Notre Dame Men Win Dennis Stark Relays, Women Take Second

Photo Credit: Notre Dame Athletics

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, October 11. The University of Notre Dame swimming and diving teams honored former head coach Dennis Stark on Friday night by finishing first (men) and second (women) at the 50th annual Dennis Stark Relays. The Fighting Irish scored 240 points to win the men’s meet, while Ohio State edged Notre Dame for the win on the women’s side, 194 points to 184.

Notre Dame Men’s Press Release

University of Notre Dame head coach Matt Tallman chalked up his first official “W” in the record books Friday, as the Irish men’s swimming and diving team won the 50th annual Dennis Stark Relay at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. The Irish won every event and scored 240 points between swimming and diving.

“We swam pretty well. I thought the guys stepped up very nicely. We had talked about doing things fundamentally right at this meet,” Tallman says. “Even though they are beat up from the out-of-water practices we’ve had this past month, they stepped up and the coaches definitely had some sparks of good things to see throughout the rest of the year.”

In the first event of the night, seniors Zachary Stevens and Patrick Olson teamed up with freshmen Gabe Ostler and Joseph Krause in the 200 free relay. Krause, a Michigan state record holder in the 50 free, anchored the 4-man team to a first place finish with his 20.99 split. Olson wasn’t far behind the freshman phenom with his own 20.85 split.

In the 400 medley relay an all-senior lineup of Bogac Ayhan, Cameron Miller, Jonathan Williamson and Kevin Hughes cruised past the Tigers, touching the wall in 3:22.93.

In one of the closer races of the evening, the Irish quartet of Michael Hudspith, Reed Fujan, John Nappi and Patrick Murphy came in first in the 800 free relay, posting a 6:53.15 mark. Hudspith got the team off to an early lead with his 1:41.32 lead leg, while Murphy wrapped things up for the Irish with his 1:44.23 split.

In the first non-traditional relay of the evening – the 400 IM Relay – another all-senior lineup featuring Stephens, Olson, Matthew DeBlasio and Miller out-swam two Tigers teams to finish in 3:28.92.

In the 300-yard stroke relays, Williamson, Ayhan and Kevin Bradley touched in first in butterfly (2:32.35), Tom Anderson, Ostler and Nappi finished the backstroke race in 2:35.79; and Michael Schiffer, Andrew Jensen and Olson clocked in at 2:55.71 in breaststroke.

In the 2×500 free relay, it was a battle of underclassmen vs. upperclassmen, as Joseph Petrone and Richard Mannix cruised to first in 9:34.17, while DeBlasio and Murphy finished second in 9:37.38.

In the 200-yard medley 4×50 relay, Ayhan, Miller, Stephens and Hughes touched the wall in 1:31.93. Hudspith, Bradley, Krause and Fujan finished the 400 free 4×100 race in 3:05.28, firmly in first.

Over on the diving boards, the two events of the night were the 1-meter relay and 3-meter synchronized diving. Senior Nick Nemetz enjoyed the sense of nostalgia, saying “It’s just a fun time, and an opportunity to do synchro with your friends. It’s the most amount of time in the season where you train without competing at all, so it’s nice to have everything we go over in practice come together in a meet.”

Nemetz and fellow senior Michael Kreft combined for a score of 268.95 in the 3-meter synchro, finishing third behind the other Irish diving duos of Ted Wagner and Peter Myers – first with 314.05 – and Joe Coumos and John Lichtenstein, second with 283.80.

“This is our last, first meet ever; it’s been a long road to get here, but this has been the first meet of the year for all four years and it’s definitely cool to finish the same as we started,” adds in Kreft when talking about the meet.

Coumos and Lichtenstein came in first in the 1-meter relay with a joint score of 672.14. In individual scoring, Coumos led the way with his 343.57 mark while Nemetz had the second-best score with his 334.50 tally.

The Irish divers are next in action October 17th, when they travel to Atlanta, Georgia for a dual diving meet with ACC foe Georgia Tech and SEC rival Auburn. The Irish team will be back on the blocks at Rolfs November 1st when they host Purdue.

Notre Dame Women’s Press Release

One day after former head coach Dennis Stark’s 91st birthday, Notre Dame honored the patriarch of the University of Notre Dame swimming and diving program with the 50th annual Dennis Stark Relays. The Irish women’s swimming and diving team finished in second place (184 points) behind first-place Ohio State (194 points), and defeated Illinois State (138 points) and Olivet Nazarene (92 points). Notre Dame claimed victory in the 300 fly relay, 1-meter diving relay and 3-meter synchronized diving events while collecting eight runner-up finishes.

American record-holder Emma Reaney teamed with Courtney Whyte and Bridget Casey to highlight the meet for the Irish, winning the 300 fly relay in 2:48.49. Reaney powered through the second leg of the relay, giving Casey and the Irish the lead. Casey sealed the victory for Notre Dame, out-touching Ohio State at the wall to win the event.

“I had already done two races before that so I was a little tired,” said Casey. “I am a butterfly swimmer and the 200 fly is my best event so I couldn’t let her (the Ohio State swimmer) win. I was really excited that I could get the first win for the team. I put my head down and finished the race.”

Notre Dame had 15 swimmers and divers participate in at least one winning or second-place relay over the course of the meet. Interim head coach Tim Welsh was pleased with what he saw from the team.

“First, the opening tribute to Dennis was just spectacular,” said Welsh. “Fighting Irish Digital Media always does a superb job and that video was great. What was exciting about this afternoon for us was there was an awful lot of racing in a very short time. The total time of the meet was shorter than an afternoon practice and people swam three, four or five times with all-out effort every time. It was good competition and a good training environment. Relays are team events and have a lot of spirit to them. We love the commitment to racing.”

The Irish duo of Lindsey Streepey and Emma Gaboury swept the 1-meter diving relay and the 3-meter synchronized diving events, both of which are unique for the collegiate season.

“This is a really fun meet because we don’t normally get to do this, especially on the one meter where you are diving with someone else and relying on them,” said Streepey. “Three meters is also really fun because it is synchronized and Emma and I only do it in the summer at Senior Nationals. It is a really relaxing way to get into the season.”

Junior Genevieve Bradford and sophomore Katie Miller led the Irish with four runner-up showings apiece while Casey added an additional two runner-up finishes to her gold-medal performance in the 300 fly relay.

“We had a tough week of training and that definitely played a part in the meet, but we came together and toughed it out,” said Bradford. “I think we did well all things considered. It was a good meet.”

The Irish will have to balance their training with their studies as midterms start next week before the team heads south for some top competition.
“Each week has been a little more challenging for us. Next week athletically is a huge challenge as we are on the road facing two teams Friday and two teams Saturday,” said Welsh. “Academically next week is a midterm week so it is a big challenge. We have seen over the past couple of weeks that we are tougher as we go on and we appreciate the challenge next week will bring.”

The Irish head to Atlanta, Georgia and Auburn, Alabama next weekend for two meets. On October 17th, the Irish will swim against host Georgia Tech and South Carolina beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET. The following day the Irish will take on host Auburn and Vanderbilt at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Results: Dennis Stark Relays

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Author: Emily Sampl

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Emily Sampl, an editorial assistant for Swimming World Magazine, is a freelance writer for USA Swimming and an assistant coach at Boulder High School and Boulder Elks Swim Team in Colorado. Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and master's degree in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

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