AUBURN, Alabama, October 12. THE Auburn swimming & diving team won 24 of 26 events Friday — including a 13-for-13 effort from the men's team — and raced past in-state rival Alabama in the Tigers' season-opening dual meet at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center.
Auburn's men outpaced the Crimson Tide by a score of 175-68, and the Tiger women breezed to a 182-62 victory. The Tiger men and women both improved to 1-0 in the dual meet season while Alabama's men and women both fell to 1-1.
“I was really happy with the attitude and the willingness to race today,” Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. “Like I said earlier, this is not just a regular dual meet. This is Auburn-Alabama. We wanted to show our swimming supremacy in the state, and this kind of kick-starts our SEC season, too. We're feeling good about the way we started.
“We've been itching to get this season started, and Alabama was the opponent that happened to come into our pool today. We were ready to race. The guys have been working hard in the training pool, and it paid off.”
In winning all 13 events, the Auburn men swept the top three spots in three individual events, and the Auburn women earned top-three sweeps in six of 11 individual events. The women took the top two spots in both relays as well.
Senior Kyle Owens and junior Marcelo Chierighini won all three races in which they competed today. Owens helped kick off the meet, swimming the leadoff leg of the 200-yard medley relay and helping a team of Stuart Ferguson, TJ Leon and Zane Grothe to a win in 1:30.66. The team of Brandon Siemasko, Chandler Gerlach, Kevin Behrens and Sam Parker out-touched Alabama's top team for second place in 1:33.69.
Owens followed up with victories in the 200 IM (1:49.42), leading a sweep of the top three spots along with sophomore Alex Hancock (1:49.52) and freshman Jordan Jones (1:53.25), and Owens took the win in the 200 backstroke as well (1:47.57) while Siemasko was second (1:50.42).
Chierighini, meanwhile, clocked a 20.24 to win the 50 freestyle, then came back with a 44.44 to take victory in the 100 free. He then closed out the meet swimming the leadoff leg of the 400 freestyle relay (even faster than his 100 free time with a 44.41), helping the team of James Disney-May, Alex Hancock and Leon to a winning time of 3:00.17.
Likewise, junior Olivia Scott picked up three victories for the women's team. She swam the butterfly leg of the 200 medley relay, helping Aubrey Peacock, Micah Lawrence and Hannah Riordan to a winning time of 1:41.05; the team of Caitlyn Forman, Abby Duncan, Megan Fonteno and Haley Krakoski was right behind in 1:41.75 for a sweep of the top two spots.
Scott also grabbed a win in the 200 IM, posting a time of 2:02.00 as Auburn finished with the top four times in the race. Lawrence was second (2:03.82), Lauren Norberg took third (2:04.12) and Duncan finished fourth (2:06.89). And Scott wrapped up her day by swimming the second leg of the 400 freestyle relay, recording the fastest split of the four as Riordan, Scott, Emily Bos and Krakoski sprinted to a winning time of 3:23.32.
Riordan was also a three-event winner. In addition to the two relays, she picked up a victory in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.05 as Auburn swept the top four spots. Bos took second (23.68), Lindsey Norberg was third (23.71) and Peacock was fourth (23.82). Krakoski picked up a second victory of the day in the 100 free, posting a time of 50.52, while Becca Jones took second (50.70) and Bos was third.
Senior Katie Gardocki swept the two distance events for the Tigers, claiming a win in the 500 free (4:50.94) and 1650 free (16:35.05). Jones also earned the win in the 200 free (1:48.76), leading yet another Auburn sweep of the top four spots with Jillian Vitarius, Alex Merritt and Siena DeVenuto.
The “Baby Backstrokers” came up in a big way for the Auburn women as three freshmen — Vitarius, Caitlyn Forman and Sarah Reynolds — took the top three spots in the 200 back. Vitarius earned the win in 1:57.16, Reynolds took second in 1:59.35 and Forman was third in an even 2:00.00. Lawrence led another sweep of the top three spots in the 200 breast as she clocked a winning time of 2:13.78 while Lauren Norberg was second (2:17.15) and Abby Duncan took third (2:18.05). Sophomore Shanna Schuelein picked up the remaining victory for Auburn, posting a NCAA Zone qualifying score of 288.15 to win the 3-meter diving event.
On the men's side, junior Zane Grothe was another three-event winner. In addition to his triumph in the 200 medley relay, he blew away the field to win the 1650 free in 15:27.55, finishing more than 13 second ahead of his nearest competitor. Grothe then came back later in the meet to storm to a victory in the 500 free as well, clocking a 4:31.16.
Junior John Santeiu IV earned a pair of wins in 1- and 3-meter diving. He opened up with a 348.83 in the 1-meter event to earn an NCAA Zone qualifying score, then came back with another Zone score in the 3-meter event with a 355.58 as he, Michael Beran (341.10) and Fraser McKean (321.68) swept the top three spots. McKean was also second in the 1-meter event with a 321.90.
Sophomore Alex Hancock earned his first collegiate win, holding off a late charge from Alabama's Anestis Arampatzis to claim victory in the 200 butterfly (1:50.90). And junior James Disney-May posted a win in the 200 free (1:39.19) and was runner-up to Chierighini in the 100 free.
Senior Stuart Ferguson closed out the individual portion of the meet by leading one last sweep for the Tigers in the 200 breaststroke. He clocked a winning time of 2:03.17 while Peter Haas took second (2:05.18) and Jordan Jones was third (2:08.42).
The Tigers will be back in action next Saturday, Oct. 20, for another Southeastern Conference dual meet as LSU comes to town. The meet is set for an 11 a.m. start at the James E. Martin Aquatic Center, and admission is free.
“Coming into today, we knew that on paper this was a mismatch, but we fought to the wall in all the close races,” Alabama head coach Dennis Pursley said. “Even down to the end when the meet was out of reach, we didn't stop fighting for it, and that's what I'm looking for right now.
“We swam better than we did last week and if we can get better week-by-week like that, we have a chance to have a good season and that's where our focus has to be,” Pursley said. “A lot of our folks told me after the meet that they're swimming as well or better than they ever have at this point in the season and they're working a lot harder. If you put those two factors together, this group has a chance to do something special at the end of the season relative to what they've done in the past.”
All-American and 2012 Olympian Kristel Vourna won the 200 butterfly, posting a time of 2:02.74, while sophomore Lisa Bogosian's won the 1-meter competition after tallying 273.30 points. Junior Paige McCleary was second off the three-meter board after scoring 287.70 points.
On the men's side of the meet, freshmen Brian Westlake and Brett Walsh picked up second-place finishes at opposite ends of the distance spectrum. Westlake was runner-up in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 15:40.61 while Walsh, making his Crimson Tide debut, was second in the 50 freestyle after touching the wall with a 20.55. Westlake also took second in the 500 freestyle with a 4:35.60.
Junior All-American BJ Hornikel was second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:39.19 while senior Anestis Arampatzis finished less than a tenth of a second out of first in the 200 butterfly, with a 1:50.99.
Alabama has next weekend off from competition while the women return to action on Oct. 26 when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to take on Vanderbilt.
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