Irish claim seven first-place finishes
Henry Hilliard | Monday, February 3, 2014
The Irish cruised to victory over Missouri State and No. 25 Iowa in the ninth annual Shamrock Invitational over the weekend in Notre Dame’s first home competition since November.
Notre Dame (6-5-1) beat the Bears 223-147 and the Hawkeyes 224.5-145.5. The Irish were propelled to victory by seven first-place finishes and nine runner-up results. Four of the seven victories were won by underclassmen.
“Top to bottom we were very pleased. We had several guys win their first ever collegiate event for us over the weekend and we are very excited and grateful for that,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said.
The Irish set the bar high in the first individual race, as sophomore Shane McKenzie placed first in the 400-yard individual medley, clocking in at 3.55:52. He was joined four seconds later by his teammate, junior James McEldrew, who finished in 3.59:03 and earned second place. McKenzie’s mark was his best on the season and met the NCAA B-cut mark.
Freshman Joe Petrone claimed first place in the 1,650-yard individual freestyle event with a time of 15.44:03, 40 seconds faster than his previous best time.
The underclassmen were not the only ones who helped secure Irish victories over the weekend. Senior captain Frank Dyer continued his personal success, winning the 200- yard individual freestyle. Dyer, a two-time All-American, swam a 1.37:28 to earn an NCAA B-cut-qualifying time of his own.
“One thing that really distinguishes our team is our depth. We had many different guys step up and score for us today,” Welsh said.
On the diving boards, freshman Joe Coumos swept the competition in the 1-meter board with a point total of 355.80. His teammate, junior Nick Nemetez, came in second.
But the Irish could not match the success of their individual entries in the relay races. The 200-yard medley relay team of sophomore Bogac Ayhan, juniors Cameron Miller and Zach Stephens, and Dyer finished second with a time of 1.30:26. Additionally, the 400- yard freestyle relay team of sophomore Michael Hudspith, freshman Reed Fujan, junior Patrick Murphy and freshman Nicholas Sim came in third with a time of 3.03:46.
After hosting a record 609 fans at the Shamrock Invitational, the Irish return to the Rolfs Aquatic Center next weekend for their regular season finale against Cleveland State on Saturday. The meet will be the final home meet for Welsh, who will be retiring after 29 seasons at the helm.
“We love swimming at home. Between the pool and all the support we receive from the school and our families, we always swim well there,” Welsh said.
After facing Cleveland State, the Irish will have two weeks before the ACC Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
“As a team, we need lifetime best times from our individual and relay teams so we can get as many people qualified for the NCAA Championships. We need to be the best we’ve ever been that weekend,” Welsh said.
The Irish jump back into the pool against Cleveland State at Rolfs Aquatic Center on Saturday. The meet begins at noon.