March 29, 2008
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - The Arizona men's swimming and diving team will make a run at its first national championship this evening after qualifying eight swimmers and a relay for tonight's finals on the last day of the championship meet. The Wildcats own a 91-point advantage over second-place Texas heading into the final events with 376 total points.
"It was a good morning for us," said head coach Frank Busch. "We got as many swimmers into the finals as any other team. We are going to fight to win tonight."
Freshman Cory Chitwood started the Wildcats off strong on the final day with a second-place finish in the 200 back. The first-year Wildcat swam a 1:41.34 and was narrowly touched out by top seed Patrick Schirk of Penn State (1:43.02). Sophomore Jake Tapp added more scoring potential with a 13th-place finish in the event. His prelim time of 1:42.97 was good enough to place him in the consolation heat tonight.
Sophomore Bryan O'Connor finished the 200 back with a time of 1:43.92. His 20th-place finish fell just outside of qualifying for the Cats, missing the final cut by under three-tenths of a second
The Cats cleaned up in the 100 free, advancing four swimmers to tonight's finals. Junior Nicolas Nilo will participate in the championship heat, tying for fourth in a time of 42.42, while senior Darian Townsend (Ninth, 42.52), sophomore Joel Greenshields (10th, 42.68) and sophomore Jordan Smith (15th, 43.22) all posted consolation heat times.
Sophomore Marcus Titus and Bart Steninger both qualified for tonight's consolation final in the 200 breast. The teammates swam to a tie for 14th place, with each touching in a time of 1:57.27. Senior Ivan Barnes, junior Andrew Callahan and sophomore Jack Brown all competed in the event, finishing 22nd, 25th and 31st, respectively.
The Wildcats closed out the final day of preliminaries with a second-place finish in the 400 free relay. The team of Albert Subirats, Nilo, Smith and Townsend swam the team event in a time of 2:51.78. The UA foursome set themselves up for a strong finish, just barely getting touched out by Cal's winning time of 2:51.73.
The finals for the last day of the NCAA championships will begin tonight at 7 p.m. PDT/MST.