OXFORD, OHIO - After three days of furious competition and fast swimming, the waters of the Corwin Nixon Aquatic Center on the campus of Miami University finally stopped boiling. The RedHawk Invitational brought together teams from all over the country for an intense competition that saw numerous meet and pool records. The men's swimming and diving team emerged from this crucible with 597.5-points and in ninth place, out of 17 teams.
While Division III powerhouse Kenyon College dominated from start to finish, the Cardinals piled up a number of outstanding swims, namely in the backstroke events. Senior Nick Badgett and Sophomore Rod Smith recorded top-nine finishes in both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. Badgett finished third in the 100 (50.90) and fourth in the 200 (1:51.73), while Smith placed eighth in both events with times of 52.51 in the 100, and 1:53.60 in the 200-yard event.
While Badgett is the team's lone captain who has led by example all season.
"This is a really fast meet, which always raises my level of competition," Badgett said. "I think I responded really well but when the competition is this deep across the board, you can't help but step up."
Smith said he just wanted to improve on last season's performance at this meet.
"I didn't make finals at a less competitive meet last season so, I just tried to do my best," he said. "We knew Badgett would be up there scoring big so, it's all about other guys stepping up."
And plenty of other Cardinals did step up. Freshman divers Ryan Plantz and Peter Sierra continued their outstanding rookie campaigns by placing sixth and seventh respectively in the 1-meter event. Perhaps even more impressive, according to Cardinal coach Bob Thomas said were the performances of his relay teams.
"I felt the guys really stepped up their competition, considering the level of teams they were up against," Thomas said. "The relays did an outstanding job, and I think that really shows our team depth."
The two highest relay finishes belonged to the 400 and 800-yard freestyle relay squads. In the 400, sophomore Erik Goodrich, junior Nick Schuyler, and seniors Matt and Marc Smith covered the distance in 3:07.12, good enough for sixth place. In the 800, The Smith brothers teamed with sophomores Jason Revere and Ryan Bounds for an eighth place finish of 6:56.01.
Junior Zach Smith capped off the Cardinals highlight performances, with a third place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:06.39).
Thomas thought his team performed well, despite some long hours at the pool due to such a large field.
"I had some mixed feelings about our intensity level, but we were up against some difficult conditions," he said. "If we can compete at this level with these conditions, then we should be even better at the conference championships where the conditions are ideal."