Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The OBU Bison Didn't Waste Any Time!

I ate at a steakhouse with three of my athletes after finals at Sectionals on Saturday night.  While there, I checked facebook on my phone and saw that a friend had posted a link to a live-feed Ustream video page of the NAIA National meet going on in Oklahoma City.  Another friend, our former club coach Eduardo is now an Assistant Coach under Sam Freas for the new Men's and Women's teams started at Oklahoma Baptist so I was interested in checking it out, but before I had the chance to even click it, I get a text from Ed that says: "We are down by one point heading into the last relay."

Holy crap!  I gotta get that live video going!  So there we were, me and three swimmers from the club watching the last relay of the NAIA champs on my phone, and on that little screen we witnessed a pretty amazing race.  The OBU men swam three seconds under the national record with a 2:57.83.  They had to swim that fast because Fresno Pacific also went under the record with 2:58!  It was intense, and it was clear that both teams know how to get a group of sprinters ready for a brawl.  What a fantastic swim and what a great way to end a championship meet!

I am not sure if there have ever been any first year programs that have won a National Championship at any level in any sport.  I would imagine that their AD is patting himself on the back for hiring Dr. Freas to build the program from scratch.  What most people don't know about their men's team success story is that there were some behind the scenes happenings at the meet that very easily could have knocked their team out of contention entirely.

You see, on Thursday night, Ed texted me to read him the Sectional deck entry guidelines from the meet info.  He told me that three of their athletes were not going to be allowed to swim at the NAIA nationals and they didn't want to waste their shave, so they thought they might drive to Jenks to get some swims in.  Apparently, OBU entered 21 athletes into the meet.  The meet info said they could only swim 18... it didn't specify that they couldn't enter more and then scratch down, which is often allowed at other meets.  When it was discovered, the officials apparently chose three swimmers to scratch according to the meet schedule rather than letting Coach Freas decide who to remove from his championship roster.  They were forced to remove some of their best athletes, including a guy who did a 48.0 100 backstroke in a time trial that weekend!  And to make it even worse, they DQ'd the OBU 200 Medley Relay since one of the swimmers they took out of the meet had already swam on it!

It was all a disagreement on the rules interpretation and from the sound of it there aren't any hard feelings.  I was just very surprised when I got the text telling me it was coming down to the last relay and I was thrilled to have a chance to watch it live.  Of course, it was a little weird when everyone else was watching basketball on big screens and we were watching swimming on a phone... but hey, I'll take it.

Congrats to the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison.  Your men and women really put on a great show.  I wish I could have watched the whole meet.  You just pulled off a spectacular feat.


  1. Awesome, I had no idea that's what it came down to! I coached a kid who was hoping to swim in college but education came first (studying to be a pastor). He found OBU and the rest is history. He swam amazing this past weekend, putting up times I didn't think he would ever get to (despite what we all thought he was capable of). So excited for him (Andrew Nelson) and the rest of the Bisons!

  2. Sam Freas' book "Sprinting" is probably my favorite coaching read to date. Maybe I oughtta contribute that to Gus's book club.

  3. I actually go to OBU, and I was on the swim team. Not the championship swim team, mind you, but the Level II or something group. (Neophytes, we were called.) Unfortunately, I had to drop out due to class conflicts, but I am very proud of my teammates, and I'm proud to be a Bison. I hope next year will be just as successful.

  4. What an unbelievable meet. I dont think i will ever forget it. The way OBU came back in the last day event after event until they get behind by one point before the relay... And that relay... NAIA national record by 3 seconds!! I'm very proud of you guys!

  5. Thanks for your writeup Shawn. It's a beautiful reminder of what has happened.

    Unfortunately, there is a cloud over this title. There was a tragic accident, and one of the Oklahoma Baptist swimmers died this week at the pool. We're in shock. The emotional highs and lows are just unbelievable.

    1. Wow - sorry for your loss.