Texas starts off strong at Big 12 Championships

Elijah Perez

Texas moved a step closer towards extending its 15-year reign as conference champion of the Big 12 on Wednesday.

The conference championships, held in Columbia, Mo. started yesterday and will finish on Saturday. Competing for the men’s championship are the three schools sponsoring swimming programs in the Big 12: No. 2 Texas, No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 25 Missouri. Texas has won every Big 12 championship in history and will look to extend the streak to 16-straight over the course of the four-day championship.

In the first event of the evening, the 200-yard medley relay “A-Heat,” the Longhorns started things off on a good note. The Texas A-Relay team, composed of Cole Cragin, Eric Friedland, Neil Caskey and Jimmy Feigen captured the title for the Longhorns. In a fantastic finish on the anchor leg of the event, Feigen, who entered the pool trailing the field, stormed ahead of an A&M swimmer and cemented the Texas victory with a final team time of 1:25.02. This performance was nothing new for Feigen, a senior from San Antonio, who’s won 13 conference titles in his Longhorn career.

Up next for the Longhorn men was the 1-meter springboard diving competition. Senior diver Drew Livingston, who captured the title in 2010 as a sophomore, was looking to reclaim the event. Fellow senior and teammate Matt Cooper was also vying for the top spot in the field of eight divers. But in the end, it was Livingston who claimed the victory while Cooper finished in fourth place. This is Livingston’s second career Big 12 title.

In the final event of the evening, the 800-yard freestyle relay, the Longhorns looked to finish the first day of the championship in style. First into the pool for the Longhorn’s A-relay team was Dax Hill. Hill, a junior from Round Rock, faced stiff competition for much of his leg of the relay. After a tough battle for the lead, Hill pulled away, able to keep an approaching Aggie swimmer at bay, en route to finishing ahead of the rest of the field of a full body length. From that point on, Texas held onto a commanding lead and never relinquished it. The relay squad ended up finishing with a final time of 6:19.28, the fastest in the country this season.

The championship continues on Thursday with four events on the docket. With Texas’ victories on Wednesday, the Longhorns are putting themselves in a fantastic position to finish at the top of the conference once again and take the team’s winning streak into its 16th year.