There was a different vibe surrounding the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center on Saturday for the ASU swim and dive program’s final home meet of the season against rival UA.
Freshman swimmer Tory Houston sang the national anthem, while Sparky joined the Sun Devils under their tent. Balloons, signs and streamers covered the rails of the packed grandstand, and nine ASU seniors were honored as part of the team’s Senior Day.
Penelope Yamauchi, Jordyn Green, Rebecca Ejdervik, Constantin Blaha, Cameron Bradshaw, Elina Eggers, Kelli Kyle, Yutaro Yamashita, and Jesper Akkesson all competed in front of a home crowd for the last time in their careers.
“I haven’t really seen myself in this situation until now,” Ejdervik said. “I really appreciate how my teammates made this day turn out.”
The scores appeared to be a setback compared to the rest of the day, as the Wildcats (No. 1 men, No. 9 women) romped the Sun Devils (No. 21 women) on the scoreboard 97–47 on the women’s side and 199–95 in the men’s competitions.
Nevertheless, swim coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker was pleased by her team’s effort on both sides as the Sun Devils closed their dual-meet season.
“I thought we competed well, particularly on the men’s side,” Tierney-Walker said. “We had some people really step up.”
Despite the one-sidedness of the scoreboard, the meet was sill competitive in other ways. Starting from the opening 200 medley relay, there was a streak of 10 events where at least one swimmer from either team beat an NCAA “B” cut — a rarity in a dual-meet.
The Sun Devils controlled the distance events, as sophomore Tristin Baxter won the 1650-yard freestyle and sophomore Hayden Thomas took first in the 1000 free. Junior Cassie Morrice later sealed a victory in the 500 free with a time of 4:49.36.
Another bright spot for ASU on Saturday was on the springboards. Senior divers Constantin Blaha and Elina Eggers both captured first-place finishes in the one and three-meter events over UA’s senior Ben Grados and sophomore Samantha Pickens.
While dive coach Mark Bradshaw doesn’t believe Pickens and Grados — two divers he feels are potential All-Americans — competed at their best, Bradshaw was very encouraged by his team’s performance as the divers head into the postseason.
“It’s probably the best we’ve probably ever done (in a dual-meet) in my 15 years here, so it was really positive to see,” Bradshaw said. “It was all good.”
Up next for ASU are the Pac-12 championships in Federal Way, Wash., on Feb 22. Both Tierney-Walker and Bradshaw have been anticipating the championships all season.
“It’s fine tuning,” Tierney-Walker said. “A lot of it is making sure we feel we’re in control of what we’re doing and allowing the body to rest and recover. We’re ready to go.”
Saturday’s meet was also the last chance for fans and local media to see several Olympic hopefuls compete before their respective country’s trials, including Ejdervik, Eggers, Blaha and junior Caroline Kuczynski.
“It’s coming extremely fast,” Kuczysnki said, who’s looking to compete for Canada in June. “I’ve been training the same way I’ve been training for (the) NCAAs. I still have school to finish, so I’ll definitely stay here. I have great coaches and a great team that will help push me to my dream.”
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