Tigers Pick Up Four SEC Titles On Day Two Of SEC Championships
Feb. 18, 2010
ATHENS, Ga. - The Auburn swimming and diving team find themselves in a great position at the end of day two of the 2010 SEC Championships at the Gabrielsen Natatorium on the campus of the University of Georgia.
The men hold a slim lead over Florida, sitting in first with 291 points to Florida's 282 points. The women put themselves in a great spot and hold third with 248 points, while Georgia is in first with 300 points and Florida second with 266 points.
"It was a great day for this team," head coach Brett Hawke said. "People came to compete and we saw a team of women today that we haven't seen most of the season. They fought hard to the end; we're still in this and have a great chance going into the third day.
"The men were really strong. We were solid across the board and we held our positions. We need to come in every day, hold our positions and move forward."
The team got a huge boost in the first event of the evening. On the 1-meter springboard, diver Kelly Marx entered the sixth and final round of competition sitting in third place. Marx wasn't fazed as the senior hit his final dive to capture the title with a school-record score of 400.90. The win is Marx's second conference title in the event, having won it in 2008.
"I wasn't planning on setting any record at all," Marx said. "It wasn't going through my mind. I wanted to come in and win this event for the team. I had to take it one dive at a time and stay consistent. I'm just very, very happy I came out on top."
"Kelly put his self in a position to force the issue on the last dive," head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "He stepped up and did what he needed to do to put the pressure on. What Kelly did throughout the contest is something we have been focusing on all season and I'm so proud of him"
Setting a new career-best score was freshman Thad Ellis on the 1-meter. The Atlanta product finished fifth with 382.90 points.
Also putting together a top-performance was diver Vennie Dantin. The sophomore from Conroe, Texas, recorded her first SEC title on the 3-meter springboard with a school and conference-record score of 371.65. The win marks just the third time an Auburn diver has won the event and the first title in three years.
"I had been putting together personal-best scores the entire meet so far and I knew I had it in me," Dantin said. "Jeff had so much confidence in me and that really helped push me even more. I have never considered myself a springboard diver, but with Jeff's help and the team's support, it all came together for me."
"I'm so excited for her," Shaffer said. "She has worked really hard all season and you can see it all coming together more and more each day. What a great way to end the night."
Sophomore Anna Aguero also reached the 3-meter final, coming in eighth with 323.20 points.
"Overall, it really was a just great day for us," Shaffer said. "Our philosophy is to be consistent, step up and compete and minimize mistakes. When you do that, you maximize your opportunity to be successful. We did that from dive one today on both the men and women's side."
Five athletes represented Auburn in the men's 50 free championship final and, for the fifth-straight year, the Tigers came away with a 1-2 finish in the event. Senior Gideon Louw became the eighth-consecutive Tiger to win the conference title, finishing in a NCAA "A" cut time of 19.18.
"It's an awesome feeling to win, but it isn't just a victory for me," Louw said. "I'm here to score points for my team and support all my teammates. That is all that matters right now."
Finishing in second was sophomore Adam Brown, touching the wall with a career-best and "A" time of 19.25.
"I knew it was going to be tough racing Gideon and I'm so happy we went 1-2," Brown said. "It was great race and I'm glad we were able to score a lot of points for our team."
"The 50 free was a key race for us," Hawke said. "It really pushed us ahead and gave us great momentum going into the last race."
After the strong finish in the 50 free, the Auburn sprinters weren't done as the team of Brown, Krug, Fox and Louw ran away with the evening's final race, the 200 free relay. The quartet finished over a second ahead of second-place Kentucky, clocking the nation's fastest time of 1:16.16 in route to Auburn's eighth-consecutive win in the event.
"Our sprinting philosophy is to do something extremely well and then take to the next level as best as we can," Louw said. "We wanted to push it as hard as we could and it was great to come out on top and win big."
Representing Auburn in the women's 50 free championship final was sophomore Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and freshman Hannah Riordan. The pair each recorded season-best times as Vanderpool-Wallace was fifth (22.34) and Riordan seventh (22.53).
Senior Melissa Marik competed in the consolation final of the 50 free, taking 10th overall in 22.86.
The team of junior Caitlin Geary, Vanderpool-Wallace, Riordan and Marik ended the meet strong for the Auburn women, taking second in an extremely tight 200 free relay race with a B time of 1:29.06. That mark was just .05 seconds of Georgia's third-place time of 1:29.11.
"The last relay was so exciting," Hawke said. "Our team out-split the tough Georgia team and it was a fantastic performance."
Swimming in her fourth-consecutive 200 IM championship final was senior Ava Ohlgren. It was a tight race for the top spot throughout the race and the captain came out with a third-place finish in a B time of 1:56.42. Geary swam in the consolation final, coming away with a 13th-place finish in a B time of 2:00.92
Senior Tyler McGill was the men's top finisher in the 200 IM, finishing sixth in 1:45.07. Junior Andrew Mitchell took seventh in 1:46.80, while freshman Kyle Owens was 11th (1:46.50) and junior Adam Klein was 14th (1:46.87).
Freshman Katie Gardocki, competing in her first-ever championship final, led the Tigers in the 500 free as she finished fourth in a career-best and NCAA "B" cut time of 4:42.36. Senior Maggie Bird took sixth in 4:44.28, while sophomore Stephanie Horner was eighth in 4:45.94.
"I'm really proud of Katie," Hawke said. "To come into the finals as a freshman and take fourth was huge for both her and the team. "
Senior Will Dove represented Auburn in the 500 free, taking 14th in season-best time of 4:24.10.
Competition continues at the SEC Championships Friday with the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, men's platform and 400 medley relay
Preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium, while the finals start at 6 p.m. with the 400 IM. Live results and video streaming are available at www.georgiadogs.com.
Auburn Swimming and Diving
Auburn Top Finishers - Women: 500 Free - 4. Gardocki (4:42.36); 200 IM - 3. Ohlgren (1:56.42); 50 Free - 5. Vanderpool-Wallace (22.34); 3-meter - 1. Dantin (371.65); 200 Free Relay - 2. Geary, Vanderpool-Wallace, Riordan, Marik (1:29.06).
Men: 1-meter - 1. Marx (400.90); 500 Free - 14. Dove (4:24.10); 200 IM - 6. McGill (1:45.07); 50 Free - 1. Louw (19.18); 200 Free Relay - 1. Brown, Krug, Fox, Louw (1:16.16).
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