Kentucky Handles Louisville with a Pair of Wins on Senior Day
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky wouldn’t settle for less than a sweep in its senior-day dual Saturday, the swimming and diving program’s final home swim meet of the season. Nineteen graduating seniors celebrated in victorious fashion after the men and women took down the nationally ranked Louisville program.
Spectators burst into a roar when the Kentucky men took a 10-point lead ahead of the final event. It was their first lead of the meet, sparked by the 3M dive and the 200 IM, which gave the Wildcats the advantage in the final stretch. Four Wildcats sealed the deal in the final event, posting a 2:57.27 in the 400 Free Relay to cap the dual. It was the first time in 12 years the UK men have tabbed a victory over UofL.
The No. 10 Kentucky women set the pace early in the meet, forcing the 16th-ranked Cardinals to take a backseat for majority of the dual. It was the women’s second-straight victory over the Cardinals, after taking care of business at Louisville last season for the first time since 2009.
“It is the first time in a long time that the men have earned a victory over Louisville, so that feels really good,” said head coach Lars Jorgensen. “Obviously, Glen Brown and Peter Wetzlar were the stars of the show, but everyone really stepped up for all of our swims across the board. I’m so happy for our seniors.
“For the women, we knew Louisville was a very good team. They came out and they were very competitive. So, it was fun. It was pretty heated, but it is good intensity to have in the building. It was a great atmosphere and it really made it fun.”
The Kentucky divers played a huge role Saturday, claiming the top spot in each discipline. Meanwhile, freshman Kyndal Knight robbed each of her dives, topping the results on both the 1M (286.35) and the 3M (318.60) boards.
Senior Seb Masterton continued his streak of winning at least once in each meet since he returned from injury in November. The only male senior diver for Kentucky, Masterton locked in gold on the 1M with a 322.95. It is his fourth-straight win on the springboards.
In his first home performance of his career, freshman Danny Zhang came up huge on the 3M with a remarkable 409.20. It was only Zhang’s second appearance on the Kentucky roster in the dual season and already the Wildcat will earn ink to the record book. His 3M score is the third-highest score in program history, right behind Masterton who is in second with a 428.15, logged in 2017.
“Gutsy performance today by Seb Masterton,” said head diving coach Ted Hautau. “We weren’t expecting him to compete after being out all week with a toe injury. Trainers gave him the option to test it out and he gutted out a win on the 1M and second on 3M.
“Kyndal Knight swept both boards and continues to show her composure in competition. We were excited for Danny Zhang to pick up a win on the 3M. He’s getting into diving shape, and although he didn’t have any legs today he found a way to get vertical and score. I was pleased with our energy and fight today. We helped put the team in a position to win heading into the final relays, which was our goal today.”
While a handful of Wildcats contributed valuable points to the men, junior Wetzlar took charge in the pool. He led the Kentucky club with two individual victories, both in freestyle events. The Zimbabwean first stole gold in the 50 Free with a 19.82, which led to a 15-minute break. Right out of it, the junior struck again in the 100 Free, posting a 44.10 swim. He made his most prized impact in the final event, swimming the lead leg in the 400 Free Relay with a split 44.06, which gave Kentucky the deciding hand.
Mason Wilby, the freshman from Gainesville, Florida, swam assertively for his young career. His swims included one first-place mark and two second-place finishes, each fueling momentum for the club. With his specialty stroke, Wilby posted a 1:45.93 in the 200 Fly that gave him his only victorious finish of the meet. However, he came up big in the 200 IM with his silver finish that capped a two-lane sweep, right behind junior Brown who claimed first on a 1:47.71 touch.
Brown’s and Wilby’s two-lane sweep in the 200 IM, along with Zhang’s 3M dive, helped boost the men to its late lead.
The women sustained their lead over ranked Louisville for majority of the dual. Sophomore Bailey Bonnett had veteran-like swims, collecting two victorious finishes – 100 Breast (1:01.61) and 200 Breast (2:12.78). Junior Asia Seidt claimed just one more win than Bonnett, going undefeated in her individual events – 100 Fly (53.63), 200 IM (1:59.55) and 100 Back (53.09).
Senior Geena Freriks splurged on senior day, attacking her freestyle events. The seven-time NCAA All-American secured the top spot in the 1000 Free (9:54.41) and 500 Free (9:54.41). Freriks is the Southeastern Conference titleholder in the 500 Free, and clinched the event twice in her last meet at Florida and Ohio State Jan. 4-5.
In the closing event, the UK women finished with style collecting gold in the 400 Free Relay (3:20.01), while Freriks swam the anchor leg with the fastest split of the event (49.54).
The Wildcats will only enjoy one week off before entering a dual with Cincinnati Feb. 1. The swimming portion will take place at Cincinnati, while the diving portion will contest at the Lancaster Aquatic Center. Both events are schedule for 4 p.m. It will mark the final dual of the season ahead of Kentucky’s postseason schedule.
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