Texas Rolls Towards NCAAs With Fast Swims at Big 12 Champs

AUSTIN, Texas, March 5. THE University of Texas men's and women's teams each had no problem collecting the team titles at the Big 12 swimming and diving championships in their preparation for the NCAA championships.

For men's head coach Eddie Reese, it was his 34th consecutive title that dates back to the days when Texas was a part of the Southwest Conference. Carol Capitani celebrated her first conference win as women's head coach for the Longhorns.

Day 1
The meet started on Wednesday with automatic relay qualifying times for the Longhorns, as Texas swept the 200 medley and 800 free relays. The men took the 200 medley relay with a 1:25.23, which sits eighth in the collegiate rankings thus far in the season. Their 800 free relay time of 6:17.33 puts them third behind Michigan and Florida, and sets Texas up to defend its 2012 national title.

On the women's side, Texas handily won the relays, with the 200 medley squad posting a 1:36.69 and the 800 free relay swimming a 7:01.61.

Texas freshman Cory Bowersox won the men's 1-meter diving title with 360.55 points, with teammate Will McCraney second with 336 points. West Virginia's Richard Pokorny placed third with 317 points. West Virginia claimed 56 points in the men's 1-meter competition, which helped to give the Mountaineers a 14-point lead over the Texas men after the first day. The women from Texas held a 29-point lead after the first day of competition.

Day 2
The men from Texas were set to sweep the swimming events on day two, but were felled by a disqualification in the 400 medley at the end of the session. Freestyler Madison Wenzler left the blocks early on his leg, rendering the swim null and void for the Longhorns. As far as points were concerned at the meet, Texas had already built a sizeable lead in the standings, but the DQ likely stung to finish the day.

Michael McBroom won the 500 free in a lifetime best of 4:14.42, dropping 1.5 seconds off his previous best. The time ranks him potentially in the top five headed into the NCAAs. Texas took second and third with Jake Ritter's 4:15.85 earning him an automatic invite to the NCAAs, and Clay Youngquist swimming a “B” standard of 4:17.64.

Austin Surhoff, the 2010 NCAA champ in the 200 IM, won that event at the Big 12 meet with a 1:43.59, an automatic qualifying time and top 10 in the nation. Dax Hill debuted his versatility with a 1:45.33 in second place, while Conor Swanson placed third with a 1:47.19.

Charlie Moore led another Texas 1-2-3 sweep with a 50 free victory in 19.73. Madison Wenzler placed second with a 19.80 and John Murray finished third with a 19.82.

With the Texas DQ in the medley relay, West Virginia was able to claim its first Big 12 title with a time of 3:17.99. Texas Christian University, the other team in the meet, also disqualified due to an early takeff by its freestyler, despite touching a clear second in the race.

West Virginia was also able to win one event on the women's side, this time outright, as Rachael Burnett won the 500 free with a 4:38.40 to not only earn an automatic NCAA bid, but break the meet record of 4:39.14 set by Texas A&M's Cammile Adams in 2011. (Texas A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference this season.) Well back in third was Texas' Kelsey Leneave with a 4:43.27, and West Virginia's Mandie Nugent placed third with a 4:43.65.

Texas sophomore Skylar Smith won her first Big 12 title, taking the 200 IM with a 1:57.12. Laura Sogar of Texas placed second with a 1:58.64, while West Virginia's Breanna McCann was third with a 1:59.47.

Ellen Lobb led a 1-2-3 Texas finish in the women's 50 free, taking the title in 22.27. Kelsey Amundsen was the runner up with a 22.57, just ahead of teammate Bethany Adams' 22.61.

The Longhorns closed out with a 400 medley relay victory in a time of 3:32.75, an automatic qualifying time. West Virginia missed out on a B cut by a second with a 3:38.56, while Iowa State was third in 3:42.92.

The Longhorns placed in the top three in the women's 1-meter diving, led by Maren Taylor's 323.20 score. Meghan Houston wasn't too far back with 313.15 points, while Samantha Holland was third with 290.05 points.

Texas had comfortable leads after day two, with the women leading by 89 points over West Virginia and the men taking a 58-point lead over the Mountaineers.

Day 3
Rachael Burnett was once again able to snap the Texas winning streak as the Longhorns continued to pile on the automatic qualifiers on the third day of competition.

Burnett won the 200 freestyle in 1:45.22, an NCAA B standard. Sarah Denninghoff of Texas was second with a 1:45.55, while Kelsey Leneave and Sam Tucker tied for third with a 1:45.85.

Not long after the 200 free, Denninghoff won the 100 back in an automatic qualifying time of 52.10, just .03 under the cut and just outside the top 10 in the event nationally. She won the race ahead of teammates Lily Moldenhauer (52.62) and Jess Guro (54.03).

Kaitlin Pawlowicz started the session with a win for Texas in the women's 400 IM with a 4:11.80, while Kansas' Chelsie Miller took second in 4:15.01 and Texas' Victoria Cassidy placed third with a 4:15.04 with a strong freestyle leg.

Kelsey Amundsen took the win in a close 100 fly race with a 52.57, getting to the wall just a tenth ahead of West Virginia's Mandie Nugent (52.57). In third was Gretchen Jacques of Texas with a 52.79.

Having already secured an automatic NCAA bid with a 58.32 at the USA Swimming nationals in December, Laura Sogar's primary goal was a win in the 100 breast, and she got it with a 58.67. Teammate Gretchen Jacques took second with a 59.64, while Iowa State's Imelda Wistey placed third with a 1:01.35.

In the women's 3-meter competition, Texas swept the top three places, with Meghan Taylor taking the win with 338.65 points. Maren Taylor was second with 330.60 points, and Diana Wilcox placed third with 329.45 points.

Texas closed out the women's competition on day three with a 200 free relay time of 1:29.71 to automatically get a spot in the NCAAs in the event. The other four teams in the race all touched in the 1:32 range, with Texas Christian earning second place with a 1:32.72, Iowa State third in 1:32.88 and Kansas fourth in 1:32.91. West Virginia was disqualified when Burnett left early on the anchor leg.

While the Texas women were unable to secure a sweep of the swimming events on Friday, the men had no issue with getting to the wall first in all five races. They started the night with a win by Austin Surhoff in the 400 IM with a 3:45.11, a little more than a second away from an automatic NCAA bid. Michael McBroom was second with a 3:49.33, while John Martens rounded out a Texas sweep with a 3:49.85.

Tripp Cooper swam the only NCAA B standard in the men's 100 fly, winning with a 46.85. Conor Swanson of Texas was second with a 48.56, while Texas Christian's Corey Nix placed third with a 48.85.

In the absence of reigning NCAA champion Dax Hill, Clay Youngquist had no trouble winning the 200 free with a swift 1:33.71, just .08 slower than the automatic qualifying time but likely fast enough to be invited to race the event in Indianapolis. Sam Lewis of Texas was second with a 1:36.39, while West Virginia's Ross Glegg took third with a 1:36.78.

Dax Hill came to Texas with a 54.78 to his credit in the 100 breaststroke, and he swam to a lifetime best of 53.33 to win the event at the Big 12 meet. Teammate Charlie Moore took second with a 54.88, while Christopher Brill of West Virginia finished third with a 55.02.

Kip Darmody led another Texas 1-2-3, this time in the men's 100 back as he won a close four-way battle with a time of 46.77 ahead of teammate Patrick Murphy's runner-up time of 46.99, Cole Cragin's 47.10 and Texas Christian's Adam Szilagyi's fourth-place time of 47.20.

Texas was unable to secure an automatic qualifying time in the men's 200 free relay, winning with a 1:18.64. Texas has swum faster this season, with a 1:18.51 from the tri-meet against Arizona and SMU. West Virginia (1:19.92) and Texas Christian (1:21.71) rounded out the top three in the three-team event.

As the women did on the 3-meter springboard, Texas' male divers swept the top three spots as well. Cory Bowersox added to his 1-meter win with a 416.25 score to win the higher springboard event, while Will Chandler scored 398.15 for second. Will McCraney placed third with 389.35 points.

With the 3-meter diving scores, Texas increased its lead in the men's race to 144 points over West Virginia. On the women's side, Texas held a 357-point advantage over West Virginia going into the final day.

Day 4
Sarah Denninghoff made it a sweep of the backstrokes to start the final day of swimming, winning the 200 back in 1:53.21. Iowa State's Bre Loeschke was second with a 1:56.90, while Texas' Jess Guro finished third with a 1:57.34.

Sam Tucker, possibly still riding the wave of seeing older brother Justin celebrate a Super Bowl win with the Baltimore Ravens, won the 100 free with a 48.99, while teammates Alex Hooper (49.21) and Ellen Lobb (49.32) completed the Texas sweep.

West Virginia's Rachael Burnett won her third event of the meet with a 16:04.26 in the 1650 free, just three seconds from the automatic qualifying time. Kelsey Leneave was second with a 16:14.36, with Kaitlin Pawlowicz finishing third with a 16:20.44.

Laura Sogar wiped away the conference record of 2:06.18 held by Texas A&M's Breeja Larson with a 2:05.25 to win the 200 breast. Sogar came within two tenths of a second of her lifetime best, which was swum at the December nationals. Teammates Gretchen Jacques and Skylar Smith battled for minor spoils, with Jacques taking second in 2:11.47 and Smith third with a 2:12.75.

The 200 butterfly not only presented West Virginia with a 1-2 sweep, but it featured no Longhorn swimmers in the championship final. Mandie Nugent won the race with a 1:55.82, while teammate Julie Ogden earned second with a 1:58.71. Ali Bleasdell was third with a 1:59.12.

It was another 1-2-3 sweep in diving for the Texas women, this time on the 10-meter platform. Shelby Cullinan won with 294.95 points, with Diana Wilcox second with 273.10 points. Kristina Hoffman rounded out the top three with 262.65 points.

Texas rebounded with an automatic NCAA qualifying time in the 400 free relay with a 3:15.83, with Kansas barely getting to the wall ahead of West Virginia, 3:21.32 to 3:21.36.

On the men's side, Texas Christian got its first win of the meet with a 1:43.35 touch-out victory by Cooper Robinson in the 200 backstroke. Kip Darmody of Texas was second with a 1:43.60 and Austin Surhoff settled for third with a 1:43.66.

Dax Hill won the 100 free convincingly with a 42.71, missing the automatic cut by three tenths but putting him in the top 10 nationally. Teammate John Murray was second with a 43.53 and West Virginia's Ross Glegg placed third with a 43.93.

Michael McBroom, the 2011 NCAA champion in the 1650 free, made a statement on Saturday with a winning time of 14:33.53. It broke Jackson Wilcox's meet record of 14:41.85 from 2009, and came within seven tenths of the time he swam to win the NCAA title. Currently, the time puts him first in the country. Finishing well back in second was teammate Sam Lewis with a 14:54.33, and Texas' Jake Ritter was third with a 15:09.30.

Matt Korman of Texas was the only swimmer under two minutes in the men's 200 breast, winning with a 1:59.39. West Virginia's Christopher Brill was second with a 2:00.14, and Mitchell Adshead of Texas Christian was third with a 2:00.82.

Texas' Tripp Cooper held off two strong challengers to win the 200 fly with a 1:45.29. Texas Christian's Luz Azarias was second with a 1:46.04, while Texas' Conor Swanson placed third with a 1:46.36.

Will Chandler was the lone Texas Longhorn in the men's platform diving final, winning with a score of 341.30 points. Texas Christian took second and third, with Curtis Miller scoring 263.20 points and Ricky Bradley earning 233.75 points.

The meet wrapped up with a decisive Texas victory in the men's 400 free relay, posting an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:52.24. West Virginia was comfortably in second with a 2:56.94, and Texas Christian was third in 3:01.84.

Final scores:

Texas 985
Texas Christian 798
West Virginia 788

Texas 1051
West Virginia 576
Texas Christian 574
Kansas 540.5
Iowa State 486.5

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