MINNEAPOLIS –– Texas emerged from a back-and-forth battle with California and Indiana and secured its fourth consecutive NCAA title and 14th in program history Saturday evening at Minnesota's University Aquatic Center.
The Longhorns edged California with 449 points while the Golden Bears finished as the runner-up with 437.5 points. Indiana finished closely behind in third with 422 points, and N.C. State finished fourth with 385 points. Florida rounded out the top-five with 347 points.
UT's 11.5-point margin of victory was the second-slimmest winning margin among the Longhorns' 14 NCAA team titles. Texas edged out Stanford for the 2002 NCAA crown by 11 points.
TEXAS WINS ITS FOURTH STRAIGHT NCAA TITLE AND 14th OVERALL! LIGHT THE TOWER!! pic.twitter.com/xfvbAzKvjE— Texas Men's Swimming & Diving (@TexasMSD) March 25, 2018
Already the winningest coach in his sport's history, Texas' Eddie Reese capped his 40th season on the Forty Acres with his 14th national crown, 25th top-two national finish and 32nd top-three NCAA championships showing. Remarkably, Reese finishes off the second such stretch of his career in which he has won four consecutive titles.
The 40th-year head man won four straight from 1988-1991 before winning three consecutive titles from 2000-2002. Seniors Jonathan Roberts, Brett Ringgold and Joseph Schooling all competed at four straight NCAA championships and will leave their college days behind with four NCAA team titles.
Texas entered the final night of competition engaged in an incredibly tight battle with the Golden Bears and Hoosiers for the NCAA team title. Indiana led at the outset of the night with 325 points while Texas held second at 306 and California sat in third with 291.5 points. California passed Texas for second place after the night's first event, the 1,650-yard freestyle, where the Golden Bears tallied 22 points.
Texas made a run for the lead with its massive 54-point haul in the 200 backstroke. Freshman Austin Katz claimed UT's first NCAA title in the event since 2004 with his winning mark of 1:37.53, a lifetime best. The Floridian became UT's first NCAA backstroke champion at either distance since Aaron Peirsol in 2004 and the first freshman to win a backstroke event since Peirsol in 2003.
Junior John Shebat posted his second runner-up backstroke finish in as many nights with a final time of 1:37.94. Roberts chipped in 14 points with his fifth-place swim in 1:38.64. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Harty added three points with his 1:40.74 in the event's consolation final.
Texas and Indiana both caught a break when California failed to qualify a finalist in the 100 freestyle. The Longhorns took advantage and sent juniors Townley Haas and Tate Jackson to the championship final. Haas logged 13 points for Texas with his sixth-place swim of 41.67. Jackson followed in seventh at 41.81 for another 12 points, and Ringgold chipped in five more points with his fourth-place finish in the consolation final (42.03).
Texas took a 54.5 lead over California into the 200 breaststroke, and the Golden Bears made a charge for the lead with two finalists there and three more in the 200 butterfly. Texas freshman Sam Pomajevich managed six points with his 11th-place overall finish in the 200 butterfly (1:41.39), but California took a 9.5-point lead into the final two events.
Texas was poised to pounce on both California and Indiana in platform diving. Cal failed to qualify a finalist, and though Indiana qualified one diver for the championship final, UT qualified freshman Jordan Windle first for the championship final and added sophomore Jacob Cornish to the consolation final.
Cornish provided Texas a shot in the arm, as the Big 12 champion contributed six team points during the afternoon consolation round with his 381.85 points in the platform consolation final. With Windle assured of at least 11 points in the final, Texas would soon take the lead.
Windle made a run for the national title but came up less than six points shy in the final with 460.45 points. Nonetheless, his 17 team points coupled with the six from Cornish staked Texas to a 13.5-point lead over second-place California heading into the final event, the 400 freestyle relay.
How about these @TexasMSD seniors winning 4 straight National Championships... The standard has been set for all to follow.. Light the tower y’all Eddie and the boys have done it again.. Hook ‘em!! pic.twitter.com/196iW8wWrG— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) March 25, 2018
Given the point allocations in the 400 freestyle relay championship final, Texas needed only a legal Longhorns relay in the final and a non-California victory to secure its fourth straight national title.
The relay worked out in the Longhorns' favor as NC State took the win in 2:44.31. Texas put forth a legal relay with Ringgold, Haas, Schooling and Jackson that placed fourth in 2:47.00. The end result was a fourth straight national title for a decorated senior class and their one-of-a-kind head coach.