Texas Men and Women Crush Relays on Opening Night of Minnesota Invite; Freshman Luke Hobson Splits 1:31.34

drew-kibler, university of texas
Texas' Drew Kibler swam on two winning relays on night one at the Minnesota Invitational -- Drew Kibler. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Texas Men and Women Crush Relays on Opening Night of Minnesota Invite; Freshman Luke Hobson Splits 1:31.34

The Texas men, last year’s NCAA team champions for the fifth time in the previous six championships, flexed some serious depth during the first evening of the Minnesota Invitational. The Longhorns’ stars were solid, but plenty of unheralded swimmers posted performances that reminded the college swimming world why Texas has been so dominant for so long on the college level.

In the first men’s event of the meet, the 200 medley relay, Texas actually went 1-2, with the listed “B” team edging out the “A” group by two hundredths. The team of Cameron Auchinachie (20.63), Charlie Scheinfeld (20.63), Zachary Van Zandt (20.17) and Drew Kibler (18.96) won in 1:23.33, while the “A” group of Anthony Grimm (20.98), Caspar Corbeau (23.31), Alvin Jiang (20.28) and Danny Krueger (18.78) was just behind at 1:23.35.

Both of those times would have barely missed out on the top eight at last year’s NCAA Championships, but the Longhorns always peak in March and should be poised to be much quicker when the top teams meet in Atlanta. Moreover, two of the swimmers on the Longhorns’ winning squad, Scheinfeld and Van Zandt, were not even members of Texas’ squad sent to the national meet last year, such is the depth of Eddie Reese’s squad. The Longhorns are facing off with top rival Cal in a midseason invite for the first time since the two programs established themselves as the dominant forces of college swimming a decade ago.

Michigan finished third with Wyatt Davis (21.24), Will Chan (23.30), Gal Cohen Groumi (20.21) and Cam Peel (18.82), the Wolverines’ time of 1:23.47 ending up just behind the two Texas groups. Cal, meanwhile, will have some work to do in this relay after finishing fourth in 1:24.28 with Daniel CarrLiam BellRobin Hanson and Bjorn Seeliger.

Shortly after, the Texas men won again in the men’s 800 free relay, posting a time of 6:10.14 that beat all but the top two squads at last year’s NCAAs. Kibler (1:33.25), Coby Carrozza (1:32.17), Peter Larson (1:32.92) and Carson Foster (1:31.80) swam a time of 6:10.14, finishing about two seconds ahead of a Michigan squad featuring swimmers who were U.S. Olympians this year (along with Kibler). Patrick Callan led off in 1:32.96, finishing ahead of Kibler, while Kibler’s former Carmel teammate Jake Mitchell split 1:32.17 before Davis and Cohen Groumi brought the Wolverines home in 6:11.02. That is a huge jump from Michigan’s 11th-place finish at last year’s NCAAs, when the group clocked 6:15.54.

Third place went to another Texas B-team, this time the group of Auchinachie, Luke Hobson, Corbeau and David Johnston. That group’s time of 6:11.72 beat all but four A-teams at NCAAs last year. Corbeau, mostly known as a breaststroker, split 1:32.30, while Hobson, a freshman from Reno, Nevada, had the fastest split of the entire race at 1:31.34. Hobson’s flat-start lifetime best stands at 1:35.09, set at a high school meet this past May, so he has already made a huge jump during his early days in Austin.

Cal, last year’s NCAA runnerup in this event, ended up fifth, although it’s worth noting that star fifth-year swimmer Trenton Julian was not part of the Bears’ lineup.

On the women’s side, Texas was just as dominant, posting two relays that would have placed in the top three at last year’s NCAA Championships. The Longhorns won the women’s 200 medley relay as the team of Julia Cook (24.06), Anna Elendt (26.04), Olivia Bray (22.17) and Bridget Semenuk (21.99) swam a time of 1:34.26. Texas was seventh in the event at last year’s meet with Cook, Elendt and Bray swimming the opening three legs, but the time tonight would have placed them third.

Michigan finished second with Olympic gold medalist Maggie MacNeil leading off in a blistering 23.06, and she was followed by Letitia SimOlivia Carter and Lindsay Flynn. Cal took third in 1:34.93 with Isabelle StaddenEma RajicIsabel Ivey and Elise Garcia, and Garcia provided the fireworks for the Golden Bears as she came home in 21.55.

In the women’s 800 free relay, Texas’ Kelly Pash (1:43.83), Kyla Leibel (1:44.78), Bray (1:43.79) and Cook (1:44.54) posted a time of 6:56.94, faster than any time from last year’s national championships except for first-place Virginia. Cal’s Ayla SpitzRobin Neumann, Ivey and Alicia Wilson also got under 7:00 with a second-place time of 6:59.71 as Ivey blasted a 1:43.16 split, and Wisconsin’s Abby Carlson, Phoebe Bacon, Mackenzie McConagha and Lillie Hosack placed third in 7:02.16. Bacon, an Olympic finalist earlier this year in the 200 back, split 1:44.81 to lead the way for the Badgers.

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Mark Slocum
8 months ago

Texas and Cal swam against each other at the 2019 Minnesota Invite, btw.