MINNEAPOLIS - Virginia's 800 freestyle relay team recorded the highest finish for a relay in school history with its second-place finish Friday at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
Virginia is currently in eighth place after two days of the national meet, which is being held at the University Aquatic Center on the Minnesota campus. The Cavaliers (145 points) trail seventh-place USC by a single point. California leads the field (352) followed by Texas (288.5) and Stanford (278.5).
The 800 freestyle relay team of Matt McLean, Peter Geissinger, David Karasek and Scot Robison placed second in the field with a time of 6:16.59. Robison's anchor split of 1:32.58 was the fastest in the entire field. Only Florida was better, winning in 6:14.88.
"We raced with all we had," Bernardino said. "I give Florida a lot of credit; they front loaded that relay and got out in front of Scot. He had the fastest split and couldn't make it up. He is more concerned with the success of his team and that was never more evident than it was tonight."
McLean and Robison, both seniors, placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200 freestyle. McLean touched in 1:33.22 (topping his prelim time of 1:34.05) while Robison finished in 1:33.30. They both earned All-America honors - it was McLean's first such accolade in the event and Robison's third consecutive award.
"We had our designs on winning; that was where we wanted to be," Bernardino said. "That is what we wanted to do and we had two shots to do it. Both guys swam the best race they could. Scot was right there with 50 to go. He gambled - he went out strong and burned up too much of his legs and that caught up to him at the end of the race. Matt, on the other hand, went out just a little too slow and had a little more energy left than anyone. He made a huge move but couldn't track everybody down. Fourth and fifth place is pretty heady stuff for anybody."
Junior David Karasek tallied honorable mention All-America accolades with a 16th-place finish in the 200 freestyle. He was eighth in the consolation final with a time of 1:36.17, having still yet to swim in the 800 freestyle relay.
Sophomore Matt Houser picked up his second honorable mention All-America title in as many days with a 14th-place finish in the 200 individual medley. He bested his prelim time by touching in 3:45.89 to take sixth in the consolation final. Houser placed 13th in the 200 individual medley on Thursday night, marking his first career honor.
"He came back and had a lifetime best performance, just tremendous courage in that swim," Bernardino said. "He came out and knew where his strengths were. He took advantage of those and got out in front. He tried with all he could to hang on at the end but for his first meet, he was an unseeded swimmer who has scored in two events. I can't say enough about him for doing that."
The 200 medley relay team of Matthew Murray, Taylor Grey, Geissinger and Tom Barrett earned honorable mention All-America accolades with a 15th-place performance in the first event of the evening. The Cavaliers touched in 1:27.40
"They held their position and gave us four points," Bernardino said. "I spoke earlier today about how any singe point today is precious and here we sit one point out of seventh place. Those were four critical points and we're happy to have them, a nice job for that relay."
The third and final day of the NCAA Championships is set for Saturday with preliminaries at 12 p.m. CDT (1 p.m. Eastern) and finals at 7 p.m. CDT.