After topping Ohio State last weekend, the Texas A&M men’s and women's swimming and diving teams look to carry their momentum into a tough meet against in-state rival Texas on Friday.
“It's going to be tough,” women's coach Steve Bultman said. “They have a very good team and they seem to swim very well in season. We'll have our hands full.”
In their opening meet against No. 14 Ohio State, the No. 16 women outscored the Buckeyes 174-109, with multiple first-place finishes. Key contributors to the win were seniors Raena Eldridge and Anna Belousova. Eldridge finished first in the 50 free (23.15) and the 100 free (51.04), while Belousova placed first in the 100 Breast (1:02.33) and the 200 Breast (2:16.48).
“That was really good,” Bultman said. “I actually thought that was going to be a very close meet, sort of like how the men's meet went down, that close. But we stepped up a little better than I thought we would, and we got our fingertips on the wall first in some close races, so it was good to see.”
On the men’s side, the Aggies managed to upset the No. 5 Buckeyes 153-147 in a down-to-the-wire finish. Contributing for the Aggies was sophomore Shaine Casas and senior Benjamin Walker, who each held first place in four different races. Casas finished first in the 100 fly (47.73), the 100 back (48.04), the 200 Back (1:44.78)), and the 200 medley relay (1:27.37). Walker finished first in the 200 medley relay while also winning the 100 breast (54.93), 200 breast (1:57.79) and the 200 IM (1:48.51)).
Challenging the Aggies this week is rival Texas, who poses a tough matchup for A&M. Both sides for Texas enter this match after a win at home against Kentucky last weekend. The women, ranked No. 8 in the nation, easily defeated Kentucky 172-127, while the No. 2 men routed the Wildcats 179-109 while finishing with 12 first-place finishes.
“Our team knows what this is,” men’s coach Jay Holmes said. “The University of Texas has a great program. In the last six years, the worst they finished in the NCAAs was second, and they’ve won it a lot.”
Holmes said the rivalry meet is one the team looks forward to every year.
“This is something that we started circling on our calendar every year, because it is the University of Texas,” Holmes said. “Our guys love this meet and it's gonna be interesting, whenever we get up and throw it down.”
Being able to win individual matchups will provide A&M a chance at victory, senior Adam Koster said.
“We need to win races, that’s the big thing,” Koster said. “Winning a race means nine points, so if we can get alot of guys winning races, then we should be good.”
In diving, the Aggies were able to find success against Ohio State, with freshman Victor Povzner being named SEC Diver of the Week for the men, while junior Charlye Campbell swept the diving events for the first time in her career.
Against Texas, both diving teams could be the difference between victory and defeat, Holmes said.
"Diving can go any way, Holmes said. “Our divers, Kurtis Mathews and Victor [Povzner], were both really good against Ohio State, and Ohio State has a perennial diving program. I'll be really interested in seeing what happens with diving."
When both teams face off against each other, the Aggies are confident they have enough talent to secure the win, Eldridge said.
“I think it’s a matter of who shows up, who wants to win this meet,” Eldridge said. “Both teams have some great girls. As long as we’re all ready to do our part and push it, get our hand on the wall, any team can win this. It's about who wants it more.”
The Aggies face off against Texas on Friday at the Rec Center Natatorium. Both men and women’s matches begin at 6 p.m., and will be available to stream via SEC Network+.