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ND MEN’S SWIMMING: Irish barely scrape by pesky Spartans

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 14, 2005

The Irish defeated Michigan State in a nail-biter Friday by a score of 122.5-120.5 to improve their record to 3-1. No. 18 Notre Dame held off the Spartans in the last race for a two-point victory.

After such a close win, Notre Dame’s confidence is rising.

“We have the ability to sense urgency, and with that raise the bar in order to come out with a win,” Irish swimmer Ted Brown said.

Brown certainly did his part to raise the bar by recording first-place finishes for the fourth and fifth time this season. His wins came in the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle, with times of 4:34.89 and 9:27.33 respectively.

Other Irish swimmers with big days were captain Patrick Hefernan, who took first in the 200-yard butterfly, and Louis Cavadini, whose 21.18-second time in the 50-yard freestyle was good for first place.

The biggest contribution to the team’s victory came from the diving duo of freshman Michael Bulfin and sophomore Sam Stoner. The young pair finished first and second in both diving events. Bulfin started off by winning the 1-meter competition, but was bested by Stoner in the 3-meter dive.

“Training with Sam has helped a lot; we both push each other,” Bulfin said. “If we keep working hard I think that we are both on a pace to reach the [NCAAs].”

Both divers took a step in that direction against the Spartans by scoring high enough to qualify for the NCAA Zone Meet at the end of the season, where a win would place them in the national tournament.

Even Michigan State head coach Matt Giandotas was impressed with how the tandem performed on Friday.

“Your divers really pulled through for you today,” Giandotas said to Brown after the meet. “They’re becoming a huge part of the team.”

The diving team accumulated 29 points to help Notre Dame overcome the fired-up Spartan squad.

“We knew we were in for a tough meet from the very beginning.” Irish swimmer Jamie Lutkus said. “We were just happy to come away with the win.”

Notre Dame will now return home for a showdown with St. Bonaventure at 9:30 a.m. next Saturday at Rolfs Aquatic Center.

“We have really separated ourselves in the past few years. We are hoping to get a big win at home this weekend,” Lutkus said.

The Irish have also been looking forward to the Notre Dame Invitational, to be held at Rolfs Aquatic Center from Dec. 1-3.

“We have been training really hard for the Invitational for the past couple weeks, trying to get as fast as we can,” Brown said.