A Cuts for Jere Hribar, Taiko Torepe-Ormsby Underscore NCAA’s International Reach

Jere Hribar Photo Courtesy: Reagan Cotten/LSU Athletics

A Cuts for Jere Hribar, Taiko Torepe-Ormsby Underscore NCAA’s International Reach

For some time, sprinting at the NCAA Men’s Championships has been an international affair. It can become cliché to suggest that an NCAA final in any event resembles an Olympic final. But it has never felt more accurate than the veritable conference of nations that the 50 free has become.

The names of NCAA medal contenders aren’t surprising. But this week, a pair of international swimmers punching tickets to Paris has reinforced the depth.

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby and Jere Hribar weren’t household names at NCAAs this spring, swimmers who finished outside the A final. But Torepe-Ormsby parlayed an impressive freshman season at Wisconsin into an Olympic A cut in the men’s 50 free in his native New Zealand last week. And Hribar, a freshman at LSU hailing from Croatia, achieved his NCAA A standard at the Speedo Canadian Open.

Torepe-Ormsby blasted a 21.86, both the auto cut to Paris and a New Zealand record. He chopped a quarter second off his best time, a quantum leap in a sprinter’s life.

Hribar, an impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-8, blossomed at LSU this year. It led him to go from a best time of 22.17 seconds to 21.97 in prelims of the Canadian Open, then 21.94 in finals for the A cut.

It’s worth taking a look at the A and B finals of the 2024 NCAA Championships in the men’s 50 free:

Event 5  Men 50 Yard Freestyle
         NCAA: N 17.63  3/22/2018 Caeleb Dressel, Florida
         Meet: M 17.63  3/22/2018 Caeleb Dressel, Florida
     American: A 17.63  3/22/2018 Caeleb Dressel, Florida
   U. S. Open: O 17.63  3/22/2018 Caeleb Dressel, Florida
         Pool: P 18.07  3/28/2024 Josh Liendo, Florida
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
                       === Championship Final ===                        
  1 Liendo, Josh           SO Florida             18.33      18.07P  20  
     r:+0.60  8.73         18.07 (9.34)
  2 Crooks, Jordan         JR Tennessee           18.49      18.09   17  
     r:+0.57  8.62         18.09 (9.47)
  3 Alexy, Jack            JR California          18.44      18.38   16  
     r:+0.63  8.83         18.38 (9.55)
  4 Guiliano, Chris        JR Notre Dame          18.43      18.49   15  
     r:+0.61  8.75         18.49 (9.74)
  5 Seeliger, Bjorn        SR California          18.57      18.54   14  
     r:+0.61  8.84         18.54 (9.70)
  6 Santos, Guilherme      SO Tennessee           18.76      18.57   13  
     r:+0.58  8.75         18.57 (9.82)
  7 Dolan, Jack            5Y ASU                 18.62      18.59   12  
     r:+0.65  8.87         18.59 (9.72)
  8 Kulow, Jonny           SO ASU                 18.64      18.77   11  
     r:+0.61  9.02         18.77 (9.75)
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
  9 Ramadan, Youssef       SR VT                  18.82      18.74    9  
     r:+0.58  9.08         18.74 (9.66)
 10 Torepe-Ormsby, Taiko   SO Wisconsin           18.78      18.81    7  
     r:+0.58  9.03         18.81 (9.78)
 11 Hribar, Jere           FR LSU                 18.81      18.96    6  
     r:+0.69  9.15         18.96 (9.81)
 12 Kharun, Ilya           FR ASU                 18.94      19.04    5  
     r:+0.65  9.21         19.04 (9.83)
 13 Fullum-Huot, Ed        SO Florida             19.04      19.07    4  
     r:+0.61  9.21         19.07 (9.86)
 14 Downing, Dillon        5Y Georgia             19.03      19.14    3  
     r:+0.65  9.17         19.14 (9.97)
 15 Chaney, Adam           SR Florida             18.99      19.15    2  
     r:+0.60  9.20         19.15 (9.95)
 16 McCarty, Quintin       FR NC State            18.92      19.23    1  
     r:+0.63  9.28         19.23 (9.95)

There’s Josh Liendo, the Canadian who has won bronze in the 100 free at a World Championships and both silver and bronze in the 100 fly. There’s Jordan Crooks, who won gold in the Short-Course Worlds 50 free for the Cayman Islands. Bjorn Seeliger represented Sweden at the last Olympics. Gui Caribe is one of the next generation of Brazilian sprinters. In ninth, Youssef Ramadan has earned a second swim at an Olympics for Egypt.

Now the line stretches. Add in Torepe-Ormsby, who finished 10th, and Hribar, in 11th. With Canadian Ilya Kharun in 12th, that means you have likely eight Olympians representing seven countries before even considering how the Americans might shake out at Trials.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Hribar is following in the Croatian footsteps of one-time collegian Duje Draganja. The long-course world record in the 50 free was long held by a man who included a stop at Auburn on his itinerary in Cesar Cielo. The first man to break 19 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle was a Frenchman on the Plains, Fred Bousquet. From the South Africans who used Arizona as a way station to Athens gold to Aussies galore, the American college system has long nurtured some of the world’s premier sprinters.

This generation, though, may yet end up adding a significant new chapter.

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