Freshman Daniel Krueger earns first individual Big 12 Title

Liliana Hall

As the fourth-ranked Longhorns work towards their 40th straight conference title at the Big 12 Championships this week, freshman Daniel Krueger shoots for something smaller — his first Big 12 title.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s events, Texas sat in second place in the standings, trailing West Virginia by seven points.

With the Longhorns needing to make up ground Thursday night, pressure was high at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center as Krueger went head-to-head in the 50-yard freestyle alongside teammates freshman Charlie Scheinfeld and junior Jacob Huerta. Senior Tate Jackson was scratched from the heat earlier in the afternoon.

However, after going head-to-head with West Virginia sophomore Merwane El Merini, Krueger outstretched his opponent with a final time of 19.40, just under three-tenths of a second faster than El Merini.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be swimming for a team as great as Texas,” Krueger said. “When you step up on the block, you become a part of the Longhorn tradition and I owe a lot to my coaches for preparing me for tonight.”

Krueger closed out the night on the 400-yard medley relay alongside Scheinfeld, junior Ryan Harty and senior John Shebat. The A-team broke the preceding Big 12 meet record in the 400 medley with a time of 3:04.57.

But for Krueger, day two of the Big 12 Championships was his opportunity to showcase his readiness for the NCAA Championships, which are hosted in Austin on March 11.

“No matter how we closed out the night, it was a fantastic experience competing with my team,” Krueger said. “I was so pumped from all my teammates cheering me on and I owe so much to (Texas head coach) Eddie (Reese) for preparing me for this moment.”

After successfully claiming his first Big 12 title, Krueger closed out the second night of the biggest meet of the year with a solid shot at heading to the NCAA Championships next month.

“If I go to nationals, I am going to immediately get back into training and do whatever I need to do to keep Coach (Reese) proud,” Krueger said.