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Swimming: Irish leave A&M in their wake

Joe Meixell | Monday, October 30, 2006

No. 17 Notre Dame made a big splash in its first dual meet of the season, beating Texas A&M 169-129 Saturday at the Student Recreation Natatorium in College Station.

The Irish won nine of the 16 events, and took three of the five scoring spots in 12 of the 14 non-relay events.

Sophomores Jeff Wood and Sam Pendergast, who each picked up two wins in their first dual meet performances for Notre Dame, led the Irish.

Wood, a transfer from Indiana, won the 100 and 200-meter backstroke. Pendergast, who didn’t compete in a meet during his freshman season, finished first in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke.

Irish assistant head coach Matt Tallman was not surprised at the breakout performances of his two sophomores.

“It was the reason they were brought here,” Tallman said. “It was expected, and we hope to see a lot more of it.”

Wood and Pendergast were also part of the victorious 200 medley-relay team that included seniors Tim Kegelman and Louis Cavadini. Kegelman also tallied a victory in the 100-meter butterfly.

Junior Jay Vanden Berg (1000-meter freestyle), senior Ted Brown (200-meter freestyle) and freshman John Lytle (100-meter freestyle) also picked up first-place finishes.

Lytle’s performance offered a preview of what Tallman hopes to be strong performances from the freshman class this season.

“Our freshman class is – top to bottom – one of the best classes we’ve ever had, and it’s the best class we’ve ever had on paper,” Tallman said.

“We’re just glad they dove in and turned what they do in practice into racing.”

Tallman also credited the team’s hard work in training as a contribution to Notre Dame’s performance on Saturday.

“The guys have worked real hard since they got on campus at the end of August, especially since we started official practice in September,” Tallman said. “They’ve been waiting for this day, and they put it all together.”

The Irish will return home Friday to face Purdue in their next dual meet at the Rolf’s Aquatic Center.