March 17, 2006
Athens, Ga. - Auburn freshman Rachel Goh made Auburn history during the second day of competition at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships by becoming the first female Tiger to capture the 100 backstroke title. In addition, 17 Tigers were awarded All-American honors to bring the two-day total to 33. In the team race, Auburn stands in second place with 326 points and looks to close the Georgia 53 point gap on Saturday.
"Tonight built up as the meet went on," Auburn head coach David Marsh said. "Certainly the 100 back, 3-meter diving, 400 IM and our 800 relay were highlights tonight."
For the first time in Auburn history the 100 back title comes home to the Plains as Goh blasted through the field in a pool record and personal best time of 52.35. After the first 50 yards she trailed Arizona's Jenna Gresdal but after a strong push off the wall and an incredible 26.69 final split, Goh took over the lead and touched the wall .39 ahead of Gresdal. Her time was just three one-hundredths of a second from the Auburn record (Kirsty Coventry).
"It feels so amazing right now," Goh said. "I just wanted to go out there and do it for my Auburn team. I just went out there and give it my all and it was great."
Becoming the first freshman female diver ever in Auburn history to grace a diving final, Corey Gerlach went in with a nothing to lose attitude and produced a third place finish on 3-meter with a new Auburn record of 365.65. Gerlach previously held the record but shattered the her mark by more than 21 points.
"I am just overwhelmed," Gerlach said. "I went into the meet telling myself that I had nothing to lose, so I might as well go after each dive as hard as I can because even if it ends up not that great it is okay. I think having more of a carefree attitude helped me relax and really enjoy the whole finals experience."
Gerlach was a mere seven and a half points from becoming Auburn's first 3-meter NCAA champion but Southern California's Blythe Hartley continued her dominance on springboard to take her second title of the meet, 373.15. Indiana's Christina Loukas finished strong on her final two dives to take second, just five and three-fourths points ahead of Gerlach.
"It was just an awesome performance," Auburn head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "You see those dives coming everyday in practice but to put them all together in the championships is just unbelievable. I am kind of emotional right now because it was just a great performance and I am so excited for her."
The 400 IM proved to be a critical event for the Tigers as 48 points were added to the team total from this event. Swimming a career best 4:09.22 (the third fastest ever at Auburn), sophomore Julie Stupp earned the runner up trophy behind Arizona's Whitney Myers who set a new pool record, 4:06.32. Stupp got off to a strong start with a 56.04 backstroke split and stayed neck-and-neck with Myers through the halfway point of the breaststroke leg. She gained momentum in the butterfly and secured her second place finish in the final 100 yards (freestyle).
"It was a huge event for us," Stupp said. "We had a good morning, but not a great morning. We wanted to get the team pumped up and to start a new movement for the remaining finals tonight and both sessions tomorrow."
The final event of the evening did not disappoint the 1,121 fans at the Gabrielsen Natatorium as the AU 800 free relay squad of Jana Kolukanova (1:48.10), Emily Kukors (1:45.97), Jeri Moss (1:46.40) and Adrienne Binder (1:46.65) clocked a 7:07.12 to claim third place. The time was a mere two one-hundredths of a second from the runner up spot as it came down to the wire with Binder and Arizona's Anna Turner. Binder had her best 200 free split ever but Turner made the stretch. Kukors 200 split, 1:45.97, was the third fastest of anyone in the eight team field.
"We somewhat put that relay together at the last minute," Marsh noted. "I think Jeri coming off a disappointing 100 back and having a lifetime best split on the relay is phenomenal. It was Adrienne's best split on an 800 free relay by a long shot. It was a great way to leave the pool tonight."
Swimming the third fastest time ever at Auburn, Kukors blasted out to a third place finish in the 200 free, destroying her lifetime best with a time of 1:44.66. The time was just .18 off the Auburn record set by Kirsty Coventry last year at the NCAA Championship. Kukors sprinted to a 26.32 final 25y freestyle split, the fastest of the field to pass Arizona's Lacey Nymeyer for the third place finish. Kukors was seeded third coming into the meet.
"It was my best time by over a second," Kukors said. "Breaking the 1:45.00 barrier is huge for me; I have been wanting to do it for so long. I really went out there and did it for Auburn. I just put my head down the last 25 yards and just drove it home and touched the wall. Just like yesterday in the 200 IM, I moved up two spots from last year at the championship, so just to get those team points is huge for us right now."
Finishing with the two fastest 50-yard freestyle splits of the field (28.77 and 27.67) in the 400 IM, Binder captured fourth to improve one place from last year at Purdue. Her time of 4:11.83 was more than a second improvement from the morning prelim and the second fastest time at a NCAA Championship in the event. Senior Lauren Duerk's fifth place finish in the 400 IM was her highest placing at an NCAA Championship during her four-year career. Duerk touched the pads in a lifetime best time of 4:12.65
"We were solid today," co-women's head coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said. "I thought our last three events were outstanding. Rachel earned nearly a new school record and the first title of the meet for us, so that was awesome. Corey Gerlach had an incredible performance diving tonight, especially for a freshman competing in her first finals. We finished off with probably the best relay that we could put together tonight."
In exciting 200 medley relay action, the Tigers turned in improved splits on three of four legs to take fifth as two team's were disqualified for early takeoffs (Texas and Southern Cal). Rachel Goh led off with a strong 24.60 backstroke split, the fastest of the championship final (just .09 off her prelim split), to position the Tigers narrowly in first. Kara Denby and Margo McCawley turned in faster splits from the morning session, 28.25 and 24.09, in the breaststroke and butterfly positions to remain with the field. Jana Kolukanova anchored the relay with a 22.41 split to earn 28 points for the AU team.
Georgia took the title for the second straight year with a new Gabrielsen Natatorium record of 1:37.24, anchored by Kara Lynn Joyce's 21.39 freestyle split.
"We knew this meet would require a total team effort and we will just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow morning," Tierney-Walker said.
Junior Tawnie Bethune matched her eighth place finish from a year ago in the 100 fly tonight as she touched the wall in 53.99 (.25 off her prelim time, 53.74). Georgia's Mary DeScenza was the individual champion with a new pool record, 51.56.
In consolation action, senior Jeri Moss turned in her second best finish in the 100 back in her four year career as she finished 13th (54.17). Junior Anne Amardeilh ended up 15th overall in the 400 IM as she was unable to match her prelim time of 4:16.87, as she was clocked at 4:19.85.
- Rachel Goh earned Auburns first ever 100 backstroke title in a new Gabrielsen pool record (52.35). It is the second fastest swim ever at Auburn and just .03 from a new Auburn record.
- Corey Gerlach shattered her own Auburn record on 3-meter by more than 21 points to grab third place. Auburn history is written in the making as she becomes the first freshman to final at the championships in diving.
- An Auburn female has finished either first or second in the 400 IM during the past six years (including this year as Julie Stupp was runner up). Julie Stupp's time of 4:09.22 was the third strongest swim in the 400 IM ever by an AU female.
- Emily Kukors turned in the third fastest time ever by an Auburn female in the 200 free - 1:44.66 - as the time was just .18 off the Auburn record held by Kirsty Coventry.
- Auburn failed to have a qualifier in the 100 breast championship or consolation final. Alicia Jensen was the first alternate in the 17th position. This is the second year in a row that Auburn has missed sending at least one person to every swimming final (last year it was the 200 breast as Lauren Duerk was the top finisher in prelims in 18th, two spots out of the consols).
- Three of four splits in the 200 medley relay were season highs. Rachel Goh had the fastest backstroke split, 24.51, of the entire 20-team field.
- Auburn has only had three people in the championship final of the 400 IM one other time, the 2004 NCAA Championships where AU went on to take the team title. Kirsty Coventry was the runner up, followed by Adrienne Binder in sixth and Lauren Duerk in eighth.
- Rachel Goh continued to excel in the 100 back as the freshman is the No. 1 seed for tonight's final.
Women's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Day 2 Finals
(Winner and Auburn Finishes)
200 Medley Relay
1. Georgia - Tricia Harm (24.63), Sarah Poewe (28.00), Mary DeScenza (23.22), Kara Lynn Joyce (21.39) - 1:37.24 (pool record)
5. Rachel Goh (24.60), Kara Denby (28.25), Margo McCawley (24.09), Jana Kolukanova (22.41) - 1:39.35
1. Mary DeScenza (UGA) - 51.56 (pool record)
8. Tawnie Bethune - 53.99
1. Kara Lynn Joyce (UGA), 1:43.96
3. Emily Kukors - 1:44.66
1. Jessica Hardy (Cal) - 1:00.02
800 Free Relay
1. Georgia - Mary DeScenza (1:44.63), Jessica Cole (1:47.38), Claire Maust (1:46.73), Kara Lynn Joyce (1:45.01) - 7:03.75 (pool record)
3. Jana Kolukanova (1:48.10), Emily Kukors (1:45.97), Jeri Moss (1:46.40), Adrienne Binder (1:46.65) - 7:07.12
1. Georgia - 379
2. Auburn - 326
3. Arizona - 315
4. California - 205
5. Stanford - 164