Prelims: Day Three at Men's NCAAs
MINNEAPOLIS – The 400 freestyle relay team earned a berth into the final as the 2011 Men’s NCAA Championships continued Saturday at the University Aquatic Center on the Minnesota campus. Preliminaries were held in the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 400 freestyle relay and platform diving.
Virginia’s 400 freestyle relay team of Scot Robison, Peter Geissinger, Matt McLean and Tom Barrett placed fifth in the preliminaries with a time of 2:51.58 and will compete tonight in the final of that race.
“The relay came through really big to make it into the final eight,” Bernardino said. “It’s going to be an interesting battle between Virginia, Michigan and Southern Cal for 7-8-9, not knowing what USC’s divers will do at this point. Hopefully we can do the things we need to do. If it comes down to the relay, so be it, it will be determined in the water. I hope we are fortunate enough that it comes down to that.”
It marks the first time Virginia has placed four relays – including all three freestyle relays – into the finals at the NCAA Championships.
“That is pretty special and really a huge step forward for our program,” Bernardino added.
Robison just missed a spot in the 100 freestyle final and will instead compete tonight in the consolation race. He placed ninth out of the preliminary session with a time of 42.48.
“It was a tough break for Scotty being the ninth guy in,” Bernardino said. “I was really hoping he would make it in but it’s a loaded field and he came up just short. That’s his best freestyle morning performance at the NCAA meet.”
Teammate David Karasek was 46th in the event, posting a mark of 44.64. Geissinger also qualified for the event but scratched to prepare for the relay.
Freshman Taylor Grey completed his first NCAA Championships with a 25th-place showing in the 200 breaststroke. He touched in 1:56.75. Sophomore Matthew Murray took 28th in the 200 backstroke with a mark of 1:44.46. Sophomore Matt Houser, an honorable mention All-American in both the 200 and 400 individual medley events, placed 19th overall in a time of 1:45.61.
“A little bit of a disappointing morning for our strokers,” Bernardino said. “We were hoping some how, some way we could scrape a point or two out of one of those guys but it didn’t happen. Those three (Grey, Murray, Houser) are all at their first NCAA meet and they have a lot to learn. Hopefully they will be back here in the future and understand the importance of taking a race out as fast as you can and the value of courage in finishing a race.”
Virginia will have three swimmers – McLean, Jon Daniec and Taylor Smith – who will swim in the 1650 freestyle later today. Daniec and Smith will race at approximately 5:15 p.m. when McLean is in the final heat set for 7 p.m. as the evening session begins.
Finals begin at 7 p.m. CDT time (8 p.m. Eastern) tonight from Minneapolis and will be webcast live on www.ESPN3.com and linked on VirginiaSports.com.