AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas A&M men’s swimming and diving team rallied from 19-point deficit going into the final day to grab a runner-up finish at the 2008 Big 12 Championships at the Jamail Swimming Center on the University of Texas campus.
A couple of early meet miscues had the Aggies looking up at the University of Missouri after three days of action, but an all-around strong effort on Saturday pushed A&M past the Tigers, 778 - 775. The top-ranked Texas Longhorns defended its team crown with 1,129 points.
“We put ourselves in that position with some mistakes, but I was proud of the way we were able to battle back,” Aggie head coach Jay Holmes said. “Today was a slugfest. On the bus ride to the meet, we talked as a team about the things that we had to do to catch Missouri. Every single point that we scored was meaningful.”
Highlighting Texas A&M’s final day were school record efforts from sophomore Nikita Denisyako and senior Alejandro Jacobo. The school records were the second of the meet for both swimmers.
Denisyako, who broke the 200 IM school standard on day two, placed third in the 200-yard backstroke in a NCAA “B” cut time of 1:44.52, which broke the old record of 1:44.65 set by Patrick Kennedy in 2001. Also adding crucial points in the 200 back were junior Kyle Holland (6th, 1:48.58) and sophomore Jason Bergstrom (9th, 1:50.28).
Jacobo, who set the 100 breaststroke record on Friday, lowered his own school record in the 200 breaststroke with an “B” cut time of 1:57.84, while placing second in the race. Jacobo’s previous best of 1:58.11 came in his Big 12 victory last season. Senior Luke Chambless also logged a “B” cut time of 2:00.26 while placing fourth, and freshman Bryan Snowden placed sixth in 2:03.49.
Senior Ozzie Gardner led a strong Aggie effort in the 100 freestyle with a fifth-place finish in a lifetime best and “B” cut time of 43.76, which moved him to No. 4 on A&M’s top 10 list in the event. Junior Shawn Clarke and sophomore Casey Strange, who both logged “B” cuts in the prelims, placed seventh (44.61) and eighth (44.69), respectively. Adding to the point parade were a 10th place finish by junior Brad Raiford and a 12th place finish from freshman Boris Loncaric.
The Aggies put three swimmers in the Championship final of the 200 butterfly with 2007 Big 12 Champ Israel Duran taking third in 1:45.23, freshman Keenan Natyzak placing seventh in 1:50.31 and sophomore Tyler Welch grabbing eighth in 1:51.84.
In the 1,650 freestyle, senior Ryan Latone placed fifth in 15:56.30 and junior Tim Sablick was sixth in 16:21.82.
In platform diving, freshman Tim Lavers placed seventh with 249.55 points and sophomore Matt Platt took eighth with 208.45. Sophomore Henry Stevens and freshman Wesley Wright contributed ninth and 10th place efforts.
The Aggies closed the meet with a second-place finish in the 400 free relay with the foursome of Gardner, Denisyako, Clarke and Strange turning in a season-best and “B” cut time of 2:56.09.