MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., March 25. DEFENDING champion Auburn’s lead appears more tenuous after the morning qualifying.
It led Arizona by 42 points, Cal by 46 and Stanford by 52 after the completion of last night’s events, but it is the Stanford Cardinal that appears to have most effectively cut into the Tiger’s lead, with Arizona cutting into the gap as well.
Based on the morning swims and adding in scoring for the timed final 4 x 200 free relay the Cardinal actually moves 11 points into the lead. Stanford projects to 317 points with Auburn at 306 and Arizona at 286, but this does not include diving, the preliminary rounds of which are both not yet available AND PIVOTAL.
The diving may determine the meet champion this year as 26 points of Auburn's lead were produced by two divers scoring fourth and eighth on the one-meter board, and the same two divers, Steve Segerlin and Matt Bricker, respectively, are entered on the three meter board, as well. If their scoring is similar on the 3-meter board, that would put the Tigers back on top, but, again, with a much more tenuous lead. Stanford has no divers in the 3-meter event, whereas Cal and Arizona each have one entrant.
The Tigers are likely to increase their scoring tonight. They will likely insert new athletes in the medley relay, grab a higher position in the 4 x 200 relay and get more from senior BJ Jones who qualified only 16th in the 200. He has long been a tough racer for the Tigers and will likely move up significantly from his projected single point.
Yet is interesting to follow the projected point totals. The Cardinal moves into the lead based on the lead qualifying performance of Gary Marshall in the 100 breaststroke, ironically the first time in 68 NCAA events – and that was a relay disqualification – that Auburn has not scored in an event.
Keep an eye on Ryan Lochte. The Gator was only .25 off Neil Walker’s American record in the 100 back at the SEC Championships, leading off the Gator relay, and he has chosen to throw his hat into that ring this week as opposed to another assault on Tom Dolan’s 400 IM record. He improved .05 on his record 200 IM swim from conference but was several tenths ahead of pace at the 100 and 150 so it would appear he has speed available to take down Walker’s mark. He was only 21.37 leading off the 4 x 50 medley after being 20.9 at the conference, but his tendency is for real prelim to final improvements.
Other interesting relay splits included: Bousquet (20.34, 50 fly); USC’s Mihaly Flasky (23.47, 50 breast); Draganja (18.66, 50 free).