The No.17/No.13 Wisconsin Badgers (0-4 men, 1-3 women) were hoping to come into Gabrielsen Natatorium Friday and make history, but instead it was the No.7/No.8 Georgia Bulldogs (4-0, 4-0) who came out of the pool victorious after holding Wisconsin to only nine event victories in the two-day dual.
It is well-known in the world of collegiate swimming and diving that leaving Gabrielsen victorious as a visitor is near to impossible. The Georgia women have not suffered a dual-meet loss at home in exactly 21 years, and the men have not lost in Gabrielsen since a heartbreaker to then-No. 1 Texas on January 10, 2015. The women’s 102-meet home win streak is the longest such streak in the NCAA.
Although the Badgers, who only traveled with about half the team, did not snap the streak Saturday, they did have several highlights, recording five times that rank within the top five in the country.
Sophomore Cierra Runge and senior Matt Hutchins notched a pair of victories in the 500-yard freestyle, with the sixth-fastest and fourth-fastest times in the nation, respectively. In the 1000-yard freestyle, their other primary event for the meet, Runge grabbed runner-up honors with the fifth-fastest time nationally, while Hutchins took the same spot on the national list and won his race.
Seniors Chase Kinney and Cannon Clifton swept the 50-yard freestyle, overtaking some serious contenders for the Bulldogs in the process. Kinney’s time of 22.75 out-touched Canadian Olympian Chantal Van Landeghem, and Clifton’s 20.15 was nearly a half-second faster than that of Georgia’s Chris Powell.
Sophomore Jess Unicomb continued her dominance in the 100-yard backstroke, taking second in a neck-and-neck race with Olympic gold medalist Olivia Smoliga, who finished in the top 10 in the event at the NCAA Championships last year. Unicomb’s time of 54.59 is an NCAA provisional qualifying time.
Also impressive was senior Badger Harrison Tran, who grabbed his first-ever individual NCAA provisional qualifying time by tying Georgia school-record holder Pace Clark for the win in the 100-yard butterfly.
Tran joined Clifton, senior Brett Pinfold and freshman Griffin Back to grab the victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Meanwhile, Clifton, Pinfold, Hutchins and junior Ryan Stack won the 400-yard freestyle relay in dominating fashion, with a time of 2:56.74 that ranks third in the country.
On the women’s side, the relays were equally dominant, with the 200-yard freestyle relay team of Kinney, Unicomb, junior Marissa Berg and sophomore Emmy Sehmann claiming victory and posting the third-fastest time in the country at a blistering 1:30.80. Kinney, Sehmann, Unicomb and Runge were the runners-up in the 400-yard freestyle relay, with a time of 3:19.58 that is the fourth-fastest nationally.
Six Badgers will be back in action next weekend as they represent the Big Ten in the USA College Challenge in Indianapolis. The two-day competition will occur Nov. 12-13 and will be televised on BTN.