Matt Brownstead Breaks Caeleb Dressel’s National HS Record with 19.24 50 Free (VIDEO)

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Matt Brownstead Photo Courtesy: Staff Photo

The white board in Matt Brownstead’s room has had a number scribbled on it for most of his senior season. It’s 19.17, his goal time in the 50 free.

That was the point off in the distance that the State College sprinter aimed for. The hurdle over which he had to leap to get there was just as obvious, so burned into his brain that it didn’t require a marker to ink it: 19.29, the national public high school record set by Caeleb Dressel.

Wednesday night, at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Championships, Brownstead accomplished a goal … and then some.

Brownstead downed Dressel’s record, winning the Class 3A race at Bucknell University in 19.24 seconds. Though he didn’t hit his goal time, he did something arguably more impressive: On the Lions’ 200 free relay, which finished fourth, Brownstead split a ridiculous time of 18.67 seconds on the anchor leg.

“It certainly an outstanding feeling,” Brownstead told Swimming World. “It’s kind of mind-boggling to think that I’m anywhere near what he (Dressel) goes because he’s the best swimmer in the world. But it feels really good to be here with my team cheering for me.”

Brownstead defended his PIAA title in the event, last year setting the state record at 19.55. His reaction after looking at the board was one of elation, with a little surprise mixed in.

“I had been thinking about that. It’s a little bit of surprise, a little bit of excitement,” Brownstead said. “But when I saw it, I was mostly excited because last year was kind of the same thing when I broke the state record, that this was what I want to go and I know I have the potential to do it, but I want to see if I can.”

Pennington School’s David Curtiss still owns the National Independent School record at 19.42 set last month.

Brownstead now ranks fifth all-time in the 50 free in boys’ 17-18 history:

1. Caeleb Dressel – 18.67
2. Ryan Hoffer – 18.71
3. Michael Andrew – 18.88
4. Matt Brownstead – 19.24
5. Drew Kibler -19.35

Brownstead has been an under-the-radar sprint star for a while, swimming at a smaller club in Nittany Lion Aquatic. His stock grew rapidly last year at the World Junior Championships, and he’s committed to join what appears to be a building men’s program at the University of Virginia, powered by a burgeoning sprint contingent.

“It’s super exciting,” Brownstead said. “To know that the first years now and my class going in is just so strong, and all the people there right now that were at ACCs, it’s just an outstanding team. And to know that we have the potential to do really big things there, it’s super exciting.”

State College coach Andrew Morrison said that Brownstead’s focus has redoubled since World Juniors in Budapest, and days like Wednesday are an indication of what he’s capable of.

It’s most telling that Brownstead’s grin widened when he discussed his relay split. He brought home the squad, which includes his brother John, in an 18.67, an otherworldly split. For a catch as the 19.24 might be, the relay swim holds just as fond a place in his heart.

“He’s been wanting to be captain for a while,” Morrison said. “Now he has that chance and he’s doing everything that he’s supposed to do as a captain. He’s driving the team., he’s setting us up for success. That’s how Matt is. He’s not an internal guy about that. He wants to see the team do well.”

“That makes me really happy,” Brownstead said. “That’s been a goal for a while too. And getting to do it with my team on the relay is always awesome. It’s super high energy going in.”

Chandler Brandes contributed to this report

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