Vanderpool-Wallace Defends 100 Free Title; Auburn Ties for 7th at NCAAs

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

March 17, 2012

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AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn senior Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace went out with a bang, defending her national championship in the 100-yard freestyle as the 2012 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships came to a close Saturday at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center.

The Tigers finished the meet in a tie for seventh place with a score of 249, tying Southeastern Conference mate Tennessee. California took the team title, scoring 412.5 points, while Georgia was the runner-up with 366. Auburn finished the meet with 31 All-America honors, led by seven from Vanderpool-Wallace. The Tigers also broke six school records during the meet.

"(This meet) was awesome," Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. "It's always a battle, racing some of the top teams in the country, and to come away with a seventh-place finish is a step in the right direction for us. We're moving forward, and hopefully we just continue that trend over the next few years."

Vanderpool-Wallace clocked a pool-record time of 46.88 to outpace Georgia's Megan Romano (47.01) and Arizona's Margo Geer (47.14) and win her second consecutive NCAA title in the 100 free. Her time was still shy of the NCAA record of 46.61, which she set at the SEC Championships last month, but she remains one of two women in history to break the 47-second barrier in the event (Natalie Coughlin).

"It was just emotional," Hawke said. "I really didn't see her pulling it off. She's just tough. She dug down, and I just stayed out of her way tonight. I tried not to give her too much advice. I just said, `Go have fun. Go race and see what happens.' That last 10 yards, she just dug down and wanted it real bad. It was a great win for her."

She was trailing after the first 25 yards, but turned first at 50 yards with a split of 22.47, .13 ahead of Geer. Romano had faster splits in the final 50 yards, but Vanderpool-Wallace found another gear in the final 10 yards and out-touched her two top competitors.

"I actually thought she went out too slow," Hawke said. "I thought she'd be out under 22 (seconds) or around 22 flat. When she turned that slow, I just though Megan (Romano of Georgia) was going to cruise past her. When she flipped first at 75 (yards), I thought she might still be short. I knew those girls would finish strong and I thought she at least put out a good race and fought well. But then she just dug down and fought well. It was really emotional for me. It was a great way to finish her career here at Auburn."

The 400 freestyle relay team of ended the night on a high note as the team of Hannah Riordan, Olivia Scott, Emily Bos and Vanderpool-Wallace earned a runner-up finish in a school-record time of 3:11.49, less than a second behind Stanford. Five Tigers earned All-America honors in the event as Haley Krakoski swam in Vanderpool-Wallace's place in the preliminary.

Auburn was in fifth place after the first 200 yards, but a split of 48.47 from Bos and a blistering 46.36 from Vanderpool-Wallace moved the Tigers into second-place as they broke the school-record time of 3:11.70 that had previously belonged to Vanderpool-Wallace, Caitlyn Geary, Riordan and Bos.

"It was the key race for us because it took us from eighth to seventh," Hawke said. "We've finished eighth the last two years running, and we didn't want to finish eighth again. It took us into a tie with Tennessee, and it shows the SEC is still strong. Even though the Pac-12 is doing a great job, it shows the SEC is still in there fighting hard."

Senior divers Anna Aguero and Vennie Dantin closed out their careers with All-America honorable mention performances in the platform event as both scored in the consolation finals. Aguero finished fourth in the consolation (12th overall) with a score of 273.70, and Dantin had her third scoring performance of the week with a fifth-place (13th overall) score of 256.10.

"Tonight was a little bittersweet," Auburn head diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. "I'm so proud of both of our seniors. I'm proud of Anna for coming back from missing finals in both springboard events. She put together a solid list and got into consolation finals, then improved in the second list. Vennie, she just ran out of gas. What a great run she had all season long. I'm just disappointed for her, not in her. We have the Olympic Trials to look forward to, so I'm sure we'll be prepared for that."

Junior Katie Gardocki had a fast start to her 1650 freestyle, but ran out of steam late in the race and clocked a 16:14.06 to finish 15th overall. It was the second All-America honor of the meet for Gardocki.

Capacity crowds filled the James E. Martin Aquatics Center all week as Auburn played host to the NCAA Championships for the second time. And the fans were treated to a show - a total of seven NCAA records and 15 pool records fell during the meet. Many of the pool records had stood since the last NCAA meet Auburn hosted in 2003.

It will be the men's turn next week. Auburn will send 12 competitors to Federal Way, Wash., for the 2012 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which runs March 22-24 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.

Auburn Swimming & Diving
2012 NCAA Women's Championships - Final Results
March 17, 2012
James E. Martin Aquatics Center - Auburn, Ala.

Team Scores (Top 10): Cal 412.5, Georgia 366, USC 325.5, Stanford 318. Arizona 299, Texas A&M 262, Auburn 249, Tennessee 249, Texas 201, Florida 160.

Auburn Top Finishers: 1650 Freestyle: 15. Gardocki (16:14.06); 100 Freestyle: ... Platform Diving: 12. Aguero (273.70); 400 Freestyle Relay: 2. Riordan, Scott, Bos, Vanderpool-Wallace (3:11.49)

Auburn All-Americans (31)
Anna Aguero (1) - Platform Diving HM
Emily Bos (4) - 200 FR, 400 FR, 200 MR, 400 MR
Vennie Dantin (3) - 1M Diving, 3M Diving, Platform Diving HM
Abby Duncan (1) - 100 Breast HM
Katie Gardocki (2) - 1650 free HM, 800 FR HM
Megan Fonteno (1) - 800 FR HM
Becca Jones (1) - 800 FR HM
Haley Krakoski (3) - 200 FR, 400 FR, 800 FR HM
Lauren Norberg (2) - 200 MR, 400 MR
Hannah Riordan (3) - 50 Free HM, 200 FR, 400 FR
Olivia Scott (4) - 100 fly, 400 FR, 200 MR, 400 MR
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (7) - 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly, 200 FR, 400 FR, 200 MR, 400 MR

Auburn Records Broken During the Meet
100 Butterfly: Olivia Scott (51.46 - prelims)
200 Free Relay: Vanderpool-Wallace, Riordan, Krakoski, Bos - 1:27.82
400 Free Relay: Riordan, Scott, Bos, Vanderpool-Wallace - 3:11.49
400 Medley Relay: Bos, La. Norberg, Scott, Vanderpool-Wallace - 3:30.32 (prelims)
1-Meter Diving: Vennie Dantin (337.60)
3-Meter Diving: Vennie Dantin (379.55)

James E. Martin Aquatics Center Records Broken During the Meet
50 Freestyle: Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Auburn - 21.46 (prelims)
100 Freestyle: Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Auburn - 46.88
200 Freestyle: Megan Romano, Georgia - 1:41.21**
500 Freestyle: Haley Anderson, Southern Cal - 4:34.48
1650 Freestyle: Stephanie Peacock, North Carolina - 15:38.79**
100 Backstroke: Cindy Tran, California - 50.31
100 Breaststroke: Breeja Larson, Texas A&M - 57.71**
200 Breaststroke: Caitlin Leverenz, California - 2:04.76
200 Butterfly: Katinka Hosszu, Southern Cal - 1:51.32
200 IM: Caitlin Leverenz, California - 1:51.77**
400 IM: Katinka Hosszu, Southern Cal - 3:56.54**
200 Free Relay: Stanford (Woodward, Schaefer, Murez, Webb) - 1:26.85
400 Free Relay: Stanford (Woodward, Schaefer, Murez, Webb) - 3:10.77
200 Medley Relay: California (Tran, Leverenz, Fotsch, Jensen) - 1:34.24**
400 Medley Relay: California (Tran, Leverenz, Isakovic, Raatz) - 3:28.10**
**NCAA Record

Auburn Quotes

Head Coach Brett Hawke

On Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace's 50 freestyle win...
"It was just emotional. I really didn't see her pulling it off. She's just tough. She dug down, and I just stayed out of her way tonight. I tried not to give her too much advice. I just said, `Go have fun. Go race and see what happens.' That last 10 yards, she just dug down and wanted it real bad. It was a great win for her.

"I actually thought she went out too slow. I thought she'd be out under 22 (seconds) or around 22 flat. When she turned that slow, I just though Megan (Romano of Georgia) was going to cruise past her. When she flipped first at 75 (yards), I thought she might still be short. I knew those girls would finish strong and I thought she at least put out a good race and fought well. But then she just dug down and fought well. It was really emotional for me. It was a great way to finish her career here at Auburn."

On the 400 freestyle relay's runner-up finish...
"It was the key race for us because it took us from eighth to seventh. We've finished eighth the last two years running, and we didn't want to finish eighth again. It took us into a tie with Tennessee, and it shows the SEC is still strong. Even though the Pac-12 is doing a great job, it shows the SEC is still in there fighting hard."

On the season as a whole...
"It was awesome. It's always a battle, racing some of the top teams in the country, and to come away with a seventh-place finish is a step in the right direction for us. We're moving forward, and hopefully we just continue that trend over the next few years."

On the fast times at the NCAA Championship...
"It didn't surprise me, because this is the fastest pool in the country, we knew that. I just knew that looking at the results from Pac-12s and SECs and a few other conferences, I knew it was going to be a fast meet. It was great to have it at this pool, it really was."

Head Diving Coach Jeff Shaffer

"Tonight was a little bittersweet. I'm so proud of both of our seniors. I'm proud of Anna for coming back from missing finals in both springboard events. She put together a solid list and got into consolation finals, then improved in the second list. Vennie, she just ran out of gas. What a great run she had all season long. I'm just disappointed for her, not in her. We have the Olympic Trials to look forward to, so I'm sure we'll be prepared for that."

Senior Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace

On her reaction to seeing the scoreboard...
"I went into that race wanting to have fun. Everybody that I talked to told me to go in and enjoy what I had left. If I had come in eighth, I probably would've celebrated the same way. I'm so excited to be able to finish up my college career in a happy way, and I saw that I had won, and that was icing on the cake."

On finishing her college career...
"I don't know that it's completely sunk in yet. After the 100 Freestyle, individually all the girls came over and hugged me, and they were crying, and I cried too. I think tomorrow when I wake up I'm going to realize that my college career is actually over."

On the importance of this race...
"I had a whole lot of anger and energy going into this race after not being able to swim at SECs. I came in wanting to prove that I could still win the race, and especially after the 50 Freestyle. I knew a lot of people were doubting if I could win it. I wanted to prove how good of a swimmer I could be."

On her mindset of close competitors...
"I think it is better that I know it's going to be that close going into the race so I know that when I go through a turn, I'm not scared that someone is right there next to me. It motivates me a little bit more. I talked to my coach afterward, and he said that after I turned at the 50 he didn't think I was going to win it, but he said I came off that last 75 wall with guns blazing. I saw the people next to me, and I didn't want to lose."

On how the weekend has been for her and her team...
"The best words to describe it are an emotional rollercoaster. We have been up and down, but this was by far my best NCAAs ever. This is the greatest group of girls that I could ever ask to finish off my career with."

On what's next for her...
"I think that I don't really have any goals now. I came into NCAAs with a bunch of goals, and it didn't really pan out the way I wanted it to, and I realized I just have to throw everything to the wind and do whatever happens. Now I have a whole new mindset going into the Olympics."

Senior Diver Vennie Dantin

"I couldn't be happier with anything. I didn't dive as well as I would have liked today, but I can't complain about a single thing in my entire career. I've just been happy with everything. It's bittersweet because it's the end, but I couldn't have done it with a better group of girls and a better set of coaches."

Senior Diver Anna Aguero

"It's actually really bittersweet to end my career today. I felt like I had a really good meet today. I was really happy with the way I dove. I couldn't ask to end on a better note."