March 28, 2002
ATHENS, Ga. - Qualifying for finals in three events, Arizona State completed the first day of the men's swimming and diving NCAA Championships in 12th place with 38 points at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., Thursday.
The seventh-ranked Sun Devils are attempting to earn their fourth top-10 finish since 1991. They immediately trail meet host Georgia (11th, 47 points) and are two points ahead of 13th-place Michigan (36 points). Texas has the team lead with 163 points.
ASU's top finish of the opening day came in the 200-yard freestyle relay, where a team of sophomore Nick Brunelli, junior Justin Mathias, junior Bobby Zaabadich and senior Simon MacDonald placed seventh in 1:18.91. Stanford took first in the event, setting NCAA, American, U.S. Open and pool records in 1:16.49, just ahead of California's 1:16.89 swim. Arizona placed third in 1:16.99.
In the prelims of the 200y free relay, the Sun Devil foursome swam 1:18.72, becoming the fourth-fastest relay squad in ASU history. The school record of 1:18.32 was established by two different ASU relay teams in 1997.
Thursday's other team event saw ASU place 12th in the 400y medley relay. Sophomore Ahmed Hussein, freshman Russell MacDonald, Simon MacDonald and Brunelli swam 3:15.71 in the consolation final. Virginia won the consolation final in 3:12.49 to place ninth overall. Stanford took the event title in a pool record time of 3:06.81.
The only ASU individual to make event finals was Zaabadich in the 50y free. After swimming a career-best 19.90 to make the consolation final, the junior who transferred from Northern Arizona University over the summer placed 13th in 19.98. Brunelli, who had been the team's leader all season in the 50y free failed to make finals, swimming 20.18 in event prelims to place 33rd. Simon MacDonald matched his season-best effort at 20.25 to place 36th in prelims.
Only the seventh Sun Devil to swim sub-20 seconds in the 50 free, Zaabadich moved behind teammate Brunelli into fifth all-time in school history with his preliminary time of 19.90. In the 500y free, senior Gavin Meadows completed prelims in 27th in 4:24.83, well off his career best 4:21.28. Likewise, junior Christian Harcsas, who swam a career best 1:49.70 in the 200y individual medley at the Pac-10 Championships just to qualify for the national meet, failed to make it out of prelims of that event, placing 45th in 1:51.34.
The NCAA Championships will move into its second day tomorrow with prelims and finals of the 200y medley relay, 400y individual medley, 100y butterfly, 200y freestyle, 100y breaststroke, 100y backstroke, 3-meter diving and 800y freestyle relay. ASU will have entrants in all but the 400y IM and 3-meter dive. The NCAA Championships conclude Saturday.
Day One ASU FINALS:
200y Freestyle Relay: 7. ASU (Brunelli, Mathias, Zaabadich, S. MacDonald), 1:18.91
50y Freestyle: 13. Zaabadich, 19.98
400y Medley Relay: 12. ASU (Hussein, R. MacDonald, S. MacDonald, Brunelli), 3:15.71
Day One ASU PRELIMS:
200y Freestyle Relay: 7. ASU (Brunelli, Mathias, Zaabadich, S. MacDonald) 1:18.72
500y Freestyle: 27. Meadows, 4:24.83
200y Individual Medley: 45. Harcsas, 1:51.34
50y Freestyle: 15t. Zaabadich, 19.90, 33. Brunelli, 20.18, 36. S. MacDonald 20.25
400y Medley Relay: 13. ASU (Hussein, R. MacDonald, S. MacDonald, Brunelli), 3:16.60