It was a weekend of program achievements as the Cardinals swim and dive teams both left the IU Natatorium with plenty of wins and new names to be added to the program record books.
The women’s teams finished as the champions in the House of Champions Invitational with a total team score of 1,122. The men’s team finished in second place (1,108) behind IUPUI (1,383.5).
“It was a fast weekend,” head coach J. Agnew said. “The swimmers and divers were great [but] the swimmers stepped up. That was our best midseason meet I could ever remember…To bring these guys in here [to the IU Natatorium] and have a great meet, great team battles throughout, it’s a fast pool and they swam fast.”
On day one, the Cardinals managed to keep themselves on the doorsteps of the leaders with the men’s team being in third behind Lewis University and IUPUI and the women’s team being in second behind Little Rock.
Fifth-year Owen Cheye took the 50 freestyle crown with a time of 20.03 to cap off Ball State’s first win of day one for the men’s team. The current 50 freestyle program record holder, also took part in the 400 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay finished second and claimed the 3rd best time in program history in that event with a time of 1:20.36.
Rounding off day one, junior Michael Burns jumped his teammate Reece Manning in the record books in the 200 IM, finishing the event in tenth and with the fourth-best time in program history (1:51.00). Burns was also part of the 400 IM relay that finished with the 9th best time in program history (3:20.53).
Even some of the underclassmen got their spotlight on day one as Tommy Brunner finished day one with the third-best time in program history in the 500 freestyle (4:32.09). Sophomores Jacob Siewers, Logan Ayres, and Benjamin Clarkston joined Burns in the program achieving 400 IM relay to mark two records earned by the underclassmen.
The underclassmen especially made their presence known for the women’s team, as freshman Alexa Von Holtz not only took first place in the 200 IM, but broke the program record in the event, a program record that stood for a decade. The previous record was held by Mallory Miles in 2013.
Von Holtz won the program's third-best 400 medley relay (3:42.56). Sophomore Kiran Stauffer took second in the 500 freestyle, however, Freshman Kayla Newman clocked in the fifth-best time in program history in the event (4:55.50). Sophomore Peyton Kelly closed out the individual program achievements for the women’s team on day one with a program record time in the 50 freestyle (22.32).
“[Payton and Alexa] were unbelievable this week,” Agnew said. “It’s not surprising when you see what they do every day at practice. They train hard, bust their tails and they have a great attitude. To see them race after race after race and just keep stepping up and knocking it out of the park, it was just unbelievable [and] inspiring for the team.”
Off the diving board, the Cardinals saw senior Grace Walker take seventh in the three-meter dive with a score of 249.95. On the men’s one meter, sophomore Porter Brovont led the way as he finished just beyond the top ten by placing 11th (276.15). Senior Issac Hunter was not too far behind him finishing 14th (242.90), followed by fifth-year senior Wyatt Blake finishing 16th (237.55).
Ball State earned nine total program achievements and both the men’s and women’s teams sat comfortably on the doorstep of the leaders on day one, however, it was only just the beginning.
The Cardinals really hit their stride on day two, which included another nine program achievements to add to the record book. Ball State also won five total events to end day two.
Von Holtz picked up where she left off on day one and claimed the crown in the 400 IM as well as finishing with the second-best time in program history in that event (4:21.75). It marked the first time that she came close to breaking program records in multiple events.
“The expectation is always high and she is hungry and tough and has big goals,” Agnew said. “Watching her come so close on some of those [record breakers] is awesome, but seeing her break through those barriers is what it’s about.”
In the 200 freestyle, Ball State had two program-achieving performances in Payton Kelly finishing second with the second-best time in program history (1:48.24), and Kiran Stauffer who finished third with the seventh best time in program history in (1:50.49).
In the two relay events, Kelly, Von Holtz, and Stauffer all played a role in two relay teams that won both the 200 medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay. The 200 medley relay, featuring Lilia Newkirk, Laura Wright, Hannah Jones, and Kelly as the anchor, finished at the seventh-best time in program history (1:41.65). The 800 freestyle relay featuring Kiran Stauffer, Haley Sakbun, Alexa Von Holtz, and Kayla Newman finished with the third-best time in program history (7:26.09).
On the men’s side, Ball State claimed wins in the 200 freestyle by sophomore Jacob Siewers and the 100 breaststroke by fifth-year senior Joey Garberick on day two. However, the highlight came in the 200 medley relay where the Cardinals (Michael Burns, Joey Garberick, Bryce Handshoe, and Owen Cheye). They finished second and claimed the second-best time in program history in that event (1:28.01).
Off the diving board, the men went to the three-meter dive where Wyatt Blake finished with the highest score for the Cardinals, placing 10th (299.35). Porter Brovont finished three spots behind him in 13th (283.35).
Heading into the final day of the competition, the women’s team took a commanding lead in their standings, but the men’s team still sat in third behind Lewis and the leader IUPUI.
The women’s team started out strong, with Kayla Newman getting second in the 1650 freestyle and claiming the number three spot in program history with her time of 16:50:07. Next, Payton Kelly claimed the 100 freestyle crown and also added another program record to her belt capturing the event’s program record that has stood still since 1997 with her time of 49.12.
Von Holtz placed first in the 200 butterfly and her time of 2:00.73 marked her third individual program achievement of the meet as it is now second in program history in the 200 Butterfly. To end the night, Ball State added one final program achievement to the book in the 400 Freestyle relay as their final time was the third best in program history (3:23.14).
For the men’s team, the 1650 freestyle saw three Cardinals get program achievements as freshman Malcolm Slater finished sixth with the third-best time in program history (15:48.96), freshman Tommy Brunner finished 12th with the seventh-best time in program history (16:04.91), and junior Alexander Eddy finished 13th with the ninth best time in program history (16:05.16).
The race for first came down to the final two events in the 200 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relays. Although the men’s team was not able to grab the lead, they did, however, grab second place from Lewis University. Sophomore Benjamin Clarkson and freshman Reeve Ferber had program achievements in the event (Clarkson finished with the eighth-best time in program history (1:51.28) and Ferber finished with the tenth-best time in school history (1:51.65).
In the relay, the Cardinals came away with a victory, with the relay (Owen Cheye, Jacob Siewers, Joey Garberick, and Ethan Pheifer) finishing with the second-best time in program history (2:58.95).
Ball State ended the night with 31 total booked program achievements combined throughout the Invitational.
Ball State men’s and women’s teams will get set to head to Greensboro N.C., for the Toyota U.S Championships from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.
Contact Dane Massey with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @danemassey22