After two and a half days of competition, the IU men’s swim and dive team sits in fifth place entering the final day at the NCAA Championships at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.
"I thought we had a great night,” head swim coach Ray Looze said. “Morning we left a couple in the pool but I thought we had a really, really good night.”
Vini Lanza kicked off the night session for the Hoosiers in the final of the 100-yard butterfly. The sophomore from Brazil finished seventh but was bumped up to sixth when California’s Matthew Josa was disqualified for a non-simultaneous touch. Lanza’s sixth-place finish was the best for a Hoosier swimmer in that event since 1973.
Junior Blake Pieroni and sophomore Mohamed Samy followed Lanza in the 200-yard freestyle.
Pieroni duked it out with Texas sophomore Townley Haas, the American record holder in the event, and USC’s Dylan Carter in what was the race of the night. Haas edged out Pieroni and Carter by just .5 seconds. Pieroni made a strong push around the 100-yard mark, and gave Haas all he could handle before tying for second with Carter.
“My only hope of beating Townley really was to be out faster than him because I’m not going to come back on him,” Pieroni said. “You know, he’s an amazing distance swimmer so I mean it was tough. He blasted that second 50 so much harder than I thought he would and I really tried. I put everything I had into that third 50 and then just came home the best that I could.”
And while Pieroni didn’t come out with the victory, despite his time of 1:31.16 being the second-fastest time in school history, his coach was more than pleased.
“I already pointed it out to Blake, but I think the rest of the country needs to really take notice of him,” Looze said. “His best swimming’s ahead of him.”
Pieroni also noted his comfort in the pool at the IU Natatorium as an advantage for him this week.
“This is my favorite pool," Pieroni said. "I have more best times in this pool than any other pool in the world. So I love this pool it’s where I grew up in. It’s amazing to be able to have NCs here. Pretty special.”
Samy finished fifth in the consolation final and 13th overall, and earned honorable mention All-America honors in the process.
The IU swimmers ended the night in the consolation final of the 200-yard medley relay. The team of senior Bob Glover, junior Ali Khalafalla, sophomore Ian Finnerty and Lanza finished fifth in the final and 13th overall with a time of 1:24.60.
“This was our weakest relay, we knew that,” Looze said. “It wasn’t what we wanted but I thought Bob Glover had a good split. Ian’s not what he can be here and Vini’s split was a little bit off and so was Ali’s but we get behind and it’s hard to swim in that dirty water. You get knocked around.”
The diving duo of junior Michael Hixon and sophomore James Connor again found themselves in the A final of the diving competition Friday. Hixon and Connor, who finished second and third in the 1-meter springboard Thursday, were fifth and sixth, respectively. Junior Cody Coldren was 18th in the event.
After an undefeated dual meet season and Big Ten Championship, the Hoosiers will look to leave it all in the pool Saturday as the NCAA Championships come to a close. IU trails NC State, who sits in fourth, by six and a half points.
“Going for top-4,” Looze said. “We’re going to lay it on the line in prelims and really dig down. We just need a really good preliminary session to set ourselves up.”
Competition resumes for the Hoosiers at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
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