Feb. 22, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Auburn swimming and diving team placed 36 swimmers and two divers into Friday night's finals after qualifying in the morning preliminaries. Auburn's men are currently in a comfortable lead in first by more than 100 points while the Tigers women enter the third day of competition trailing Florida in second place.
Auburn opened the day by qualifying Ava Ohlgren (4:09.93) and Blakeley Bunch (4:16.52) in the 400 IM finals. Freshman Erica Meissner posted a 4:18.82 in prelims to advance to the consolation finals. Ohlgren's time was the fastest overall time in the preliminary heats.
In the men's 400 IM, freshman Andrew Mitchell advanced to finals, touching in at 3:53.15 to make the consolation final. Mitchell's time is his fastest this season.
In the women's 100 fly, Auburn advanced Margo McCawley to the finals with her time of 53.12 - the second-fastest time in the heat and the sixth-fastest time ever at Auburn. Making the consolation finals are Melissa Marik (54.38) and Alana Dillette (54.71).
Alexei Puninski posted the top overall time in the men's 100 fly while also setting a new pool record with his time of 46.35. Joining him in the finals are Tyler McGill (46.83) and Jordan Anderson (47.54). McGill's time was the second overall time behind Puninski.
Also representing Auburn in the 100 fly are Luke Weniger (47.57) and Kohlton Norys (48.58) as they advance to the consolation final.
Senior Emily Kukors
touched in with the second overall time in the women's 200 free (1:45.03), one hundredth of a second behind top qualifier Carolina Burckle of Florida, to advance to the finals. Joining her is freshman Caitlin Geary
as she came in with the third-best overall time of 1:45.37.
Emile Ewing (1:48.14), Maggie Bird (1:48.21) and Chelsea Haser (1:48.52) will advance to the consolation final in the 200 free.
In the men's 200 free, the Tigers were led by 14-time SEC champion Cesar Cielo as he came in with the No. 4 overall time of 1:35.61. Also making the final is sophomore Will Dove with his time of 1:36.97.
In the consolation final, Auburn will be represented by Pascal Wollach (1:37.27) and John Long (1:38.01).
The women came out strong in the 100 breast, sending three to the evening finals and one to the consolation finals. Leading the way is senior Kara Denby after posting the second overall time of 1:01.03. She will be joined by freshmen Melanie Roberts (1:01.83) and Josefin Wede (1:02.22) in the final. Making the consolation heat is Abby MacGregor with her time of 1:02.75.
In the men's 100 breast, sophomore Michael Silva tied for the time overall time of 53.79 with Florida's Clark Burckle. Jon Hiett also made the 100 breast final, clocking a 54.49 in the prelim. Freshman Adam Klein nearly joined his teammates as his prelim time of 54.89 was one hundredth of a second off the cut of making the final, sending him to the consolation heat.
Swimming in their final prelim of the morning, Auburn packed another final as the Tigers advanced three to the championship final in the 100 back, sending another to the consolation final.
McCawley led the charge with the second overall time of 52.74, followed by Marik (53.55) and Julianne McLane (53.89). Dillette was close to making another championship heat as her time of 55.06 was four hundredths off the eighth-place time, giving her the top spot in the consolation final.
The men wrapped up the morning by sending Norys (47.50) to the finals with the second-best overall time in the 100 back. Joining him in the final will be Wollach after his time of 48.08. In the consolation final, Auburn has senior Scott Goodrich (49.32) and Jordan Anderson (49.67).
Auburn's divers, competing in their final event of the meet, sent two Tigers to the evening finals after Dan Mazzaferro posted the top preliminary score on the platform (402.80). Kelly Marx will join him after finishing fourth in prelims with a score of 346.35. Also scoring for Auburn on the tower are Scott Morgan (10th, 281.75) and Caleb Dunnichay (14th, 250.30).
Finals in the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 400 medley relay and platform diving are set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Alabama Aquatics Center.
MEN'S OUTLOOK: Auburn's men have won the 400 IM four times with the last one coming in 2002 from Kevin Clements. Though that streak will continue again this year, Andrew Mitchell can score as many as nine points for the Tigers in the consolation heat. AU has a strong history in the 100 fly, winning the event 12 times at the SEC championships. Auburn looks good to win No. 13 as defending champion Alexei Puninski returns to defend his title as the top overall seed in the event. The Tigers also have a good history in the 200 free, beginning in the late 70s and early 80s with Bill Forrester and Rowdy Gaines, but the last of Auburn's 10 titles in the event came in 2004 from George Bovell. Both Cesar Cielo and Will Dove have a shot to win it this year in the championship final. The Tigers have eight titles all-time in the 100 breast, with the last coming from Mark Gangloff in 2004. With three-time champion Vladislav Polyakov (Alabama) out of the picture, AU's Michael Silva has a good shot at the title after tying for the best time in the prelims. Auburn has seen recent success in the 100 back after winning the title the past three years. David Marsh won Auburn's first title in the event in 1980, making in the first of eight overall. Senior Scott Goodrich will not be able to defend his title after making the consolation finals, leaving Auburn to rely on freshman Kohlton Norys and sophomore Pascal Wollach for a chance to continue the streak. The final swimming event of the evening, the 400 medley relay, is an event that Auburn has clearly dominated in recent years. The Tigers have won the last two and nine of the last 11 for 15 titles overall. Goodrich, Puninski and Cielo return from last year's SEC championship team and will be looking to make it a four-peat. The final event of the day, the men's platform diving, is another that Auburn has dominated recently. The Tigers have won five of the last six titles in the event, but have some shoes to fill after the departure of last year's champion, Steven Segerlin. Dan Mazzaferro has Auburn looking good for a sixth championship in the event after winning prelims with a score of 402.80.
WOMEN'S OUTLOOK: Ava Ohlgren looks to sweep the Individual Medley events with the 400 IM on tap for Friday night. She won the 200 IM last year and again on Thursday night and is the reigning NCAA champion in the event, but is yet to earn a 400 IM SEC title. A victory would be the ninth 400 IM title in a row for Auburn and the 11th overall. In the 100 fly, the Tigers have won seven titles with the last coming from Demerae Christianson in 2002. Margo McCawley posted the second-best time in prelims and will challenge Tennessee's Christine Magnuson in the finals as she attempts to earn an eighth title for the Tigers. Auburn has three SEC titles in the 200 free with the last coming from Margaret Hoelzer in 2004. With Georgia's Kara Lynn Joyce not back to defend her titles, the senior-freshman combo of Emily Kukors and Caitlin Geary will attempt to bring the title back to the Plains. In the 100 breast, the Tigers have only won three championships as Maggie Bowen won the last in 2003. Kara Denby, along with freshmen Melanie Roberts and Josefin Wede will attempt to break the drought tonight, but will face some tough competition as Florida's Caroline Burckle tries to defend her title. The final individual event for the women, the 100 back, is an event Auburn has dominated in recent years after winning the last six titles (10 overall). With Rachel Goh not back this season to defend her title, it will be up to Margo McCawley, Melissa Marik and Julianne McLane to keep the title in Auburn. After winning the last two and five of the last seven, the Tigers will also look to repeat in the 400 medley relay. Auburn will have to rely on a new lineup, however, as only Emily Kukors returns from last year's SEC championship squad.