SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, October 19. A dual-meet upset occurred at 4,000 feet above sea level, as the Arizona Wildcats men’s swimming and diving team lost their first meet of the season against Utah with a score of 152-148 in a meet that mirrored the outcome of yesterday’s women’s meet between Texas and Texas A&M.
This meet is an upset of epic proportions, as Arizona finished last season as the third-best team at the NCAA championships, while Utah was 33rd. But a dual meet is about more than putting the top swimmers in first place, and Utah’s determination to score as much as possible in the minor places made the difference.
“This win is going to change the perception of us nationally,” said first-year head coach Joe Dykstra. “I’ll say as great as it is to win, we left a lot of points out there in the pool today. We can get a lot better. It’s a great win. It’s a program-defining win. It’s probably the biggest upset in 20-25 years for this team, but we’ve got to get better still.”
The Wildcats were without a couple of swimmers that could have been a big help in securing a win. Senior Mitchell Friedemann and junior Brad Tandy did not make the trip to Utah, leaving a gap in Arizona’s backstroke and sprint freestyle talents, respectively. Arizona won seven of the 16 events in the men’s meet, including a double from the reliable Kevin Cordes in the 100 (55.86) and 200 (2:01.30) breaststrokes.
Utah was to win more individual events, but used a good amount of depth to outscore Arizona in each of the events they won. Kiraly Bence won the 200 free (1:41.00) and 500 free (4:35.42) to give the Utes one of three double wins on the day. Also taking two victories for Utah was junior Nick Soedel, who took the sprint freestyles in the absence of Tandy with times of 20.20 and 44.47.
Including the win in the 200 back by Kristian Kron with a 1:47.72, the sophomore celebrated a win in the 200 IM with a 1:51.82.
Arizona’s strength came in the breaststroke events, while Utah stayed in the game with big points in diving, thanks to wins by Josiah Purss on the 1-meter (362.93 points) and 3-meter (325.35).
Other wins for Arizona came in the 1000 free by freshman Ty Fowler (9:47.07), Michael Sheppard in the 100 back (50.17), Michael Meyer in the 200 fly (1:52.46) and Giles Smith in the 100 fly (49.85).
With Kron’s win in the 200 IM, as well as a third-place finish by Ian Clarke, Utah got within five points of Arizona, with the Wildcats leading 144-139. All Arizona needed to do was win the 400 free relay, which, given their tradition of strength in the sprint freestyles, seemed like a foregone conclusion.
But Utah was juiced by the close battle, and posted a 3:02.11 to win the relay … and the meet. Arizona was second with a 3:05.34, while Utah’s “B” team was a close third with a 3:05.86.