Arizona Places Third Overall at NCAA's
March 28, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio - After arriving in Columbus, Ohio as the nation's top-ranked team, the Arizona Wildcats were feeling good about achieving another team national title. It had only been two years since the Cats won their first team championship and this year's bunch returned an astounding thirteen All-Americans. One day after their arrival however, half of the NCAA roster had to be taken to the hospital after being infected with Norovirus, and no one really knew what to expect.
While the nine Arizona swimmers were being treated for the crippling stomach ailment, many swimmers, fans, media and coaches expressed how they felt bad for the team, which would mostly likely not be able to achieve its overall goal. But the team of eighteen would not listen to what others believed to be insurmountable odds.
After a very unusual meet postponement by the NCAA in light of the Norovirus the affected the swimmers contracted, Arizona started the first day not how it would had hoped and finished the evening in sixth place. That evening however, the Wildcats began to feel more and more like the national championship caliber team that they are.
Jean Basson, the 2009 individual champ in the 500 free, gutted out a tough prelim swim and missed his second individual title by one hundredth of a second in the championship heat at night.
Then on day two, Arizona kept its intensity up, qualifying seven athletes in championship finals and finishing the evening with 182 points on the day, moving from sixth to third place in the process. Some standouts on night two included Jake Tapp, finishing runner-up in the 100 backstroke, and Ben Grado who finished sixth in the 3-meter diving event.
And as to be expected, the Cats saved perhaps their best efforts for last as Cory Chitwood, who last year missed of all the season out with a shoulder injury after a promising freshman campaign, persevered and won the 200 backstroke NCAA individual title. Next up was senior Clark Burckle who dominated the back half of the 200 breaststroke and took home his first-ever NCAA title.
After Burckle's swim, it became evident that Arizona would hold their place in third, ensuring the program its eighth time placing among the nation's top-four teams. With the team title out of reach, Arizona knew it left everything it had in the water and were all smiles atop the championship podium, receiving its `wood' for third place. Its 387 points were enough to push the team ahead of Stanford and Florida who were both gunning for the No. 3 spot.
Final Point Standings
1. Texas - 500
2. California - 469.5
3. Arizona - 387
4. Stanford - 369
5. Florida - 364