Never underestimate the Texas Longhorns.
With California looking like a lock with an 18.5-point lead going into the third and final day, Texas came back behind nine top-eight finishes to win its tenth NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships Sunday at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.
Texas overtook the Golden Bears and won with 500 points. California placed second with 469.5 points and Arizona placed third with 387 points.
The NCAA team title is the Longhorns’ first since 2002 and makes head coach Eddie Reese the first coach in NCAA Division I men’s swimming and diving history to win NCAA team titles in four separate decades.
Reese now has victories in 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2010. The win also allowed Reese to break a tie with former Southern California head coach Peter Daland to move into sole possession of second-place in the career men’s title list behind Ohio State’s Mike Peppe., who won 11.
Texas took a 365-353.5 lead after collecting 19 points in the 200 backstroke. Freshman Austin Surhoff placed sixth overall in 1:41.13. Senior Hill Taylor took second in the 200 backstroke consolation final in 1:42.58. Freshman Cole Cragin took seventh in 1:42.74, and junior Bryan Collins placed eighth in 1:43.10.
Surhoff had Twittered on Saturday night that “for every single one of us the most important day of our swimming career is tomorrow; for me it is the most important day of my life.”
California’s Nathan Adrian captured the 100 freestyle in 41.50, but the Longhorns’ depth in the event enabled Cal to gain only 1 point in the event. Sophomore Jimmy Feigen took second for a second consecutive year in 41.91, and senior Dave Walters took eighth in 42.96. Junior Scott Jostes tied with Cal’s Josh Daniels in the consolation final at 42.82. Senior Ben Van Roekel took sixth in 43.25.
Texas stretched its lead over California to 433-408.5 after picking up 29 points in the 200 breaststroke. Junior Scott Spann, who broke Brendan Hansen’s school record in the event during the preliminary round, took a close second in 1:53.21. Arizona’s Clark Burckle won the event in 1:53.19. UT sophomore Eric Friedland nailed down his first individual All-America finish by taking seventh in 1:54.80.
Senior Ricky Berens added five points in the 200 butterfly consolation final where he took fourth in 1:43.89. Cal’s 200 butterfly performances sliced the Texas lead to 438-429.5, but UT divers Matt Cooper and Drew Livingston extended the lead considerably. Cooper placed third with 462.30 points, and Livingston took seventh with 382.80 points. The diving points pushed the Texas lead out to 466-429.5.
Texas wrapped up the meet by taking second in the 400 freestyle relay, as Walters, Feigen, Jostes and Berens finished in 2:49.90.
Other champions were Arizona’s Clark Burckle in the 200 breaststroke in 1:53.19; Stanford’s Chad La Tourette in the 1,650 in a pool record 14:42.87; and Arizona’s Cory Chitwood in the 200 backstroke in 1:39.29.
The meet wasn’t without a few shockers.
Florida’s Shaune Fraser, seeded second going into finals, defended his title in the 200 butterfly when initial winner Georgia’s Mark Dylla was disqualified for a one-handed touch at the wall. Dylla was clocked in 1:41.14. Fraser’s time was 1:41.45.
Auburn’s Christopher Fox false started in the 400 free relay, causing a disqualification for Auburn and a 10-minute break for the rest of the swimmers that all swam an all out 50.
After returning to the blocks, California’s Graeme Moore (43.31), Josh Daniels (42.01), Tom Shields (42.48) and Nathan Adrian (40.98) won with a 2:48.78. The performance broke the pool facility record of 2:50.85 set by Auburn during prelims.
Texas’ Dave Walters (42.33), Jimmy Feigen (42.01), Scott Jostes (42.35) and Ricky Berens (43.21) took second in 2:49.90 after leading through the first three legs. Texas just had to have a clean race to hold on to the team title.
Another disappointment was during morning prelims when Cal suffered a huge setback when Sean Mahoney was disqualified for a Dolphin kick.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org