Saturday's dual meet with Western Kentucky must have felt like deja vu for the men's swimming and diving team.
A spirited dual meet against a strong opponent, several close races and many season-best performances were elements similar to the team's previous competitions. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, so was the outcome. The decision was again a close one, but the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers emerged from their home pool as 131-108 victors, sending the Cardinals to their fourth consecutive dual meet loss.+â-è
"We did everything we could to win the meet but just came up a few points short," coach Bob Thomas said. "The guys did well. A lot of close decisions went our way, and we had a lot of season best times. But they just had more talent than we did, and that's what wins meets."
In particular, the Hilltopper talent lied with three swimmers who all claimed a pair of victories in the meet. Gord Veldman won the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke, Dean Cheek took the 1,000- and 500-yard freestyle and David Tucker won the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
"Western had those three studs that just took care of business, to put it bluntly," Thomas said. "Veldman was unbeatable in his races, Tucker is an Olympic Trials qualifier and was unbeatable in his races, and Cheek blew everyone away in the 500 and 1,000. Those three guys won the meet for them."
Thomas said the biggest blow came in the 200-yard butterfly. The Hilltoppers pulled off a 1-2-3 sweep of the event, despite sophomore Jason Revere's season-best effort of 1:56.27.
"That killed us," Thomas said. "Revere did a great job but to go your best time of the season and get fourth has to be discouraging."
The Cardinals did have perhaps the best performance of the season from freshman divers Peter Sierra and Ryan Plantz. Sierra was victorious in the 3-meter event (217.50-points) while Plantz took the 1-meter event (241.55) with Sierra finishing second.
The lone individual swimming victory came from junior Zach Smith, who won the 200-yard breaststroke in a season-best time of 2:12.43. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Nick Schuyler, sophomore Erik Goodrich and seniors Matt and Marc Smith recorded the only other Cardinal victory with a season-best effort of 3:09.89.
The team will take this weekend off and return to action Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 at the Miami Invitational in Oxford, Ohio. Although the team has lost several meets in a row, Thomas says they will be ready to face a strong field in Miami and turn in their best efforts of the year.
"Swimming is an individual sport as much as it is a team sport," Thomas said. "We might be losing as a team, but the guys are doing well individually. In the past, we've done very well at this meet (Miami Invitational). I would anticipate all season best efforts and about half lifetime bests. We're entering this meet with high expectations."