Feb. 21, 2004
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. – Sophomore Steve Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Pa./Courtland H.S.) set the University record by .01 seconds in the 200-yard backstroke, as the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team qualified more swimmers for Saturday’s finals, 13, than any other team in the BIG EAST Championships in the Nassau County Aquatic Center. Due to the fact that just three of those student-athletes will be competing in the championship finals, the Irish appear to be in a fight with Virginia Tech for second place in the meet.
Shomberger, who was eighth in last year’s BIG EAST Championships, qualified third in the 200 back with a time of 1:48.97. The previous school record of 1:48.98 was set by Shomberger’s classmate, Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), in this season’s Notre Dame Invitational. Bauman qualified fourth on Saturday in a time of 1:49.02, which stands as the third-quickest mark in Irish history. He was 12th in the event a year ago.
Sophomore Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum H.S.) is the only other Irish swimmer who advanced to the championship finals Saturday. His career-best time of 2:03.76 in the 200 breaststroke was good enough to seed him sixth.
After two days of competition, seven-time defending champion Pittsburgh held the lead with 534 points, with Notre Dame second with 422 and Virginia Tech next with 400.50. Though the Irish have more total qualifiers for Saturday evening, both the Panthers and Hokies hold an advantage in the number of swimmers in championship finals. Pittsburgh has 11 total swims, with all but two coming in the highest-scoring finals. Virginia Tech also has 11 swims, with six in the championship finals.
Sophomore Patrick Heffernan (Norcross, Ga./Norcross H.S.) nearly was the fourth Irish competitor to reach the championship finals on Saturday. He tied for eighth with a season-best time of 1:52.05 in the 200 fly, but lost a swim-off to Seton Hall’s TJ Johnson despite improving his speed and finishing in 1:51.76. Johnson posted a 1:51.35, and Heffernan was relegated to the consolation final, along with three of his teammates: freshman Tim Kegelman (Yorktown, Va./Tabb H.S.), sophomore Patrick O’Berry (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton H.S.), and senior Brian Coughlan (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo H.S.). Kegelman, who already set Notre Dame records in the 200 IM and 100 fly during the meet, was 10th with a time of 1:52.09, while O’Berry came in 13th in 1:53.46, and Coughlan notched a career-best mark of 1:53.64 in qualifying 15th.
Three Irish competitors will be in the consolation final of the 100 freestyle. Senior co-captain Matt Obringer (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School) led the way in the preliminaries with a season-best 10th-place time of 45.75. Right behind him was junior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) in 45.81. Junior Drew Pittman (Williamsburg, Va./Lafayette H.S.) tied for 16th with a time of 46.23, but then edged Rutgers’ Ryan Campbell by .05 seconds in a swim-off, notching a career-best time of 45.83.
Sophomore Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.), who became the first Irish student-athlete to win an event in the BIG EAST meet since 2000 with a victory in the 400 IM on Friday, missed the championship final of the 200 breaststroke by .01 seconds, taking ninth in a career-best 2:04.13. Senior co-captain Josh Dermott (El Dorado Hills, Calif./Rio Americano H.S.) also will be in that race after qualifying 14th in 2:05.11.
A pair of freshmen – Brian Freeman (Sanger, Calif./Immanuel H.S.) and Alan Carter (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park H.S.) – will be in the consolation final of the 200 back. Freeman was 12th with a time of 1:50.95, while Carter took the next spot in 1:51.29.
In the 100 free, freshman Louis Cavadini (South Bend, Ind./Riley H.S.) finished 19th with a time of 46.41, while sophomore Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) was 20th in 46.61.
Junior David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male H.S.) missed the consolation final of the 200 breast by .21 seconds, taking 18th in 2:06.19, a season-best time. Freshman Nick Fanslau (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn H.S.) was 27th in 2:10.96.
Freshman Chris Zeches (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) was 18th in the 200 back with a time of 1:53.42.
Saturday evening will feature not only the finals of the four races that had morning preliminaries, but also timed finals of the 1650 freestyle and the 400 free relay. Each individual swimming race (except the 1650 free) has a final featuring the top eight competitors from prelims, as well as a consolation final featuring the next eight. Anyone swimming at night scores points for his team. All teams with at least four student-athletes qualified for the meet may field one relay team in every race. Those are contested only at night and in two heats: one with the teams holding the top six times from the regular season and one with all other teams.