Feb. 17, 2006
Knoxville, Tenn. - The third day of competition at the SEC Championships proved to a successful one for both the Auburn men and women's team as three individual and two relay titles were won on Friday evening in Knoxville. The Tigers took both men and women's 100 back and 400 medley relay crowns in addition to the women's 400 IM title. Tiger's Rachel Goh, Julie Stupp and Doug Van Wie walked away with two titles on the day as AU's men sit first with 748 points and the women in second with 693 points.
"We are pleased with how the team recovered after a sub-par morning," Auburn head coach David Marsh said. "We really rallied well and had a good evening. I am very happy that Doug had a chance to go out an SEC Champion in both the medley relay and 100 back. Tomorrow morning is the big day and we will have to swim very well if we want to catch Georgia's women and stay in the lead on the men's side. Tomorrow is Florida's best day and potentially our best day on the women's side. It will be a matchup of Florida's distance and our sprinter's for the men."
Auburn dominated the final two events of the evening - the 400 medley relay - by taking both the men and women's title. The women were up first and the winning group consisted of Goh, Stupp, Tawnie Bethune and Emily Kukors. Both Stupp and Goh picked up their second SEC title of the day with the victory in the relay. Goh led off on the back leg with the fastest split of the field, 53.07. Georgia and Florida gained momentum on the next two legs, but Kukors was just too strong, blasting out in a 48.12 split in the anchor position.
The men's 400 medley relay team - Wie, James Wike, Alexei Puninski and Cesar Cielo - put a stamp on the evening with a commanding 3:09.03 final time for the win. The SEC title in this event returned to Auburn after one year off as AU won the previous four titles (2001-2004). The Tigers trailed Florida after the back and breast leg's but Puninski took the lead from UF's Lucas Salatta in the fly (46.22). Cielo did what he does best - sealed the deal - in the anchor position with a 42.46 free split.
"I am really happy to be part of the Auburn team," Puninski said. "I just went out there to do my job and try and prove myself to my team. This is my first SEC competition and I think I am doing pretty good. I am looking forward to NCAA's now. It is just great to be an Auburn Tiger."
With the fastest time in the NCAA this year, 4:09.30, AU's Stupp captured her first SEC title to continue Auburn's dominance in this event as the streak is now extended to seven. Kirsty Coventry took back-to-back titles from 2004 to 2005 and Maggie Bowen won the event all four years as a Tiger (2000-2003). Teammates Adrienne Binder and Lauren Duerk completed the Auburn sweep, its first on the women's side and the second for the team at this meet. Binder posted her first `A' cut in this event, touching the pads in 4:14.01 and was closely followed by Duerk in 4:14.44.
"It is an awesome feeling," Stupp said. "I just went out there and swam with my teammates next to me. I just wanted to do it for Auburn."
Also earning critical points for the Auburn team was Anne Amardeilh who ended up sixth with a time of 4:17.80. This was her first time competing in a 400 IM SEC final as she was 13th last year and 11th in 2004. Adding to the AU total was Hayley Peirsol and Danielle LeClair in the C final. Peirsol won the final in a season best 4:18.37 and LeClair was second in 4:19.96. When the point total is added, 99 points were earned in just this event.
Wie's attempt to repeat as champion in the 100 back was successful on Friday evening. The victorious senior who remains humble despite his accomplishment improved his automatic qualifying time by 0.65 from the morning session to capture the title over the Tennessee pair of Brad Boswell and Michael Wolfe. Van Wie's time is the fifth best in the nation to date.
"I tried not to put too much pressure on myself to try and defend my title," Van Wie noted. "I just wanted to have a great race and let that dictate my finish. The Tennessee's swimmers have been swimming really well so I knew it would be close and that pushed me to do my best."
Also swimming in the championship 100 back final was Scott Goodrich who has had quite the meet so far. Goodrich swam his fastest SEC final time in this event to finish fifth, one place lower than last year in Gainesville. Also contributing to the AU team was Joey Schneider who ended up ninth (49.36) and Nick Bovell in 12th (49.89).
Just over a second off the Auburn record, AU rising star Rachel Goh earned her first SEC title in the 100 back by defeating teammate Jeri Moss. Goh bettered her prelim time by more than a second to 53.25 to get the win over Moss, 54.01. Moss' time was her fastest final time of her career at the championship and her highest finish of any event. Goh moves into third on the AU all-time top performer's list with this time and in second place in the national standings.
"It is just so exciting to be here," Goh said. "I love being in Auburn and getting to compete in the SEC and NCAA's. It is such a different world here in the U.S. compared to Australia and I love being a part of it."
Emily Kukors had the time advantage going into the 200 free final as she posted the fastest prelim time of 1:45.42. Swimming with just four one-hundredth's of a second slower time in the final she was passed by Georgia's Kara Lynn Joyce for the title. Joyce swam a school record 1:43.54 for the win. In the B final, AU was well represented by a trio of competitors, led by Kristen Hastrup who swam a faster final time of 1:47.96 to end up eighth overall. Jana Kolukanova placed 11th (1:48.58) and Emile Ewing was 12th (1:48.87). Chelsea Haser lowed her provisional time in the C final to 1:49.34 and grabbed five points for the AU team.
James Wike took it to the wall with Alabama's SEC and NCAA Champion Vlad Polyakov in the 100 breast. Polyakov stretched to the wall for the 0.39 win over Wike. Wike's time of 53.94 was just over the automatic qualifying time. Teammate Kurt Cady turned in his best finish of his career with nearly a new PR, 54.96. In the B final, Sean Osborne finished second and eighth overall with an improved time of 55.15 and teammate Jon Roberts was 10th (55.19).
"It was a fun race and I had fun with it," Wike noted. "I pretty much had no expectation going in against the defending national champion, which is always a tall task. I tried to just go out and race with him and be in my own race. He got me in the end but I put up a good fight."
In diving action, reigning SEC platform champion Steve Segerlin looked in position to extend the AU win streak on tower to five, as he led after prelim's. Georgia's Chris Colwill was just too strong in the final's and just squeaked by Segerlin for the win 432.75-390.20.
"Three second's is a great meet," head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "He is obviously a little disappointed in missing three of his six dives. We have some work to do before Zone's and NCAA's if he is going to put himself in a position to win an NCAA title on tower. Sometimes you can learn more from making mistakes than doing well, hopefully that will be the case with Steve."
Eric Shanteau was in position to earn his first SEC title as the senior had the fastest qualifier after the morning session, 3:47.80. Florida's Bradley Ally got out to a strong start but Shanteau pulled even and took the lead during the breast leg. Georgia's Sebastien Rouault came from behind to take the title in the last 25 meters of the race. Shanteau finished with a season best 3:45.69 and another `A' cut. Tiger Mark Johnson won the C final in a season high 3:52.77 for the provisional qualifier. He was followed by Nick Bovell who was clocked a 3:54.97.
With more than a second improvement from the morning and less than an hour after winning the 400 IM, Stupp posted a lifetime best 1:01.43 to place third in the 100 breast final. This was her highest finish in this event at the SEC Championship as she was eighth last year. Alicia Jensen had a half-second improvement in B final, to win, in a time of 1:02.91.
Alexei Puninski got the `A' cut that he was looking for in the 100 fly as he competed with Florida's Ryan Lochte for the title. Lochte was successful lin the attempt in an SEC record time of 46.02. Puninski followed in 47.22 with teammate Jakob Andkjaer not far behind in fourth, 47.94. Bryan Lundquist added 10 points to the team total with an 11th place finish overall (48.93).
Swimming not for the individual title for the first time in his four-year career, AU's George Bovell cruised to the easy win in the consolation final with a second improvement of his time from the morning, 1:36.12. It was almost the fastest time G. Bovell has posted all season. Teammate Daniel Slocki ended up 11th overall (1:38.77) and Jakob Andkjaer coasted to the win the C final with an improved `B' cut time of 1:38.13.
Tawnie Bethune turned in a much improved 53.73 in the B final of the 100 fly to win and earn the `A' cut. Georgia's Mary DeScenza was the overall champion as the senior won her fourth consecutive 100 fly title. AU's Jeri Moss was 12th overall with a time of 55.12 and Margo McCawley won the C final in a time of 54.89.
Saturday will be the final day of the SEC Championship with prelim's beginning at 10 a.m. ET and final's at 6 p.m. ET. Follow the Tigers live all day on the Tennessee web site's at www.utladyvols.com and/or www.utsports.com.
2006 SEC Championships
Event Winner and Auburn Finishes
1. Chris Colwill (UGA), 432.75
2. Steve Segerlin, 390.20
15. Scott Morgan, 202.70
Men's 100 Fly
1. Ryan Lochte (UF), 46.02 (SEC record)
Women's 400 Medley Relay
1. Auburn (Goh, Stupp, Bethune, Kukors), 3:36.33
Men's 400 Medley Relay
1. Auburn (Van Wie, Wike, Puninski, Cielo), 3:09.03
Current Men's Team Standings
1. Auburn, 748
2. Florida, 659
3. Georgia, 561
4. Tennessee, 545
5. Alabama, 313
5. LSU, 313
Current Women's Team Standings
1. Georgia, 729
2. Auburn, 693
3. Florida, 466
4. Kentucky, 412
5. Tennessee, 379