The Michigan men’s swimming and diving team responded to the pressure of competing against top-ranked Texas with a shocking road victory. The fifth-ranked Wolverines edged the defending NCAA champion Longhorns 123-120 in a very competitive meet.
“It was exciting from start to finish. There was never more than a few points separating each team,” Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said. “This is what college swimming should be with two of the top programs facing each other like this. It brought out the best in both teams.”
Michigan trailed by a slim margin going into the final event of the night – the 400-yard freestyle relay. The foursome of Garrett Mangieri, Chris Dejong, Peter Vanderkaay and Dan Ketchum came through when it mattered most and clinched the win for the Wolverines. Urbanchek had nothing but praise for Ketchum.
“Dan was instrumental in our victory tonight,” Urbanchek said. “He knew the pressure was on our team in the final event, and he anchored our team to the win.”
To win the meet, Michigan had to rely on its long distance swimming, one of its strengths against a formidable Texas team. Michigan swimmers placed first, second and third in both the 500-yard and 1,000-yard freestyle events. Vanderkaay, Andrew Hurd and Brendan Neligan finished in the top three spots in each of those races. Vanderkaay won the 500-yard race while Neligan took the 1,000-yard race.
“We capitalized on our strengths and that is our distance events,” Urbanchek said. “We had to do that to keep us in the meet as they are a very good sprinting team.”
Michigan could not have won the dual meet without the help of one exceptional diving performance. Jason Coben placed first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events.
“Jason dove really well tonight,” diving coach Chris Bergere said. “He knew the pressure was on, and he dives better knowing his team needs him to do it. I think the rest of the team fed off his confidence, and it helped them to dig down deep and pull this one out.”
Prior to this meet, Texas had blown out all of its competition. The Longhorns also had received all but one first-place vote in last week’s national poll, not to mention the fact that they have won the last two NCAA championships.
The win is Michigan’s first over Texas in its last four meets against the Longhorns.
On Saturday the teams squared off again in an exhibition event. Michigan showed that Friday’s competition was no fluke by beating Texas in six of nine events.