ASHLAND, Ohio – With the country's top rankings come the pressure to perform to that level. The AU men's and women's lived up to those billings at the Eastern Michigan Invitational on Dec. 3-4. The meet featured several Division I opponents, including teams in the Big Ten Conference and the Mid-American Conference.
The Eagle women, ranked second in Division II, finished fifth place overall and were the top Division II team at the event. The AU men, the top-ranked team in Division II, were second overall in the meet and first among Division II competition.
"With the teams that were there taking on the Big Ten and some of the best of the MAC on the women's side, it was good to get a taste of that," said AU head coach Paul Graham.
On the men's side, the Eagles came up with seven wins at the invitational, including four of their relay teams. Senior Matt Cook (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) won the 100 backstroke with a time of 49.96 seconds. Sophomore Cheyne Fisher (Durban, South Africa/Westville) tied a school record with a first place finish in the 100 breaststroke. His time was 55.53 seconds.
Freshman Alex Sheil (Sydney, Australia/Trinity) was first in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:32.05.
AU came up with four wins in relay races, including the 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 medley.
The 200 freestyle team consists of sophomores Tyler Remmel (Hubertus, Wisc./Hartford Union), Fisher, and Tyler Bailey (Westlake, Ohio/University School) and senior Chewy Vogele (Westchester, Ohio/Lakota West). They finished with a time of 1:23.93.
The 800 freestyle team consisted of sophomores Bailey, Mauricio Uranga (Chihuahua, Mexico/La Salle Chihuahua), and Johnny Kleinhenz (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills) and Sheil. Their time was a school record of 6:43.89.
"We've put an emphasis on the relays, because you're going to score double the points at NCAAs with those," said Graham. "We've sacrificed some on the individual swims, especially on the 800 freestyle relay, so that they were well-rested, and they ended up setting a school record by four seconds and qualified."
On the 200 medley relay were Cook, Fisher, Vogele and senior Brian Worhatch (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman), who all set a meet record with a 1:31.58 finish.
The 400 medley relay team finished with a time of 3:19.10 – a school and meet record. On that unit were Cook, Fisher, Vogele and Bailey.
The Eagles also had several individual second-place finishers, including Fisher (200 breaststroke), Remmel (100 breaststroke), Uranga (200 backstroke) and Vogele (100 butterfly).
"Mauricio Uranga in the 200 backstroke was a bit of a surprise going as fast as he did (1:49.26) - almost two seconds faster than he swam at NCAAs last year," Graham said. "He's second in the country in that event."
The women's team had one individual first-place finish and two relay teams claimed victories.
Sophomore Julie Widmann (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) claimed first place in the 50 freestyle race with a time of 23.17 seconds.
Junior Maura Anderson (Lakewood, Ohio) set a school record in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:21.00 time. She was eighth in the event at the meet.
"Maura Anderson has taken off in the breaststroke," said Graham. "She's always been so good for us in the butterfly and the IM, but she has picked up the breaststroke quickly. She can be a national contender in the breaststroke events, which if we talked about that last year we would have thought we were crazy. She had a split on the medley relay that was one of the top two or three splits in the last two years in all of Division II."
The 200 freestyle relay team was first with a time of 1:34.54. That squad included Widmann, seniors Kristyn Benter (Big Prairie, Ohio/East Central) and Allison Morgan (Strongsville, Ohio) and sophomore Rachael Ausdenmoore (Southlake, Texas/Carroll).
Widmann, Morgan, Anderson and freshman Sara Reidler (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln) combined on the 200 medley relay team, which finished first with a time of 1:43.50. That qualified as a meet and school record.
The 400 medley relay team finished in second place, but set a school record with a time of 3:47.65. That team was made up of Widmann, Anderson, Morgan and Ausdenmoore.
"To have five relays – three for the women, two for the men – qualified for nationals, we couldn't be happier," said Graham.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS – EASTERN MICHIGAN INVITATIONAL
- Eastern Michigan – 1,171.5
- Ashland – 743
- Michigan State – 725
- Ball State – 509
- Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis – 221
- Waterloo – 129
- Oakland – 44.5
- Wayne State – 42
- Findlay – 7
- Michigan – 865
- Eastern Michigan – 694.5
- Ball State – 649.5
- Bowling Green State – 604
- Ashland – 335
- Michigan State – 293
- Toledo – 208
- Findlay – 64
- Oakland – 59
- Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis – 57
- Wayne State – 28
- Waterloo – 6