AUSTIN, Texas, February 27. THE Texas Longhorns continued to dominate tonight at the Big 12 men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships, winning all but one event.
Only one automatic qualifying time for the NCAA championships posted on the scoreboard tonight, and that came in the final event. Texas dominated in the men’s 400 medley relay with a 3:07.12 as Kip Darmody (45.92), Imri Ganiel (52.75), Conger (45.81) and Ellis (42.64) gave the Longhorns a four-second victory over West Virginia, which posted a 3:11.11 that included a 46.14 backstroke leg from Bryce Bohman. Texas Christian rounded out the top three with a 3:13.58.
One of the more exciting races of the meet tonight was the men’s 500 freestyle, in which three Longhorns battled for more than four minutes for the title. Leading after 200 meters was sophomore Sam Lewis with a 1:40.83, less than two tenths ahead of freshman Jack Conger. Lewis had the lead through the 300-yard mark, when junior Clay Youngquist turned on the afterburners and charged to the lead to win the race with a 4:15.68. Conger put up a 24.17 final 50 to overtake Lewis and place second with a 4:15.73. Lewis settled for third with a 4:16.0 as all three posted NCAA “B” cuts, just shy of the automatic qualifying time of 4:15.29.
Tim Squires of West Virginia kept Texas from enjoying their run of conference titles with a 19.32 to win the 50 free after a 19.45 in prelims. Squires’ previous lifetime best before the meet was 19.93, done at the Mizzou Invite last November, and he now ranks in the top 10 of the current collegiate standings with tonight’s swim. It’s a big move up for the junior after redshirting last year and not moving past the conference championships as a sophomore and freshman. Placing second behind him tonight was Texas’ Matt Ellis with a 19.48, while teammate Tripp Cooper was third with a 19.69.
In the other men’s individual event of the day, Texas freshman Austin Vacek won the 200 IM with a 1:46.05, holding off a field of four swimmers who also broke 1:47. West Virginia senior Jake Querciagrossa was second with a 1:46.52, with Texas’ Will Glass (1:46.55) and Will Licon (1:46.62) and West Virginia’s Nate Carr (1:46.67) in the mix.
In the women’s side of the competition, Texas took all the swimming events, starting with a 4:42.92 from Kelsey Leaneave to win the 500 freestyle over teammate Kaitlin Pawlowicz (4:46.18) and Iowa State’s Karyl Clarete (4:46.22).
Freshman Madisyn Cox had no trouble in the 200 IM, taking the win in 1:56.31, missing the NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:55.72. Gretchen Jacques of Texas placed second with a 1:58.03 while Kansas’ Chelsie Miller took third with a 1:59.25.
Ellen Lobb won her third consecutive 50 free conference title, beating teammate Sam Tucker 22.04 to 22.75. Lily Moldenhauer of Texas and Iowa State’s Amanda Paulson tied for third, as each finished the race with times of 22.78.
Maren Taylor took charge in 1-meter diving, scoring a meet-record total of 346.35 points in the final for Texas. Iowa State’s Jessica Henderson was a distant second with 314.40 points, while Texas’ Emma Ivory-Ganja scored third with 310.10 points.
The Texas women won the 400 medley relay handily with a 3:33.09 by eight seconds over the 3:41.16 posted by Kansas. Iowa State notched third with a 3:41.81.