Photo by Joe Bergman
COMMERCE, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2017) – Freshman Thomas Gallup (Houston, Texas / Phillips Exeter Acad.) won the individual conference title in the 100 Breast, earning his first NCAA 'B' cut on Day Three of the SCIAC Championships.
Gallup is the first member of the Caltech men's swim & dive team to win an individual title in a swimming event since 1996 and could become the Beavers' first representative at the NCAA National Championships since 1983, should his seventh-ranked time in the nation remain among the Top 16 after all championships have concluded. He also played a key role on the 400 Medley Relay team that claimed a spot on the podium with a program-record 3:23.46, which was good for third place and the Beavers' first All-SCIAC relay since 1993.
The Beavers find themselves in a tie for seventh place with 234 points – 43 more than after Day Three of last year's meet and a mere six points out of fifth place, which would be Caltech's best in decades.
A slew of other records fell over the day's two sessions, beginning with freshman Alex Moraru (Southlake, Texas / Carroll Senior) in the 400 IM preliminaries. The rookie chopped 20 seconds from his top time in the regular season to clock a 4:08.71 and earn the eighth seed in the finals heat. He would go on to place ninth in the evening.
Sophomore Henry Steiner (Petaluma, Calif. / Casa Grande) followed by re-setting his own 100 Fly record and qualifying for the finals heat, then lowered it again as he moved up a spot from seventh to sixth and touched just over the 50-second barrier at 50.15. Senior Leon Ding (Blaine, Min. / Spring Lake Park) dropped exactly two seconds from his time in the same event, finishing in 54.37.
The Beavers' record-breaking streak continued with sophomore Jonathan Willett (Edina, Minn. / Edina) in the 200 Free, where the recently crowned 50 Free record-holder blazed his way to a 1:43.31 to make it back in the consolation finals heat as the 13th seed. At finals, he re-set the mark by the smallest of margins, trimming .01 from his morning time and moving up a spot to finish in 12th. Junior Avikar Periwal (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) and senior Kyle Seipp (Rockville Centre, N.Y. / Baldwin Senior) each shaved significant time as well, with Periwal getting under the 1:50 mark for the first time in his career (1:48.93) and Seipp dropping an impressive five seconds.
Gallup then went to work in the 100 Breast, beating the entire field by more than two seconds and likely earning himself a trip to the NCAA Championships with an incredible 55.16 – just .45 off former national champion Steven van Deventer's SCIAC record. He led from start to finish in the finals heat, touching three quarters of a second ahead of the runner-up at the 50 mark and closed with the only sub-30 split to win by nearly a second. Sophomore Adam Dai (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Dos Pueblos) just missed out on joining him in the evening session, touching the wall in a season-best 1:01.62 to finish 22nd, while junior Alexander Bourzutschky (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) placed 32nd via a three-second drop.
Sophomore Dylan Lu (Kingwood, Texas / Kingwood) rounded out the day's events with a consolation finals-qualifying appearance in the 100 Back, giving the Beavers a representative in every event that evening. His 53.13 in the morning was a half-second PR, but he followed that with another near-half second drop to finish in 11th place with a 52.72, just .34 off the program record. Junior Hanzhi Lin (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) notched a PR by half a second as well, finishing one spot out of an alternate position in 54.86, while Ding came in almost a second under his seed time at 59.03.
The night ended with the Beavers shocking the conference in moving up from the seventh seed to reach the podium in third place behind likely national qualifiers Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. Lu led off with a marginal PR of 52.68, followed by the freshly minted SCIAC champion Gallup, who outsplit the field by over a second with a 54.84 to put the Beavers half a second clear of fourth place. Steiner then posted his first career sub-50 butterfly split (49.90), with Willett cruising to a 46.04 with nearly two seconds of separation from both second and fourth place.
The Championships conclude tomorrow with the 1650 Free, 200 Back, 100 Free, 200 Breast, 200 Fly and 400 Free Relay.