Texas A&M men place second at Orange Bowl Classic

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KEY LARGO, Florida --- The Texas A&M men’s swimming team highlighted its annual winter training trip with a runner-up effort in the 2019 Orange Bowl Swim Classic on Thursday at the Jacobs Aquatic Club.

The No. 10 Aggies scored 181 points to finish second behind fourth-ranked Michigan, who took the team crown with 333 points. Monmouth was third with 31 points.

“Michigan beat us pretty good on points, but it was a very competitive meet that should help us down the road,” Aggie head coach Jay Holmes said. “There were a bunch of competitive races and that’s a good sign. Their depth and front line talent did us in.”

The Aggies opened the meet with an impressive win in the 200-meter medley relay with the foursome of freshman Shaine Casas, junior Ben Walker, senior Angel Martinez and junior Adam Koster rallying to the win in 1:38.68. Michigan was second in 1:38.95. Facing a deficit entering the final leg, the veteran Koster turned in a final 50 freestyle split of 21.75 for the win.

Holmes singled out Koster’s victory in the 100-meter freestyle as the team’s best swim of the day. Koster, from Trophy Club, Texas, tallied the win in a meet record time of 49.58, which was nearly a half-second faster than the runner-up.

“That was the race of the day,” Holmes said. “He had a great race plan and was able to execute it to perfection. Getting the meet record was the icing on the cake.”

Koster completed a sweep of the sprint freestyle races with a victory in the 50-meter free with a time of 22.66, which was .11 fastest than the second-place finisher.

Casas, from McAllen, Texas, grabbed the Aggies’ other individual win with a victory in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 54.76 that was just .03 of a second off the meet record. Casas and Walker posted a 2-3 finish in the 200 IM with Casas turning in a time of 2:03.39, while Walker touched in 2:04.53.

Other Aggies with medalist finishes were Martinez in the 100 butterfly (3rd, 55.75), junior Mike Thibert in the 50 backstroke (3rd, 26.38) and Walker in the 100 breaststroke (3rd, 1:02.99).

The Aggies closed out the day with a runner-up effort in the 200 freestyle relay with the foursome of Koster, Thibert, freshman Clayton Bobo and sophomore transfer Mark Theall finishing in 1:31.68. Koster opened the race with a 22.57 split, which was faster than his winning time in the 50 free.