Sun Devils Split in Tucson as Men's Team Dominates, Women's Team Drops Nail-biter
TUCSON, Ariz. – For the finale of the 2021-22 campaign, the Sun Devils did all they could to spoil the Wildcats' Senior Day at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. And, incredibly enough, they nearly did just that.
The No. 6 Men's team smacked No. 20 Arizona, 195-103, and it took the final swimming event of the afternoon to decide the Sun Devil Women team's 155-139 loss to the No. 23 Wildcats. Had it not been for the diving portion of the meet, in which the Wildcats collected all 32 points, the Sun Devils would've pulled off the clean sweep.
Consisting of swimming events only, the Sun Devil Women's squad outscored their in-state rivals, 139-123.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both Sun Devil teams jumped out of the gate with terrific intensity early. Bob Bowman's squad rattled off wins in five consecutive events (Nos. 8-12), and eight of their next nine.
The No. 6 Men's squad ripped off eight consecutive victories and won 12 of 14 events on the day, highlighted by three individual victories each by Grant House (200 free, 100 free, 200 IM) and Léon Marchand (200 fly, 200 back and 200 breast).
In Marchand's freshman season, he's tallied multiple wins in each of the Sun Devils' five competitions thus far.
Cody Bybee notched his first win of the season in the 100 fly (46.46) and John Heaphy won the 100 breast for the second time this year (53.41).
Their 195 points on Saturday is the most they've scored in a regular season meet since their 202-98 drubbing over – guess who? – Arizona, when the two last met on February 8, 2020. The Sun Devil Men's team hasn't lost to the Wildcats since February 7, 2015, – before the launch of the Bob Bowman era – a streak consisting of five wins and one tie (2017).
The Sun Devils nearly pulled off a clean sweep, as the Women's meet came down to the final swimming event of the afternoon – a 400 free relay. The foursome of Erin Milligan, Natalia Fryckowska, Lindsay Looney and Erica Laning nearly pulled it off, too, finishing second (3:17.89) behind the Wildcats, (3:17.42).
The Sun Devils, who outscored the Wildcats in the swimming portion of the meet, were plagued by diving points, as Arizona collected all 32.
Regardless, the Sun Devil Women's squad produced an impressive blend of young talent and veteran savvy on Saturday. Emma Nordin captured two wins (500 and 1000 free), Erica Laning (200 free), Lindsay Looney (200 fly) and Jade Foelske (200 IM) chipped in with victories of their own.
True freshman Iza Adame (100 breast) and Emma Gehlert (200 breast) and redshirt freshman Erin Milligan (100 free) were responsible for three individual wins, as well. A 32-point diving deficit hardly deterred the Sun Devils and, backed by a handful of impressive individual performances, nearly resulted in a stunning come-from-behind road win.
Coach Bowman: "I am very pleased with the way our teams raced against Arizona. The men took charge from the first event and maintained great energy and intensity all the way through. Our women battled valiantly and the meet was decided in the final relay.
"I'm very impressed with their grit and determination fighting back from a 32 point diving deficit. We are in a good place heading into the Pac-12 Championships later this month."
That's all for the 2021-22 regular season. Up next for the Sun Devils is an event that's been circled on the calendars of many within the program for the last year: the conference championships.
The Women's team will head to Seattle for the championships on February 23-26. The Men's team will do it the following week, from March 2-5.
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