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Notre Dame rebounds to beat Northwestern

| Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Notre Dame edged Northwestern, 166-132, in a Saturday afternoon meet at Rolfs Aquatic Center.

The Irish entered the meet after a recent loss to Virginia on Jan. 9. The matchup with the Wildcats was the team’s third home meet of the year, and Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said he drew many positives from the event.

“What I saw out of both teams is that they came out ready to swim well,” Litzinger said. “Northwestern made a couple of really good charges on both sides, and our teams responded.

“The whole goal is when the pressure comes, how do you respond to it, and both of our squads responded positively today.”

The women’s team also beat the Wildcats by an even closer margin of 156.5-143.5. For both Irish squads, individual races paved the way to their victories.

“We swam more individual events than we normally do, and I put an emphasis especially on our last relay,” Litzinger said. “We kind of front-loaded the meet and hoped that momentum would carry us to a victory on the women’s side.”

Individually, senior Bogac Ayhan notched a top-finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 48.92 seconds. Sophomore Robert Whitacre took first place in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing at 1:48.30. Freshman Matthew Grauslys and junior Kevin Bradley finished with times of 1:49.80 and 1:50.21 to secure first and second place in the 200-yard butterfly, respectively. Grauslys also claimed first in the 100-yard butterfly (49.57 seconds), with Ayhan following close behind for second place (50.09).

The Irish continued to clinch first-place finishes in the freestyle and breaststroke events. Sophomore Justin Plaschka won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.58 seconds, and junior Trent Jackson (2:04.59) and freshman Maciej Olszewski (2:06.80) touched the wall to claim first and second in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Notre Dame dominated the pool in the team events as well. The Irish finished first in the 200-yard medley relay and placed second through fourth in the 1,000-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relays. The A relay team — composed of juniors Reed Fujan and Jackson, senior Michael Hudspith and freshman Daniel Fujan — also edged its way to first place in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 3:02.49.

“On the guys’ side, it’s a team effort because it’s just a depth kind of meet,” Litzinger said. “Our depth kind of overtook Northwestern as the meet went on, and we kind of separated ourselves towards the end.”

Going forward, Litzinger said this meet is important as preparation for upcoming and increasingly significant meets.

“This is that time of the year where we’re getting ready for championship level performances,” Litzinger said. “We have a championship simulation at the Shamrock Invitational, and then it’s all ACC preparation from here on out — so we’re looking at the pinnacle performances during the next month or so.”

The Irish swim next at the Shamrock Invitational, which they will host at Rolfs Aquatic Center on Jan. 29-30.

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to formerly serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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