Notre Dame places second in final invite of 2014
Observer Sports Staff | Sunday, December 7, 2014
After three weeks off, Notre Dame returned to the water this past weekend for their its consecutive appearance in the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Irish (3-2) placed a school-record nine NCAA B cuts on Saturday afternoon, and as a team, they scored 918 points, finishing second only to the host Hawkeyes.B cuts are the time standards established by USA Swimming and the NCAA that swimmers must surpass in order to be considered for qualification in the national championships.
Notre Dame jumped to a fast start on Friday, the first day of competition. Eight Irish swimmers placed in the top five, led by senior Zach Stephens who earned the first NCAA B cut of the season for Notre Dame in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:44.26. Stephens would go on to earn two additional B cuts on the weekend, including a time of 52.79 in the 100-yard breaststroke that would also earn him first place in Saturday’s preliminary round.
Stephens was not alone, however, in his attainment of qualifying times on the weekend. Seniors Jonathan Williamson, Patrick Olson and Cameron Miller, as well as sophomore Trent Jackson all secured return trips to Iowa City in March for the NCAA championships based on their performances Saturday.
Jackson earned his NCAA B cut in particularly dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon. He swam a 1:37.8 in the 200-yard freestyle, besting the qualifying time of 1:37.9 by just .1 of a second.
The relays also delivered strong performances for Notre Dame over the weekend, placing second in both the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay in the prelims Saturday. The medley team of freshman Robert Whitacre, Miller, Stephens and freshman Justin Plaschka earned a time of 1:28.73. The freestyle relay team of Jackson, senior Kevin Hughes, sophomore Reed Fujan and freshman Benjamin Jany clocked in at 6:34.27, just over a second ahead of third place.
On the diving boards, sophomore Joe Coumos once again led the Irish. He placed fourth Friday in the 3-meter competition. Coumos was joined in the top five by senior Michael Kreft. The two combined for another strong performance in the 1-meter event, placing first and fourth.
The Irish are finished swimming for 2014. They are slated to resume action after the start of the New Year with a dual meet against Michigan and Northwestern in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Jan. 10. Notre Dame will not return to Rolfs Aquatic Center until it hosts the Shamrock Invitational from Jan. 30-31, after nearly three months of swimming on the road.