Indianapolis

The first two days of the Phillips 66 National Championships and World Trials in Indianapolis have been fruitful for both current and former Longhorns alike. The ultimate goal of the World Trials is to qualify for the 2013 FINA World Championships, which are to be held in Barcelona, Spain from July 19 to August 4.

Former Longhorns Jimmy Feigen (2009-12) and Michael McBroom (2011-13) both earned a trip to Barcelona with a pair of runner-up finishes on the first day. Ricky Berens also has eyes turned towards the Worlds. He’s turned in two top-five finishes in as many days.

Feigen, a San Antonio native, finished second in the 100 meter freestyle to the gold medalist in the event at the London Olympics, Nathan Adrian. The field features seven Olympians. Feigen finished in 48.24 seconds, pushing him to eighth in the world, beating his lifetime best of 48.46 from the tech-suited 2009 US National Championships. He had the fasted closing 50, a 25.12 time to push past Anthony Ervin for second place. Feigen became an Olympian in 2012, winning the silver medal as part of the 4x100 meter freestyle relay. He participated in the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships last fall in Istanbul, Turkey and also won NCAA titles in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle categories in his final year at Texas.

“Winning a gold medal [at the Olympics] is the pinnacle of swimming achievement, but right behind that is winning a gold medal at the World Championships,” Feigen said about preparing for Barcelona.

McBroom clinched his trip to Worlds with a second place finish in the 1500 meter freestyle, posting a time of 14:59.12, with London Olympian Connor Jaeger taking first. It was McBroom’s first time to finish under the 15-minute mark and he now ranks seventh in the world this year. McBroom competed with Feigen at the 2012 Short Course Worlds in Istanbul, where he placed 10th in the 1500 meter freestyle. He added more accolades to his resume in March at the 2013 NCAA Championships with two second place finishes in the 500 and 1650 yard freestyle events.

Two-time Olympian and former Longhorn Berens finished fifth in the 100 meter freestyle on the first day, behind Feigen with a time of 48.68. His second fifth place finish came on the second day, in the 200-meter freestyle. Former Longhorn Michael Klueh took seventh in that same final.

Though Berens’ eligibility to compete at the World Championships next month remains unconfirmed, the two finishes he’s posted may still earn him a spot on Team USA’s freestyle relay roster; finishing fifth in both the 200-meter and 100-meter events improves his chances. Junior Clay Youngquist won the 200-meter freestyle consolation final and former Longhorns Austin Surhoff and Dax Hill finished fourth and sixth respectively.

Texas signee and Maryland native Jack Conger also had a top-five finish in the 200-meter backstroke championship final with a time of 1:56.82. The national high school record holder in the 500-yard backstroke, Conger was a finalist in the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the 2012 Olympic trials.

The NCAA Championship meet currently being held in Indianapolis is the last for seniors Austin Surhoff and Michael McBroom, and they are motivated to make it count. In merely the first day, both Surhoff and McBroom accomplished times not only good enough for personal bests but also top-four individual finishes, putting the Longhorns in fifth after one day of events.

In the 500 freestyle, McBroom fell just short of first, taking second in 4:11.39. In addition to being a personal best, the time was good enough to make him the 11th-fastest performer all-time in the event and the third-fastest Longhorn.

Despite the impressive finish, head coach Eddie Reese appeared to have expected nothing less.

“Michael has done it right all year, and he has worked really hard,” Reese said. “He’s very determined to have a real good meet here and he will.”

Surhoff, the former event champion, finished the 200 individual medley in 1:42.63. The only other Longhorn to ever post a faster time in the event was Ricky Berens in 2009.

Top-six finishes in the 200 freestyle and 400 medley relays and freshman Cory Bowersox’s eighth-place one-meter diving finish added to the Longhorns’ total 99 points. In Day Two’s events, starting at 10 a.m., Texas looks to improve on its fifth-place standing.

NFL Combine the test Manti Te’o needs

Notre Dame inside linebacker and eHarmony’s worst nightmare, Manti Te’o, will be among the draft-eligible players participating in the NFL Combine later this week in Indianapolis. It is at this event that players provide NFL teams a further look at what talent they have to offer. Out of any of the other players entering the draft, perhaps Te’o needs this event the most.

After being at the center of one of the strangest news stories of the modern sports era, Te’o will be able to participate in an event that calls only for his physical prowess. At the NFL Combine he won’t need to answer any questions about his personal life. No microphones. Just clipboards and stopwatches.

The Heisman runner-up has a steeper hill to climb than the other participants. He not only has to impress but impress to the point where a team will consider it worthwhile to take a chance on a player with psychological baggage. NFL teams have taken players with issues of personal conduct. Dallas decided it would be worth it to assign wide receiver Dez Bryant personal bodyguards to keep him out of trouble. But an organization cannot regulate the mental state of its players. Aside from possible counseling, there is not much an organization can do to ensure Te’o is mentally prepared for the life of a professional athlete.

Either way Te’o is portrayed from the fake girlfriend hoax, the victim or possible conspirator, the persona that results is not one any upper management would feel comfortable having in their locker room.

For one, players in the NFL receive lots of attention. In addition to a possible lucrative income, how would he be able to handle that?

Let’s not forget about the other players in the locker room. Imagine the potential hazing Te’o would receive. I can already almost hear the rapid typing of ridiculous profiles to request friendship on draft day. With the finances his future teammates would have access to, I can’t imagine what else they might have in store for him.

But the most important concern deals with whether he will be mentally prepared to go through the strains of training camp, learn the defensive plays and study the strategies and aspects of professional offenses. These tasks will not be well done by Te’o, who is still distressed and distracted by the past.

These are all concerns that NFL teams will have to consider when evaluating Te’o. But an impressive outing at the combine would minimize these concerns. Talent has always been the main priority when it comes to drafting players, and this will work to his advantage.

Showing that his mind is focused and his performance unaffected would keep Te’o from falling out of the first round, and it would be the first step in leaving the hoax behind.