|Nicolas Nilo ducks as the pool-celebration begins|
FEDERAL WAY, Wash.--A week after the Arizona women pulled in the school's first NCAA swimming championship, the Arizona men scored more than enough points on the third and final day of the national meet here to take home a second trophy as the best in the land.
Just like the women, UA's squad came up with a victory in the meet's final event, the 400 freestyle relay to punctuate the runaway, besting second-place Texas by 94 points to win in a blowout, 500 points to 406 by the Longhorns. Defending champion Auburn, winner of five straight since 2003, finished a distant fifth with 316.6 points.
Rounding out the top five were Pac-10 colleagues Stanford (344.4) at third and California (332.5) in fourth place. The Cats ended a stranglehold on the title by stopping a nine-year streak that saw either Texas (2000-02) or Auburn win the championship. Stanford won in 1998, otherwise that streak by the 'Horns or Tigers would go back to 1996.?
"I cannot begin to fathom how amazing tonight was," head coach Frank Busch said. "I am so proud of these men and their determination to make this an outstanding week for Wildcat Swimming and Diving.
"I'm so happy for this coaching staff. This championship shows all the hard work that they have put into this team.
"Finally, I'm proud to be apart of the University of Arizona and an athletic program that gives us the support to make this happen," Busch said.
Arizona got a sixth place finish from Jean Basson (14:54.54) to open the night in?Saturday's first event, the 1650 yard free.
Then the Cats came right back in the ensuing swim, the 200 backstroke, to pick up 26 points with a second-place finish by Cory Chitwood (1:41.34, school record) and a ninth-place swim by Jake Tapp (1:41.39) to win in the consolation finals.
Tapp's time would have been good enough for third had he been in the A-Final. That essentially gave Arizona the meet, with 415 points.
But, Nicolas Nilo (42.42) checked in at third in the 100 freestyle, Darian Townsend (42.44) won the consolation final for 9th place and Jordan Smith also put money in the bank with a 43.50 swim for 14th place, as did Joel Greenshields (43.52) in a tie for 15th. That was more than enough for the Cats.
In the 200 breaststroke UA got points from Bart Steninger (1:54.79, 9th place) and Marcus Titus (1:56.47, 10th), adding 16 more points.
UA did not have an entrant in the 200 yard butterfly or the platform diving, but came through with the team goods in the final relay. Albert Subarits, Darian Townsend,?Nilo and Greenshields swam a 2:49.01 to clip Auburn by four tenths of a second.
Overall throughout the three-day competition, Arizona's team won five events and had superb depth with 15 total swimmers to stockpile points with strong swims. Individual winners included Darian Townsend in the 200 IM and Albert Subarits in the 100 butterfly. The Cats also won the 400 medley relay (Subarits, Ivan barnes, Townsend and Greenshields), the 800 free relay (Jean Basson, Twonsend, Greenshields and Nilo), and the final relay.
The NCAA title is the second in a week for Arizona and its 17th in school history.?Softball has won eight, baseball three, women's golf two, and one apiece by the men's basketball and men's golf squads. UA also has three national synchronized swimming titles in the since defunct Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) competition.
Early in the season Busch said he felt the men had a legitimate shot at the title, but the feeling began to peak in recent weeks, when the team starting getting ready for the championships. "These guys are special, and I sense something special is about to happen," he said last week.
No kidding. After leading the men to a fourth place finish in 2004, a third place finish in 2005, second in 2006 and third in 2007, he ought to know.
Top 10 Team Finishers - 2008 NCAA Men's Swimming Championships
1. Arizona 500.
2. Texas 406
3. Stanford 344.4
4. California 332.5
5. Auburn 316.6
6. Michigan 271.5
7. Georgia 229
8. Florida 210
MEET THE CHAMPS AT MCKALE CENTER ON SUNDAY
Please join the UA swimming community and UA athleitcs in welcoming back the national champions. Coach Frank Busch and the menˇ?s swimming and diving team are expected to arrive at the Jim Click Hall of Champions on the north end of McKale via Legacy Lane at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The doors of the Jim Click Hall of Champions will open at 3:30 p.m. Parking is available in the Cherry Street garage for free.