Michael Hixon

With two diving titles and a collection of other top-10 finishes, Texas finished second at the NCAA Championships. Among the Longhorns’ strong performers was the 400-yard freestyle relay team that secured the ninth-fastest time in program history.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns grabbed three individual All-American finishes and an All-American relay to finish second this weekend while hosting the NCAA Division I Championships. Competing at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, Texas scored 417.5 points, trailing title-winner California’s 468.5.

This marks the 11th NCAA runner-up finish for head coach Eddie Reese, who has won 10 NCAA titles in his 36 years here. Reese said ninth-place finishes hurt the team.

“We lived and died by our ninths,” Reese said. “We’re from The University of Texas, so we expect to be battling for top three year in and year out and have a legitimate shot for first. We did.” 

Freshman diver Michael Hixon swept the springboard diving events to secure two NCAA titles and Diver of the Meet honors. 

“Having my boys right there, right beside the three-meter, that was unbelievable,” Hixon said. “I kind of went a little crazy after my last dive, probably a little bit too much.”

Hixon finished out his meet with a seventh-place finish in the platform diving event with a score of 366.35.

Diving coach Matt Scoggin reclaimed his 2012 title as the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Diving Coach of the Year. Scoggin attributed Hixon’s early success to his work ethic and dedication. 

“It’s infectious,” Scoggin said. “He shows up early, stays late. Sometimes I have to tell him, ‘Look, you’re done. You need to get out of here.’”

Hixon’s spirit translated to the swimmers. Sophomore freestyler John Murray clocked in at 42.43 for fifth in the 100-yard freestyle championship, and sophomore swimmer Matt Ellis placed seventh in the consolation final with 42.98.

Beating his own personal best and notching third on the all-time Texas board, junior swimmer Kip Darmody finished sixth in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:40.18. Freshman swimmer Jack Conger’s 1:40.73 time put him in eighth place, giving the Longhorns 11 overall points.

The Longhorns ended the night with a fourth-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the ninth-fastest time at UT. Ellis, Murray, Conger and senior swimmer Caleb Weir lapped at 43.07, 42.11, 43.06 and 42.70, respectively.

Scoggin said he’s optimistic about placing second with such a young team this year.

“It’s awesome to see young men have the guts to know how great they’re going to do before they even do it,” Scoggin said. “We feel very fortunate.”

The Longhorns took on Southeastern Conference foe, No. 8 Auburn on Thursday, marking Texas’ return to dual-meet competition, and the first time it has hosted the Tigers at home in four seasons. The Texas divers wasted no time getting re-acquainted the dual-meet format. Redshirt junior Will Chandler took the one-meter event with a score of 367.05 followed by sophomore Cory Bowersox and freshman Michael Hixon, solidifying a Texas one-two-three finish.

The meet also featured the young talent Texas swimming possesses. Sophomore John Martens added an NCAA “B” cut and a victory in the 200 butterfly, helping the Longhorns to a 162.5-132.5 overall victory.

Texas continued its success with a 169-126 victory over Georgia on Saturday. Hixon swept the diving events and posted a personal best on the three-meter board. In the swimming portion, sophomore Sam Lewis captured a come-from-behind win against the All-American packed Georgia contingent in the 500 freestyle.

“[Lewis] is growing in our sport right before our eyes”, Texas assistant coach Kris Kubik said. “He has now come to realize he is in the argument for the top racers in the country in the middle-distance events.”

Day two of the UT Diving Invitational saw the men take to the three-meter board for competition. For the second evening in a row, the final was stacked with Longhorns, occupying five of the eight qualifying spots.

The night would again belong to freshmen diver Michael Hixon who claimed his second event in consecutive nights. After two rounds, Hixon sat in third place, two spots behind the leader, teammate Cory Bowersox. Hixon would pull away from the competition over his next four dives, executing the highest scoring dive in all but one of the next four rounds. Hixon’s best dive came in the second round in the form of a forward three-and-a-half somersault which totaled a meet-best 82.15 points. The Massachusetts native finished with 453.35 points, and a chance to sweep his first UT Diving Invitational with a victory in the platform event on Saturday.

Sophomore Cory Bowersox, who earned the Big 12’s Diver of the Week honor this week, placed fifth in the three-meter event with 418.70 points.  Sophomore Sean O’Brien finished in sixth place and totaled 413.90 points. Freshman Mark Anderson took seventh place with 407.20 points while junior Will Chandler took eighth place with 379.65 points.

Hixon and the Longhorns wrap up the final day of the UT Diving Invite on Saturday with the platform event at 2:00 p.m.

The UT Diving Invitational kicked off Thursday with the men taking to the one-meter board for their first of three days of competition. With another impressive performance, freshman diver Michael Hixon secured the event with a final score of 410.60 points. Hixon finished the preliminary round at the top of the standings with 404.85 points, but fell into fifth place after his first dive in round one of the finals. Hixon would find his form over the five remaining rounds, clinching the event on his final dive: an inward, two-and-a-half somersault that totaled 80.60 points. 

Texas occupied five of the eight qualifying spots going into the final. Sophomore Cory Bowersox took third place with 378.25 points, while freshman Mark Anderson placed fourth with 371.80 points. Junior Will Chandler placed seventh with 324.55 points, and senior Will McCraney took eighth place with 306.50 points. 

This week’s invitational features divers from Texas, Arizona State, California, Miami, Fla., Hawaii, TCU and Wisconsin. The invitational will resume Friday with the three-meter diving preliminary round at 1:30 p.m.

The Longhorns opened up their 2013-2014 season with a convincing victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

Texas began the meet strong with a sweep in the 1000-yard freestyle. Sophomore Sam Lewis secured the victory with a time of 9:12.49, followed by juniors Clay Youngquist and Nicolas Munoz. The momentum would continue for Texas en route to beating UNC by 45 points, managing 171.5 points in all.

In diving, freshman Michael Hixon kicked off his collegiate career with a victory in the one-meter diving event. Also in his collegiate debut, freshmen swimmer Jack Conger performed well for Texas, securing first place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.

“I really liked his intensity today. It’s infectious,” said diving coach Matt Scoggin about Hixon’s performance. “Overall, I’m happy with what I saw today, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Texas’ next meet will be on Oct. 25, where they will travel to take on Indiana and Michigan.