COLUMBIA, Mo. --- The Texas A&M men's swimming and diving team roared to three victories on the third day of the Big 12 Championships on Friday at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.
The strong day put the Aggies in clear command of second place and they narrowed the gap on the first-place Texas Longhorns. After three days of competition, A&M has scored 582 points and trail the Longhorns (684.5) by 102.5 points. Host Missouri sits in third place with 516.5 points.
The Aggies started fast with an impressive victory in the first race of the night in the 400-yard medley relay. The Aggie foursome of senior John Ariens, senior Amini Fonua, senior Boris Loncaric and junior John Dalton touched the wall in a season-best and NCAA "B" cut time of 3:08.92 for the victory.
Ariens led off with a strong 100 back leg, but the Aggies trailed the Texas Longhorns by a half-second. Fonua erased Texas' in the first 50 of his breaststroke leg and then handed Loncaric a lead with a split of 52.94. Loncaric kept the lead with a 46.53 butterfly leg. Dalton closed out the win with a sizzling 41.99 100 free split, which stands as A&M's fastest 100 free split in school history.
Loncaric tallied the Aggies' second win of the night in the 100-yard butterfly. The fifth-year senior trailed early behind Texas' Neil Caskey and Jimmy Feigen but charged down the stretch to out-touch the Longhorn pair in 46.72. It was the Aggies' first-ever Big 12 Championship in the race and A&M's first at a conference meet since Chris O'Neil's Southwest Conference title in 1986.
Fonua logged A&M's third victory with a win in the 100-yard breaststroke. Coming off a school record time of 53.44 in the prelims, Fonua took control early in the final and cruised to victory in 53.58, which was nearly a second faster than the runner-up. Fonua's win was A&M's first-ever Big 12 title in the race, and the first by an Aggie at a conference meet since Dick Weick won the SWC 100 breast crown in 1953.
A&M's dive crew contributed big points by grabbing places 4-5-6-7 in the three-meter springboard. Sophomore transfer Hayden Jones led the way with a fourth-place finish with a season-best score of 405.70, and was trailed by fellow sophomore transfer Antonio Page-Kahn (332.90), sophomore Adam Ruiz (322.20) and senior Paul Xiques (283.25).
Sophomore Simon Frank climbed to No. 2 on A&M's 400-yard IM list with a time of 3:50.79 while taking fourth.
The Aggies tallied solid points in the 200 free as Dalton, freshman Luke Shaw and junior John Wagner grabbed places 4-5-6. Dalton touched in 1:37.15 and was trailed closely by Shaw (1:37.98) and Wagner (1:38.25)
Ariens closed out the night with a fourth-place finish in the 100 backstroke in a time of 48.57, and the Aggies got 22 points from Nick Han, Max Lewis and Cheyne Hermes in the consolation final.
Aggies Charge to Three Wins at Big 12 Day Three
February 24, 2012
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)