Lewellen Pool was the setting for a furious battle between the Cardinals and Michigan State Thursday night. The two men's swimming and diving teams traded punches in a back and forth contest all night, with the Spartans eventually emerging a 130-113 victor.
Despite the narrow defeat, coach Bob Thomas was pleased with his team's effort and enthusiasm.
"It was awesome," Thomas said. "It was a real fun meet and the guys were really up for it. We won some good races and lost some close ones, but I'd rather lose a close meet than win big. Everybody likes to win, but we're in it for the competition."
Bolstered by a raucous home crowd that Thomas said was the largest he has seen in his 22 years of coaching at Ball State, the Cardinals came out strong. After a narrow defeat in the 200-yard medley relay, the distance swimming efforts of sophomore Ryan Bounds and senior John Hubbard got the team rolling in the 1,000-yard freestyle. The duo finished first and third, respectively with huge season-best times.
"We had some awesome swims," Thomas said. "Pretty much everyone improved from last week and guys like Ryan and John were tremendous."
But the Cardinals were far from done. After a competitive showing in the 200-yard freestyle by senior Marc Smith and sophomore Erik Goodrich, the sprinters struck with a 1-2 finish in the 50-yard freestyle. Junior Nick Schuyler picked up the win (21.81) with freshman Zach Hall placing second (22.01).
"We knew the 50-freestyle was a weak spot of theirs and we really wanted to attack them there," Schuyler said. "It was a big spot in the meet and Zach (Hall) really stepped up."
The lead was short-lived, however, as the Spartans flexed their muscle, winning the next three events, and topping of their run with a 1-2 finish of their own in the 500-yard freestyle.
The Cardinals made a strong attempt at a comeback, led by victories by senior Nick Badgett in the 200-yard backstroke (1:54.60), junior Zach Smith in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:13.26) and the 400-yard freestyle relay team of seniors Matt Smith and Marc Smith, Goodrich and Schuyler (3:10.82). But the comeback fell short as the Cardinals ran out of events. Still, Thomas feels his team turned in a performance to build upon.
"We definitely scared them," Thomas said. "We need to build on this and keep this trend going, but I think we showed that teams can't take us lightly."