finish. Peirsol's time eclipsed Neil Walker's mark of 1:41.72 and Wycliffe was .07 faster than Bethany Lindberg's 1:57.31 in 2000. Walker is reigning AR/NCAA record-holder in the 100 back (44.92).

Texas junior All-America Brendan Hansen once again showed why he is one of the elite breaststrokers in the nation. For the sixth time in six tries, Hansen reeled in a Big 12 title in an individual breaststroke event with his meet record time of 1:55.40, tops nationally. The mark for Hansen eclipsed his previous meet record of 1:55.68 from last year.

American/NCAA record-holder in the 200 breaststroke plus double-defending national collegiate champ in both the 100-200, Hansen has never lost a race during his career with the 'Horns — dual-meet, Big 12 or NCAAs (prelims or finals).

UT freshman Tracey Hemmerle followed Hansen in the women's 200 breaststroke with her 2:16.09. Hemmerle became the second freshman to win a title in a breaststroke event at the championships as teammate Amanda Larence (Nashville, Tenn) captured the 100 breaststroke a day earlier.

In the 1650 free, Longhorn sophomore John Nabors posted an NCAA consideration time of 15:28.11 en route to nabbing his first Big 12 Conference title. Sophomore Elizabeth Hoffman also gave a strong showing in the women's race as she touched just ahead of Texas A&M's Katie Fancher for second with a 16:44.75.

The Texas Women earned their fifth straight Big 12 Championship.

The Texas divers continued an impressive week as Pohorenec and Linnette were the top performers on the platform competition. Pohorenec finished with a score of 507.55 and Linette won his second event of the meet with a score of 578.25.

Other victories on the day included sophomore Rainer Kendrick in the men's 200 yard butterfly, where he defended his title from last season; and senior Tanica Jamison in the women's 100 freestyle. Kendrick, the Texas and Big 12 record holder in the 200 butterfly (1:43.56 from NCAAs), won in an auto cut of 1:44.87. Jamison posted a mark of 49.28, also an NCAA "A" standard.

The final event saw both the Longhorn women and men claim victories in the 400 freestyle relay. The women's squad of sophomore Michelle Molina, freshman Kristy Siminski, Wanezek and Jamison posted an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 3:18.19,

The men's group of junior Tony Diers, senior Chris Kemp (200-500 free champ), junior Ian Crocker (double-defending NCAA 100 fly champ and American/NCAA record-holder) and Peirsol also added an automatic cut of 2:54.61.

Texas concluded the meet by establishing five meet records. On the men's side, Hansen and Peirsol established conference standards in the 200 breaststroke and 200 backstroke, respectively. The women's squad also established two times that rank as the best in league history with Singaporean Olympian Jocelyn Yeo in the 200 individual medley and Wanazek in the 100 butterfly. Wanazek and Yeo also teamed with senior Erin Phenix and freshman Amanda Larence for the top time in the 400 medley relay.

The women's team returns to action Saturday, March 1 when it hosts the Bevo Invitational at 6 PM CST. The men's team will not compete again until it hosts the American Short Course Championships here Thursday-Saturday, March 6-8.

Preliminaries will begin at 10 AM and the finals are slated to begin at 6 PM. The meet will serve as a last-chance opportunity for many athletes to make NCAA cuts and in its brief history, has become THE premier non-collegiate championship short course yards meet.

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