Oct. 1, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team (1-0) was nearly perfect on the opening day of the 2004-05 season, as the Irish failed to claim first place just twice (being disqualified on both occasions) in 23 events en route to a dominating 158-54 dual-meet victory against Evansville and an 86-point margin over the field in winning the Dennis Stark Relays Friday in the Rolfs Aquatic Center. In all, 30 of the 35 student-athletes on the Irish roster took first place at least once, as Notre Dame won its season-opening relay meet for the seventh time in eight years.
Intent to avoid a slow start to the dual-meet season akin to last season’s, Notre Dame was extremely dominant in defeating the Purple Aces in afternoon action. The Irish finished 1-2-3-4 in eight of the first nine events, sprinting out to a 143-28 advantage and clinching just their second 1-0 start in the last six years. Local product sophomore Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.), who registered just two race victories during his entire rookie campaign, paced Notre Dame by claiming first in a pair of events. He posted a time of 21.27 – just 0.36 seconds off his career best – in taking first in the 50-yard freestyle. The Riley High School graduate then came back to claim first place in the 100 free (47.60).
Among the other high points in the dual meet was the strong performance of Notre Dame’s diving corps. Rookie Sam Stoner (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso H.S.) was victorious in his first collegiate meet, taking first off the one-meter board with a score of 271.20. All five Irish divers finished ahead of Evansville’s competitors in that event. Notre Dame claimed the top four spots off the three-meter board, as sophomore Scott Coyle (Indianapolis, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern H.S.) notched a career-best score of 294.83 to beat the field by more than 50 points.
Two other Notre Dame freshmen also were winners in their debuts. Drew MacKay (Georgetown, Grand Cayman/Cayman Prep & H.S.), who represented his native Cayman Islands in the Athens Olympics in August, won the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:54.26, while Graham Parker (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill H.S. East) was first in the final individual event, the 200-yard breaststroke, with a time of 2:13.68.
Sophomore Ted Brown (Kokomo, Ind./Western H.S.) also was impressive against Evansville. He beat the field – which included last year’s BIG EAST champion in the event – by more than five seconds in the first race of the season, claiming first in an exhibition heat of the 400 IM with a time of 4:04.42. Brown came back later to win the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:53.53.
Senior captain Matt Bertke (Edgewood, Ky./Covington Catholic H.S.) led off the meet with a win in the 200 freestyle (1:43.94), while other winners for the Irish were school recordholder junior Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) in the 200 back (1:52.01) and junior Patrick Davis (Clearwater, Fla./Jesuit H.S.) in the 500 free (4:42.03).
Notre Dame finished with 220 points in the Dennis Stark Relays, while Evansville finished second in the six-team field with 134 points.
Eight Irish competitors were on multiple victorious teams in the Dennis Stark Relays, with sophomore Alan Carter (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park H.S.) being the lone swimmer in the meet claiming three titles. He swam the second leg in the first relay of the meet, the 200 freestyle, combining with sophomore Nick Fanslau (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn H.S.), Drew Pittman (Williamsburg, Va./Lafayette H.S.), and Cavadini to begin a string of five consecutive Irish first-place finishes with a time of 1:26.23. Carter, who finished 12th at the USA Swimming National Championships in the 100 back over the summer, led off the 400 backstroke relay that would defeat the field by nine seconds (3:38.75), teaming with junior Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) and sophomores Brian Freeman (Sanger, Calif./Immanuel H.S.), and Justin Barber (Carson City, Nev./Carson H.S.) in that endeavor. In the final event of the night – the 400 free relay, which also counted in the scoring of the dual meet – Carter followed Bertke and senior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.) into the pool, and Brown anchored the team, which finished in 3:13.15.
Bertke, Brown, Fanslau, Freeman, Moisan, and sophomores David Hochstetler (Bremen, Ind./Bremen Senior H.S.) and Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) were double winners in the relay meet. Moisan, Brown, and Bertke followed MacKay into the pool in helping the Irish to a victory by more than five seconds in the 400 medley relay (3:33.67). The third race of the meet was even more lopsided, as Freeman, junior Bryan Guarnier (Queensbury, N.Y./Glen Falls H.S.), junior Patrick Heffernan (Norcross, Ga./Norcross H.S.), and Davis topped the field by more than 14.5 seconds in the 800 free relay.
The winning streak continued with Bauman, Parker, Hochstetler, and junior Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) won by nearly five seconds with a time of 3:42.54 in the 400 individual medley relay, in which each participant swims a 100-yard IM.
Junior Chris Barnes (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier H.S.), freshman Rob Seery (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City H.S.), Zeches, junior Patrick O’Berry (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton H.S.), and Hochstetler captured the next unique relay, the 500-yard crescendo, in which five freestyle legs of 50, 100, 200, 100, and 50 yards are swum.
The 400 breaststroke relay saw rookie Eric Swenson (Scotch Plains, N.J./St. Joseph H.S.), junior Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.) – who had the top time in the 200 breast against Evansville in an exhibition swim – Fanslau, and sophomore Brendan Whalen (Longwood, Fla./Trinity Preparatory School) posted a time of 4:10.49 that was almost 22 seconds faster than the rest of the field.
Freshman Jay Vanden Berg (Holland, Mich./Southfield Christian School) and Zeches registered the largest margin of victory in the meet, swimming 500 yards each to finish the 1,000 freestyle relay in 9:30.32. The second-place team, from Wisconsin-Milwaukee, ended up more than 33 seconds behind and had more than 50 yards remaining when Zeches touched the wall to end his race.
Notre Dame’s strong diving continued in the relay meet, as they claimed the top two spots in both events. Stoner and fellow freshman Chris Kane (San Antonio, Texas/Ronald Reagan H.S.) were first in the three-meter synchronized diving competition with a score of 206.65 (for five dives) before finishing second to teammates Coyle and rookie Steven Crowe (Brockport, N.Y./Brockport H.S.) in the one-meter diving relay, in which both competitors took three dives and combined their scores. Coyle and Crowed had a score of 268.30 in that event.
Notre Dame, last year’s league runner-up, also began its quest for the 2005 BIG EAST Conference title on Friday, as 14 of its student-athletes posted automatic qualifying times for the league championships on the opening day of competition. Leading the way were Brown (400 IM, 200 fly) and Coyle (1-meter, 3-meter), who both qualified in two events, while others who can already plan on being in East Meadow, N.Y., from Feb. 17-19 are Lutkus (400 IM), Cavadini (50 free), Randolph (50 free), MacKay (200 IM), Heffernan (200 fly), Zeches (200 fly), Bauman (200 back), Shomberger (200 back), Grenda (200 breast), Kegelman (100 fly), Stoner (1-meter diving), and Crowe (1-meter diving). In addition, nine other Irish competitors notched BIG EAST “B” times.
It will be nearly a month before the Irish jump back into the pool for another competitive meet, as they return to action on Oct. 29 for a dual meet at Utah at 5 p.m. (MDT) in Salt Lake City. The following day will see Notre Dame face Brigham Young in Provo.