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ASU swimming battles to the end, earns split against USC

Facing their first true test of the young season, the Sun Devil men grabbed a win over USC while the women came up just short

Senior Sean Kao competes in the 200 yard medley relay against the Air Force Academy on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe. Air Force defeated the Sun Devils 158-142.
Senior Sean Kao competes in the 200 yard medley relay against the Air Force Academy on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe. Air Force defeated the Sun Devils 158-142.

Coming into Friday's dual-meet with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, both the men's and women's teams for ASU swimming were undefeated

In the first three meets, the Sun Devils earned the success they experienced, however, the strength of ASU's schedule suggested the team had not yet faced a true test. Teams often learn the most about themselves against the highest-level of competition, and swimming against USC fits into that category.

The men's team battled to a 156.5-142.5 win over the Trojans, and the women came up short against the fifth-ranked team in the country, 169-104, at the Uytengsu Aquatic Center.

The 24th-ranked men's team had its win come down to the final race and impressed it's head coach Bob Bowman with by battling to the very end.

"I'm very pleased with the men's team and how we raced today," Bowman said. "USC is an excellent team and taking them down to the wire is a big step for our program."

Huge wins from freshman Ben Olszewski in the 500-yard freestyle (4:27.42), and graduate student Andrew Porter in the 100-yard butterfly (47.70) gave the team a chance to earn a statement win on the road.

After the diving break, USC needed points in the 200-yard IM, the final individual event.

Swimming with a sense of urgency, USC sophomore Patrick Mulcare (1:47.97), and senior Michael Domagala (1:48.54) finished 1-2, earning 13 points.

For ASU, freshmen Cameron Craig (149.70), sophomore Danny Comforti (150.51) and freshmen Zachary Poti (152.21) took third, fourth and fifth respectively.

This set the stage for the last overall event of the day, the 200-yard free relay. USC needed first and third place finishes to tie.

Touching the wall 1.71 seconds ahead of senior Richard Bohus, USC sophomore Kyle Grissom gave his A relay first. USC's B relay won the race for third over their Sun Devil counterparts by 1.34 seconds.

In addition to his victory in the 500-yard free, Olszewiski won the mile (1650-yard free) by 15 seconds with a time of 15:33.22.

Bohus earned another win (a first-place tie) in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 47.70. Juniors Christopher Lorenz and Patrick Park experienced the same result in the 200-yard breaststroke (159.53) and 200-yard butterfly (146.89) respectively.  

On the women's side, the Sun Devils knew they were in for a battle against a top-five opponent in the Trojans.

USC claimed victory in the first 11 events, including a one-two finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay that set the tone.

Faced with adversity, ASU could have mentally and physically surrendered. Instead, they flourished and mounted an impressive comeback.

While Bowman certainly would have liked a stronger start, he was encouraged by the competitive spirit of the ladies.

"Our women competed well against one of the country's best programs," he said. "We continue to make small steps forward each day. That's the name of the game. Get better every day," Bowman said.

The Sun Devils won the last three events, making the match look more competitive than it probably should have been.  Simonovic (56.60), and freshman Gillian Reith (1:00.49) went 1-2 in the 100-yard butterfly.

After the diving events, freshman Chloe Isleta (2:03.67) and sophomore Marlies Ross (2:04.74) followed suit in the 200-yard IM, earning another 13 points.

ASU's A and B 200-yard free relays ended the meet on a high note with a 1-2 finish. 

Moving forward, Bowman said he learned a lot about his squad.

"There are many good teaching points from this meet for the men and the women," Bowman said.

Up Next:

The women travel to UCLA on Saturday for the second leg of a back-to-back at 11:00am.

The men are back in action at the Art Adamson Invitational, hosted by Texas A&M, Nov. 17-19 in College Station, Texas. The women's team will join them for that event, wrapping up the fall portion for both.

Related Links:

ASU women's swimming searches for candidates in the 200-yard breaststroke

Freshman impress during annual ASU swimming intrasquad meet

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