Nov. 7, 2012
DALLAS - In one of the tightest, most competitive dual meets in TCU history the Horned Frogs men fell 156-144 to SMU Wednesday night at Perkins Natatorium.
"I am very proud of the way we represented TCU," head coach Richard Sybesma said. "It came down all the way to the end, and we fell short, but it was a phenomenal meet for our team."
TCU was down 140-124 after 3-meter diving and needed a lot of help to even give the Horned Frogs a chance in the final relay. TCU delivered the hope in the 200 IM as Harrison Bui (1:55.48), Luiz Azarias (1:55.84) and Cooper Robinson (1:55.89) swept the top-three spots.
The effort narrowed the gap to 144-140 making the 400 free relay a "winner-take-all" event. The Horned Frogs put up a valiant effort, going almost three-and-a-half seconds faster in the event than only four days earlier against North Dakota, but the team of Corey Nix, Sebastian Arispe, August Van Allen and Devin Price finished 0.86 seconds behind the victorious SMU relay with the Mustangs going 3:04.55 to TCU's 3:05.41.
The meet was going to be competitive on paper, and it showed in the pool as the first five events alternated going to SMU and TCU. The Frogs stepped up in the 200 butterfly as the team of Azarias (1:50.84), Grayson Whitten (1:52.88) and Ryker Saunders (1:53.33) dominated the event with a 1-2-3 sweep.
"We would do well in an event, and then SMU would respond," Sybesma noted. "The 200 fly was a huge momentum swing. Our guys felt like their backs were against the wall and they responded."
The momentum carried into the 50 free as Price 21.03 just out-touched the 21.06 put up by SMU's Ryan Koops to give the Frogs a 75-56 lead going into the first diving break.
"Devin winning the 50 free was huge," Sybesma said. "He was one of many swimmers to step up and have big nights."
Another Horned Frog stepping up was Thor Stenfjord. The Alaskan teamed with Michael Franz to post a 1-2 finish in the 1,000 free with Stenfjord touching in 9:35.08 followed by Franz's 9:39.19. Stenfjord and Franz added important points in the 500 free with second and third place finishes, respectively. Sybesma praised Stenfjord's effort.
"That guy is tough as nails," Sybesma said. "He is a blue-collar swimmer. He is always working to get better."
The backstroke was another area TCU showed strength in. Making his debut in the backstroke, Adam Szilagyi smoked the field with a 49.19 to win the 100 back. Robinson took second in the 100 back in 50.31 and came back later to win the 200 back in 1:48.34.
"We were holding Adam back until this meet," Sybesma noted. "Cooper and Adam are going to help each other get better."
In the diving well, Ricky Bradley posted another solid combination of diving scores. The sophomore finished third on 1-meter with 297.45 and fourth on 3-meter with 281.02. Sean Evans finished fifth on 3-meter with 262.42 and Curtis Muller was fifth on 1-meter with a 249.45.
While the loss has, and will be, difficult for the Horned Frogs to take, Sybesma praised the effort of TCU's squad, and believed there was plenty to take from the defeat.
"We want them to know what it feels like when we say anyone on the team can make a difference," Sybesma concluded. "Everyone made a difference tonight, whether it be first-place or fifth. I think we grew up as a team tonight, both by bringing it in the pool, and putting the team before themselves."
TCU's men's divers will next be in action at the Cougar Invitational Nov. 15-17 in Houston. The swimmers will next hit the water at USA Short Course Nationals Nov. 29-Dec. 1.