The Texas A&M men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams traveled to Kentucky for a conference dual meet that resulted in a close battle in the men’s meet. The Aggie men held on to beat Kentucky, 155-145, while the Texas A&M women had no trouble dispatching the Wildcats, 179-121.
Kentucky vs. Texas A&M Men’s Dual
The men’s meet featured two ties for first place including one in the first event, the 200 medley relay. Texas A&M had a big lead after the breaststroke leg, but a 21.88 from Kentucky’s Matt Roman got the Wildcats closer to the lead. Sean Gunn split 19.97 on the freestyle to Texas A&M’s 20.12 from Jacob Gonzales, and the result was matching times of 1:31.08 to give both teams 7.5 points. The Aggies got the advantage with a third-place finish (1:32.28) to get a two-point lead after the first event.
The second tie came in the men’s 50 free, where Gonzales and Gunn had to share the first-place points after both touched in 20.63. Five more points for the Aggies versus one for the Wildcats helped Texas A&M in that event as well.
Texas A&M won seven of the swimming events (including the two ties) and claimed both men’s diving events to help them get the team win. Freshman Sam Thornton was a big contributor for Texas A&M, winning both springboard events by sizeable margins. Brock Bonetti and Mauro Castillo Luna were double winners, with Bonetti winning both backstrokes in times of 48.87 and 1:47.10. For Castillo Luna, he dominated the breaststroke events, winning the 100 by almost two seconds with a 55.64 and the 200 by four seconds with a 2:00.11.
Texas A&M’s other winner was Mateo Gonzalez in the 200 IM. The freshman had a battle with freshman teammate Jose Martinez, with Martinez holding a six tenths lead after breaststroke. Gonzalez stormed through a 25.56 split on freestyle to win with a 1:51.32 to Martinez’s 1:51.34.
After tying with Gonzales in the 50 free, Gunn got the outright win in the 100 free with a 45.08 to Gonzales’ 45.40. Other two-time winners for Kentucky were Isaac Jones and Kyle Higgins.
Jones took an early lead in the 200 freestyle and never let it go, posting a 1:38.84 over the 1:39.74 by Texas A&M’s Martinez. Jones was back for the 500 free, and this time he was challenged by freshman teammate Bowen Anderson, who raced stroke for stroke with Jones. A 25.67 in the final 50 yards helped Jones pull away and win with a 4:32.64 to Anderson’s 4:33.28.
Higgins swept the butterfly events for the home crowd, starting with a dominating 1:47.94 in the 200 fly that helped him win by more than two seconds. He had to come from behind to win the 100 fly, as Texas A&M’s Gonzalez went out .13 faster at the halfway point but couldn’t turn it into a win. Higgins got the victory, 48.99 to 49.22.
Drew Aviotti was the other winner for the Kentucky men’s team, taking the 1000 free with a 9:15.72. The Wildcats closed out the meet with a win in the 400 free relay with a 3:02.47, thanks to a disqualification by Texas A&M that resulted in the close score at the end of the meet.
Kentucky vs. Texas A&M Women’s Dual
Though the women’s meet was not as close as the men’s meet, some of the times on the scoreboard made it a notable competition. Danielle Galyer, coming off a strong U.S. nationals that included a runner-up finish in the 200 backstroke, won that event with a very fast 1:56.85. It’s not her fastest of the year – that would be a 1:56.12 from last week – but it’s still one of the top performances of the season. That win came after a 54.13 in the 100 back, using a very strong final 50 yards to pull away from Texas A&M’s Beryl Gastaldello, who posted a 54.87.
Gastaldello, a likely member of France’s Olympic team in 2016 and the reigning SEC champion in the 100 fly, didn’t win any events, giving a couple of teammates a chance to shine. In the 100 fly, Gastaldello was third with a 55.24 behind the 55.03 by teammate Sarah Gibson and the 55.21 by Kentucky’s Haley McInerny.
The 100 fly victory was Gibson’s second of the day. She pulled away from Kentucky’s Kendal Case in the final 100 yards to win by almost three seconds with a 10:02.67.
Texas A&M freshman Sidney Pickrem won two events in her first collegiate meet. The Canadian Olympic hopeful started with a 1:49.50 in the 200 free, then concluded her meet with a 2:02.18. She traded the lead with teammate Bethany Galat through the race, but got to the finish .23 sooner.
Another of Texas A&M’s Olympic hopefuls is Ireland’s Sycerika McMahon, who showed some diversity by winning the 100 breast with a 1:02.25 then taking the 500 free win in 4:53.98. She was in the hunt for the 200 IM win in the early stages, but couldn’t hold the pace and finished third with a 2:05.13.
The Aggies swept the top three spots in the 50 free to help expand their overall lead. Lexie Lupton led the way with a 23.23, followed by a 24.01 by Kristin Malone and a 24.31 by Shayne Gregson. In the 100 free, Meredith Oliver posted the win for the Aggies with a 51.01, holding off Kentucky’s Geena Freriks and her 51.15.
Though McInerny was unable to pull off the win in the 100 fly, she was able to give Kentucky the first-place points in the 200 fly with a 2:01.39. Texas A&M’s Gibson made a move in the final 50 yards, but started the charge too late and placed second with a 2:02.82.
Kentucky’s other win in the women’s meet came from Kendra Crew with her 2:15.83 in the 200 breast to win by about two seconds. Texas A&M won both women’s relays, and won the women’s 1-meter diving with Madison Hudkins. Kentucky’s Rebecca Hamperian won the 3-meter springboard event with 300.68 points.