Going into Fishers, Ind., Ball State swim and dive were coming in with a sting on their minds as their undefeated duel records were shattered over the weekend in road defeats.
Despite the men’s team losing to Miami (OH), the women’s team took the bigger blow, as they traveled to Athens, Ohio for a battle of undefeated with Ohio University and took a massive 219-81 defeat at the hands of the Bobcats.
Ball State’s Alexa Von Holtz and Laura Wright were the only two Cardinals to win events - Von Holtz in the 200 butterfly, and Wright in the 50 freestyle. Despite 12 top-three finishes, it was still insufficient for Ball State to keep up with Ohio racking up points. The performance marked Ball State’s worst points performance in almost two years (last was March 13, 2021, to Akron 208-91).
To make matters worse for the women’s team, the injury bug managed to strike the team as they had a handful of their swimmers dealing with injuries, and as the days are now starting to tick down towards Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships in just a few weeks, the quest for the title seems to get scarce with the Cardinals, not at full strength.
“Our women need to get healthy and that’s priority one,” head coach J. Agnew said. “It has been challenging but there’s no plan for that so we knew though in every race we were eyeball to eyeball with them up top. We just didn’t have the depth at that level. At [the MAC Championships], if we come back healthy, strong, and ready to go, we going to swim pretty fast and it’s going to be a different meet.”
Despite losing back-to-back meets in brutal fashion, the Cardinals got some life from the men’s team to end the weekend and took the Butler Invite title in convincing fashion. Despite competing against Xavier, Lewis, and the reigning Division II National Champions University of Indianapolis, Ball State reigned supreme.
“It’s interesting really [because] we didn’t really talk about winning this meet, we just have a tough group of men and women, and after Miami, we were all disappointed, and they showed up ready to race [today],” Agnew said. “They were fearless in their races and it started off with the [1650 freestyle]. That mile was one of the best dueling miles I have seen in a long time… and I think the team really fed off of that.”
After Ball State’s A relay grabbed second place in the 400 medley relay, the Cardinals grabbed a clean sweep of the top three in the 1650 freestyle with freshmen Seth Blossom and Tommy Brunner being neck and neck until the final stretch when Blossom ultimately took the race. Along with the close race, Blossom finished with the fifth-best time in program history (15:58.40), while Brunner is not far behind him on the list as he posted the sixth-best time in program history (15:58.51). Junior Alexander Eddy came right behind them in third to complete the sweep.
Fifth-year senior Joey Garberick continues to dominate the breaststroke competition for the Cardinals as he claims both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Fifth-year senior Owen Chaye edged out a top-three finish in the 50 and 100 freestyle events by placing third. In both the 100 and 200 backstroke events, Ball State had third-place finishers in junior Max Kruglov in the 100 backstroke and sophomore Logan Ayres in the 200 backstroke.
To close out the meet, Ball State had each of its relays take the top three in a race in the 200 freestyle relay. The Cardinals A relay took first while their C relay took third in heat two, then their B relay took second in the final heat of the event.
Ball State swim and dive will be back in action as both the men’s and women’s teams go on the road to Louisville, Ky. to take on Bellarmine in a co-ed duel meet Saturday (Feb. 3) at 1 p.m.
Contact Dane Massey with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @danemassey22.