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Young squad overtakes Big East rival Pittsburgh

Megan Golden | Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Irish hit the road for the first time this season, picking up their third victory 193-107 at Big East rival Pittsburgh on Friday.

Prior to Notre Dame’s trip to Pittsburgh (1-2), Irish coach Tim Welsh said he believed his team could win as long as the freshmen played a role in the victory, and the freshmen did in fact play a large part in Notre Dame’s third win of the season.

The Irish (3-1) won 12 events, and a member of the freshman class was awarded gold in seven of those events.

“It shows that we can come out and win the events that we want to win in order to take over the meet and not have to worry so much about the points we have to get,” Irish junior and co-captain Chris Johnson said. “We can switch up the lineup a lot and put people in races in which they don’t normally get to swim in when the freshmen are racking up points for us like that.”

Irish freshman Cameron Miller tied Johnson for gold in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 56.71. Miller also earned gold in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Johnson earned a spot in the Notre Dame record books last season with a 55.63 time in the 100-yard breaststroke in the Big East championships. Irish senior co-captain Marshall Sherman said the team was impressed by Miller’s performance.

“That was huge. He tied with Chris Johnson,” Sherman said. “That’s huge for a freshman to come in and give us [a great finish]. [Johnson] was our top performer last year. It’s great to have another breaststroker to come in and have a one-two punch for us.”

Johnson shied away from any praise for his performance and credited the team’s success to the work ethic of the freshman class.

“It shows that [the freshmen are] working, not just Cameron but all of them, and they’re ready to come out for the race,” he said. “[Cameron and I] could see each other side by side, but it’s just a coincidence that we tied.”

Notre Dame freshman diver Michael Kreft earned gold in two events Friday, placing first in both the one-meter and three-meter dives.

Irish junior Kevin Overholt, who has been rehabbing an injured shoulder, won two gold medals, finishing first in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races.

The meet was held at Trees Hall, the site of the 2012 Big East championships. Sherman said a dominant performance from the entire Irish squad and gold medals from five different freshmen sparked Notre Dame’s confidence and increased the future expectations of this high-energy squad.

“[Freshmen] always give us a close meet,” he said. “I think the whole team was surprised [about their performance],” Sherman said. “The coaches tried to get us pumped up and excited for the meet, being our first Big East meet. It was a great confidence boost for us. We won nearly every event, but that [gives us] great signs going forward.”

The Irish will return to action Friday against Purdue at 6 p.m. at the Boilermaker Aquatic Center.