NCAA Swimming Meets of the Week: Texas Men, Cal Women Make Huge Statements in Minnesota

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Drew Kibler was huge for the Longhorns this weekend at the Minnesota Invite. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week

The fall semester wrapped up over the weekend for many of the NCAA Division I, II and III teams across the country. The December Invites came to a close and gave fans some appetizers for what will come in February and March once we get into the meat of championship season. The Minnesota, Calvin, and Denison Invites were our Division I, II, and III meets of the week and there was plenty of fast swimming to be dissected in each meet.

Here are some of the highlights from the meets of the week.

Minnesota Invite: Texas Men are DEEP

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Daniel Krueger posted the top time in the 100 free at the Minnesota Invite on Saturday. Texas is currently ranked 1-2-3 in Division I in that event. Photo Courtesy: Texas Athletics

The Texas Longhorns men’s swimming and diving put on a show at the Minnesota Invite. In a meet that was heavily hyped with Texas and Cal; two swimming powerhouses of this decade meeting before March, it really wasn’t a duel at all. Texas amassed 1182 points over the three and a half day meet; well ahead of Cal, who actually got beat by Michigan for second. The Wolverines finished runner-up with 803.5 points ahead of the Golden Bears’ 759.5 points.

Cal was slightly short handed, missing Zheng Quah and Hugo Gonzalez. But the presence of those two wouldn’t have really mattered for Cal because Texas was just that good across the board. The Longhorns were so good that at this point in the season, they have at least two swimmers ranked in the top eight in Division I in every single event except for the 50 free. That domination is unheard of, even for a team that once put six swimmers in the A-Final of an event at NCAAs.

Texas was so deep that their 400 medley relay B team beat Cal’s A team by three tenths, and was only two seconds off the Longhorns’ A team. And it’s not like Cal had a weak team. All-Americans Daniel Carr (45.83), Reece Whitley (50.72), Ryan Hoffer (45.06) and Pawel Sendyk (42.28) swam a 3:03.8, which is the second fastest time in the country – among A relays that is. Texas’ B team of Chris Staka (45.35), Charlie Scheinfeld (51.72), Alvin Jiang (43.82) and Luke Bowman (42.66) put up an insane 3:03.5. Had the Longhorns swam their best four guys on one relay, they would have been a 3:00.9, and we can’t imagine that Texas is fully rested. So that 2:59 record that once seemed untouchable could very well go down at NCAAs.

The only blemish for Texas this weekend was the disqualification of its A 200 free relay, but other than that the Longhorns were nearly perfect, which is scary to think since they were not shaved.

All in all, Texas put up nation-leading times in nine of the eighteen events (the 100, 200, 500 free, 200 back, 100, 200 fly, 400, 800 free relay, and the 400 medley relay). Cal had a solid meet in Minnesota nonetheless, posting the nation’s top time in the 50 free, 200 breast, 400 IM, 200 free relay, and 200 medley relay.

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week: Nation-Leading Times Done at Minnesota Invite:

  • Ryan Hoffer, Cal, 50 free, 18.98
  • Daniel Krueger, Texas, 100 free, 41.45
  • Drew Kibler, Texas, 200 free, 1:30.83
  • Drew Kibler, Texas, 500 free, 4:11.19
  • Austin Katz, Texas, 200 back, 1:37.35
  • Max McHugh, Minnesota, 100 breast, 50.74
  • Reece Whitley, Cal, 200 breast, 1:51.02
  • Maxime Rooney, Texas, 100 fly, 44.83
  • Sam Pomajevich, Texas, 200 fly, 1:39.35
  • Trenton Julian, Cal, 400 IM, 3:40.05
  • Sendyk, Hoffer, Mefford, Jensen, Cal, 200 free relay, 1:16.01
  • Rooney, Jiang, Kibler, Krueger, Texas, 400 free relay, 2:46.57
  • Rooney, Willenbring, Katz, Kibler, Texas, 800 free relay, 6:08.40
  • Carr, Whitley, Sendyk, Hoffer, Cal, 200 medley relay, 1:23.12
  • Harty, Corbeau, Rooney, Krueger, Texas, 400 medley relay, 3:01.51

Minnesota Invite: Is This The Year for the Cal Women?

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Abbey Weitzeil became the first woman to break 21 seconds from a flat start in the 50 free SCY. Can she help Cal win the NCAA title and dethrone three-time champ Stanford? Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It finally happened. Cal senior Abbey Weitzeil became the first woman to ever break 21 seconds from a flat start in the 50 free with a 20.9 on Thursday night. It has been a long time coming for Weitzeil, who had the American record of 21.12 set the year before she even got to Cal in March 2016. There was a lot of hype around Weitzeil, having set the American record in the 100 free as a high school senior in December 2014. She followed that up with a trip to the Olympic Games in 2016 after she had deferred her enrollment at Cal by a year.

She struggled in her first two years at Cal, not winning an individual NCAA title in either the 50 or 100 free despite being one of the fastest women in history in both events. Weitzeil turned that around her junior season when she won the 50 free NCAA title with a 21.02, becoming oh-so-close to being the first woman to break 21 from a flat start. It was something she had expected of herself and even her coach Terri McKeever tried to incentivize her by saying she would get a tattoo if Weitzeil got under. Alas, it didn’t happen last season, but she was still happy with the win. Weitzeil experienced more adversity though when she hyperextended her elbow in the 200 medley relay final at NCAAs, having to swim the 100 free and 400 free relay in an arm brace on the last day. It didn’t matter too much since she still wound up fourth in the 100 and anchored the 400 free relay to a new American record.

Cal ended up finishing second at NCAAs last year, a mere 37 points behind arch rival Stanford. It felt like that was Cal’s best shot at a national title with the core group of Weitzeil, Katie McLaughlin and Amy Bilquist leading the bulk of their team to three relay titles. McLaughlin and Bilquist have moved on to pro careers, leaving Weitzeil as the alpha dog this season.

But Cal’s performance at the Minnesota Invite has put them as the number one team in the country thanks to the emergence of swimmers like Izzy IveyAlicia Wilson and Ema Rajic. Ivey came up huge at NCAAs last year by getting in two A-Finals and has not skipped a beat this season, putting up top eight times in the 100 fly, 100 back and 200 IM. In the 200 IM at Minnesota, she actually tied for the win with teammate Wilson as the pair put up identical 1:54.68’s. Wilson is also ranked in the top eight in the 400 IM nationally, and Rajic is in the top eight in both breaststrokes.

As of this weekend, the Cal women have at least one swimmer ranked in the top eight in every single individual event but the 500 and 1650. With that depth and the nation’s top sprinter (Weitzeil), is this the year Cal can finally take down Stanford? We still have a long ways to go until NCAAs, but the Cal women definitely sent a message to the rest of the country that they are not to be messed with.

Cal had the nation’s top time in the three freestyle relays thanks to the prowess of Weitzeil, who swam on all five of the Bears’ relays.

Not to be forgotten is Michigan sophomore Maggie MacNeil, who tied the NCAA record and fastest time ever in the 100 butterfly with a 49.26, tying Louise Hansson’s mark from last year’s NCAAs. MacNeil has been on fire this year as she upset world record holder and reigning Olympic champ Sarah Sjostrom in the 100 butterfly at the World Championships this summer and is all of a sudden one of the favorites to win the Olympic crown in 2020. She showed she was unfazed by those expectations by swimming a 49.2 this weekend in Minnesota.

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week: Nation-Leading Times Done at Minnesota Invite:

  • 50 free: Abbey Weitzeil, Cal, 20.90 (American record)
  • 100 fly: Maggie MacNeil, Michigan, 49.26 (NCAA record)
  • 200 free relay: Ivey, Riley, Murphy, Weitzeil, Cal, 1:27.14
  • 400 free relay: Ivey, Blovad, Neumann, Weitzeil, Cal, 3:10.99
  • 800 free relay: Spitz, Ivey, Neumann, Weitzeil, Cal, 6:56.00

Calvin Invite: Grand Valley Men, Northern Michigan Women Take Wins

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Rachel Helm. Photo Courtesy: Meghan Curran

The Grand Valley men and Northern Michigan women won the Calvin Invitational over the weekend as Grand Valley’s Harry Shalamon had the lone nation-leading time with a 47.07 in the 100 backstroke. Shalamon swam the second fastest time in Division II this season with a 1:44.13 in the 200 back in winning by nearly five full seconds, the event he is the defending national champion in. He also won the 200 IM with a 1:47.93 as he is tied for second in Division II halfway through the season.

The Lakers also picked up wins from Jesse Goodyear in the 1000 (15:24.95), Oscar Saura Armengol in the 100 fly (47.47), and Keegan Hawkins in the 400 IM (3:51.70) to put themselves in the top three in Division II in their respective events. Grand Valley finished in the top five at NCAAs last season and is looking in good shape to replicate that placing this season.

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week: Nation-Leading Times Done at Calvin Invite (Men)

  • 100 back: Harry Shalamon, Grand Valley, 47.07

The highlight for the Northern Michigan women came from senior Rachel Helm, who swept the backstroke races with a 54.74 and 1:57.93, the latter putting her second in Division II at this point in the year. Northern Michigan also claimed two wins on the men’s side with Roberto Camera winning both the 100 (54.46) and 200 breaststroke (1:58.71), ranking him fifth and third in those events respectively.

Denison Invite: Big Red Win First Match With Emory

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KT Kustritz was instrumental in Denison’s win over Emory at the Denison Invite; Photo Courtesy: Linda Striggo

The Denison Invite pitted two of the best Division III teams in the country against each other in Denison and Emory. The Denison Big Red were able to get wins over the Eagles in both men’s and women’s meets in their home pool. The Denison men and Emory women were #1 in the latest CSCAA Division III poll and were on full display this weekend.

The Denison women captured a win in the meet’s first event: the 200 free relay with the quartet of Gabriella NutterCasey KirbyMaddie Hopkins and KT Kustritz claiming a win over the defending national champions to start the meet on a high note.

Denison had some big performances from senior breaststroker KT Kustritz, who helped them win both medley relays and also captured wins in the 100 (1:01.27) and 200 breaststrokes (2:16.12). Kustritz is the two-time reigning NCAA champion in both events and is hoping to end her Denison career with a national team title as the team has not won since 2001. Emory has won ten straight NCAA team titles on the women’s side, and even with a “loss” to Denison this weekend, they will still be tough to dethrone. They were able to get head-to-head wins out of the weekend from their backstrokers and distance swimmers as their depth will be tough to match come NCAAs in March. Sophomore Clio Hancock put up the top time in the nation with a 4:15 in the 400 IM, leading everyone in Division III by seven seconds.

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week: Nation-Leading Times Done at Denison Invite (Women)

  • 100 breast: KT Kustritz, Denison, 1:01.27
  • 200 breast: KT Kustritz, Denison, 2:16.12
  • 200 fly: Allie Dixon, Emory, 2:02.24
  • 400 IM: Clio Hancock, Emory, 4:15.59
  • 200 free relay: Nutter, Kirby, Hopkins, Kustritz, Denison, 1:31.69
  • 400 free relay: Nutter, Morrison, Culibrk, Hopkins, Denison, 3:22.06
  • 800 free relay: UerlingHancock, Daro, Turcan, Emory, 7:26.13
  • 200 medley relay: Kirby, Kustritz, Hopkins, Nutter, Denison, 1:40.61
  • 400 medley relay: Kirby, Kustritz, Hopkins, Nutter, Denison, 3:43.13

The Denison men, winners of three of the last four NCAA team titles, also were successful in taking down Division III powerhouse Emory, who last won the national title in 2017. The Big Red men were able to win with their impressive depth as it was actually Emory who came out with more nation leading times. Denison’s Bebe Wang won the 200 IM with a 1:47.45 as he leads Division III by nearly two seconds over teammate Noah Housekeeper. Wang also anchored Denison’s 200 free relay with a 19.83 as the team beat Emory by 0.17 with Kymani Senior (20.17), Matt McHugh (20.21) and Drake Horton (19.96) putting up the top time in Division III this year.

Emory did have some impressive individual swims from freshman Nicholas Goudie, who won both the 100 and 200 free with nation-leading times. Goudie is just a rookie but has already become a valuable piece for an Emory team that now has the top time in Division III in six events; Goudie being a part of four of those. He anchored both the 400 and 800 freestyle relays, out-dueling Wang, who anchored Denison in both events.

Sophomores Zachary Lorson and Patrick Pema also took wins in the 400 IM and 500 free respectively as both put up the top time in Division III in those events.

NCAA Swimming Meet of the Week: Nation-Leading Times Done at Denison Invite (Men)

  • 100 free: Nicholas Goudie, Emory, 43.88
  • 200 free: Nicholas Goudie, Emory, 1:37.07
  • 500 free: Patrick Pema, Emory, 4:23.08
  • 200 IM: Bebe Wang, Denison, 1:47.45
  • 400 IM: Zachary Lorson, Emory, 3:52.05
  • 200 free relay: Senior, McHugh, Horton, Wang, Denison, 1:20.17
  • 400 free relay: Ono, Lafave, Pema, Goudie, Emory, 2:57.97
  • 800 free relay: Pema, Stillman, De Groot, Goudie, Emory, 6:34.85