AUSTIN, Texas, December 2. THE University of Texas wrapped up competition at its Texas Invitational with a bang, as the Longhorns secured five NCAA automatic-qualifying berths during the final session Saturday evening at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Texas placed third with 551 points, while Arizona captured the three-day event with 859 points. Stanford placed second with 763 points. The top-ranked Texas men completed the sixth and final session of its Texas Invitational with a pair of NCAA automatic-qualifying performances. The Longhorns placed second with 696.50 points while Arizona took top honors with 787 points. Stanford placed third with 552 points.
In men's action, the Texas divers saved their best performances of the meet for last, as the Longhorn duo of junior Brian Smith (Carrollton, Texas) and freshman Mike Wong (Cerritos, Calif.) took first and second in the platform-diving event. Smith took top honors with 330.85 points, and Wong took second with 318.50 points.
Sophomore Michael Klueh (Evansville, Ind.) registered an impressive showing in the 1,650-yard freestyle, taking second in the event in 14:55.08. Klueh's swim fell under the NCAA automatic-qualifying standard by over 10 seconds.
Freshman Ricky Berens (Charlotte, N.C.) scored a third-place finish in the 200 butterfly, as the top three finishers posted the three fastest times in the country. Berens automatically qualified for participation at the 2007 NCAA Championships in 1:44.54, topping the NCAA "A" cut standard of 1:44.93.
Two Longhorns added NCAA "B" cut swims in the 200 backstroke. Junior Caleb McDermott (Canyon Lake, Texas) placed fourth in 1:46.39, and in the "B" final, senior Tommy Sacco (Dallas, Texas) took third in 1:47.07.
Junior Matt Lowe (Minot, N.D.) added an eighth-place showing in the 200 breaststroke in 2:02.38. World-record holder and former Longhorn Brendan Hansen claimed the event in 1:55.58. Junior Matt McGinnis (Raleigh, N.C.) contributed an eighth-place finish in the 100 freestyle, touching the wall in 44.28 for a NCAA provisional-qualifying mark.
Finally, the UT 400 freestyle relay quartet of McGinnis, freshman Dave Walters (Yorktown, Va.), McDermott and Berens placed third in 2:58.46, good for another NCAA provisional-qualifying mark.
"Overall, I'm really pleased with the entire team effort," said UT coach Kim Brackin. "Everybody – every single person – had a great swim, from lifetime bests to ‘B' cuts to automatic cuts. The No. 1 thing we've gotten out of this meet is confidence and incentive to continue working hard through what is always a stressful time with upcoming finals. We have to think of new challenges for this team because they have proven they can handle them."
Senior Connie Brown set a new personal best in the 100-yard freestyle and scored an automatic NCAA bid with a second-place swim. Brown (Andover, Mass.) clocked 49.18 in the event, falling under the NCAA "A" cut standard by over three tenths of a second to wrap up an impressive three-day performance at the Texas Invitational.
Senior Katie Robinson (Dillsboro, Ind.) took third in a loaded 200 butterfly field with a NCAA automatic-qualifying mark of 1:58.08. The time, a new personal best for Robinson, fell nearly one second below the NCAA "A" cut standard of 1:58.99.
The 200 breaststroke proved to be kind to the Longhorns, where Texas secured three NCAA automatic-qualifying bids. Senior Elizabeth Tinnon (Bowling Green, Ky.), who rewrote her school 100 breaststroke record during in day two's finals, took third in 2:11.86. Sophomore Alexi Spann (Austin, Texas), who notched a NCAA automatic bid during the Saturday morning preliminary-round session, lowered her time to 2:12.75 in the finals for fifth place. Senior Leah Avilla (Livermore, Calif.) took sixth in 2:13.61 while also tallying a NCAA automatic bid.
Junior Macie Garrett (Nashville, Tenn.) added a NCAA provisional-qualifying performance in the 1,650 freestyle, taking eighth in 16:40.20. Sophomores Lindsay Voyles (Austin, Texas) and Rebecca Orr (Austin, Texas) landed NCAA "B" cut times in the "C" final of the 200 backstroke. Voyles took the event in 2:00.89 and Orr followed in second at 2:00.92.
Sophomore Kara-Jayne Salamone (Cooper City, Fla.) placed second in the 19-diver platform-diving event with a score of 261.50. Finally, the 400 freestyle relay quartet of Brown, senior Elaine Ferritto (Columbus, Ohio), freshman Alex Basso (Houston, Texas) and Robinson took fifth in 3:21.64, topping the NCAA "B" cut mark of 3:24.91.