Armstrong Repeats as Big 12 Champion

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    Matt Keller
    Matt Keller
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    Junior Jake Armstrong won his second consecutive Big 12 men’s 100 breaststroke championship on the third day of the 2018 Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship, at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

    Armstrong registered a time of 52.59 in his successful championship defense, becoming the seventh men’s and 11th overall Big 12 champion in program history. He also became the fourth Mountaineer to earn multiple Big 12 titles, and the first since Andrew Marsh, who was a part of a winning 400 medley relay team in 2013 and won a 100 backstroke championship in 2016.

    The Dover, Ohio, native also broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke during preliminaries earlier in the day, recording a time of 52.11. Armstrong bested Kevin Donohue’s previous record of 53.07 from 2008.

    The Mountaineers finished the night with one gold, five silver and three bronzes medals en route to setting three school records. The team also combined to produce 30 NCAA ‘B’ cut performances on Friday, including 20 in the finals session.

    “This is, without a doubt, probably our best third day since I’ve been here,” WVU coach Vic Riggs said. “The kids really did a great job this morning, our divers had a phenomenal day for us. Tonight, we came back and swam really, really well. Merwane’s (El Merini) lead off in the (200 freestyle) relay now puts him in the top 30 in the country, so we have another guy that might be making NCAAs. Tristen (DiSibio) is most likely going to be in the top 20 in the 100 breast, and Jake (Armstrong) is in the top four. So, we’re accomplishing what we worked so hard for and that’s getting people to NCAAs. We’re really excited.”

    Additionally, senior diver Logan McHenry earned a record-breaking performance of his own in Friday’s men’s 3-meter preliminaries. The Ventnor City, New Jersey, native topped his own previous record with a score of 390.80 to qualify second for the event’s finals. McHenry recorded a score of 380.80 at the Big 12 vs. Big East Weekend on Oct. 27.

    McHenry went on to finish fourth in the 3-meter finals, while teammate Michael Proietto took the silver medal.

    “What an outstanding day,” WVU coach Michael Grapner said. “I’m so proud of the divers. They all stepped up and represented themselves and their team. Logan had an outstanding prelim and set his 3-meter record even higher. The men were competitive and applied a lot of the corrections we have been working on.

    “On the ladies side, it was really great to get three divers into the finals tonight. All three stepped up and dove very well. Maddy Woods set a new personal best and Callie (Smith) achieved her 3-meter Zones score. It was a good day on the boards, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we rise up to the tower for our last day of competition.”

    Sophomore Morgan Bullock got the Mountaineers started with a bronze-medal performance in the women’s 100 butterfly championship final. Bullock went 53.15 to claim third, while senior Amelie Currat took sixth in 54.24. Sophomore Julia Miranda also qualified for the event’s championship final, finishing eighth in 54.49.

    WVU was well-represented in the consolation and C finals of the women’s 100 butterfly, as sophomore Julia Nilton, junior Maggie Miller, sophomore Miranda Marcucci and senior Celia Martinez all earned second swims.

    For the men, a trio of Mountaineers qualified for the championship final, including sophomore Sam Neaveill, who finished fourth in 47.30. Freshman Angelo Russo (47.83) took sixth, while freshman Denys Kostromin finished eighth.

    Sophomores Jack Frazier and Austin Hartke participated in the consolation final of the event.

    Later on, redshirt senior Nate Carr earned a fourth-place finish in the men’s 400 individual medley final, touching the wall in 3:48.06. Freshman David Dixon also swam in the championship final, finishing in sixth in 3:51.04.

    Freshman Philip Kay (3:52.17) won the consolation final, while senior James Koval and junior Brandon Christian followed close behind.

    On the women’s side, senior Taylor Gill took fourth in the consolation final, earning an 11th-place overall finish. Freshman Kayla Gagnon was next in 12th overall.

    From there, freshman Giselle Gursoy grinded out a third-place finish in the women’s 200 freestyle, earning a hard-fought bronze medal in 1:47.39. Freshman Luisa Winkler won the consolation final, while junior Morgan Carr finished 13th overall.

    Sophomore Ryan Kelly, junior Drew Damich and freshman Max Gustafson combined to produce a 4-5-6 finish in the men’s 200 freestyle, as Kelly led the WVU pack in 1:37.57. Damich finished in 1:37.94, while Gustafson went 1:38.73.

    Before Armstrong’s big moment, the women’s 100 breaststroke featured a fifth-place finish for junior Emma Harris, as she registered a 1:02.07. In the men’s race, redshirt junior Tristen DiSibio earned the silver medal behind Armstrong, tallying a 52.75. Senior Drew Riebel finished fifth overall in 54.60.

    “Defending is always hard,” Riggs said of Armstrong. “Everybody wants to knock you off. But he’s a really good kid, and he’s a really solid individual. (Associate head coach) Damion Dennis has done a great job working with him, and I think having the opportunity to come back here and represent WVU is something I know he cherishes.”

    In the 100 backstroke, Currat rallied to win a silver medal in a time of 53.73. Freshman Ally VanNetta took fifth in the championship final in 54.87. In the women’s consolation final, Miranda and junior Maggie Miller combined for a 1-2 finish to claim ninth and 10th overall, respectively.

    Russo grabbed a bronze medal in the men’s event, earning a time of 47.89 and finishing just ahead of fourth-place sophomore Luke Hene (48.94). Junior Merwane El Merini finished sixth, while Kostromin took seventh.

    On springboard, Proietto earned a score of 374.85 for the silver medal, while McHenry took fourth with a score of 344.60. Junior Austin Smith (310.85) and freshman Caleb Keck (294.75) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

    For the women, juniors Madelyn Woods and Averly Hobbs, along with freshman Callie Smith, qualified for the 3-meter finals. Woods claimed fifth with a season-best score of 318.15, while Hobbs placed seventh with a 294.30. Smith took eighth with a score of 282.95.

    WVU closed the night in style as the women’s 200 freestyle relay team of Nilton, Bullock, Currat and Gursoy combined to earn a silver medal in a school-record time of 1:31.53. The mark broke the previous record of 1:31.69, set by Shaunna Purtell, Sarah Kosmak, Stephanie Shupe and Kayla Andrews in 2010.

    The men also took a silver medal as El Merini, Neaveill, Damich and Nate Carr earned a time of 1:18.30.

    After three days of competition, the Mountaineer men continue to sit in second place as a team with 611 points. The Texas men hold the lead with 723 points. The WVU women also are in second place with 434.5 points, while the Texas women lead with 703 points.

    Saturday’s final day of events include the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, platform diving, 1,650 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relays.

    FloSports will provide live video coverage of the meet on Live results of the championship can be found at the Big 12 Championship headquarters.

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Home forums BlueGoldNews WVU Sports Armstrong Repeats as Big 12 Champion