COLLEGE STATION, Texas, January 12. AUBURN's swimming & diving team played spoiler for the inaugural SEC dual meet at Texas A&M with a pair of victories over the Aggies Saturday at the Texas A&M Student Rec Center.
The Auburn men claimed a 189-111 victory while the Tiger women won by a 158-141 score. Both Auburn teams remained unbeaten on the year with the women improving to 6-0 (4-0 SEC) and the men moving to 5-0 (4-0 SEC).
“It was kind of unexpected, we didn't know how we would come out of the flight, the travel and the racing from Thursday,” Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. “We focused hard on our performance today, and that kind of tipped us over the edge. It would be very easy to shut off after a big win over Texas, but they didn't do that. It just goes to show how focused our team is right now.”
Performances by junior Olivia Scott and the divers proved to be the difference for the Tiger women. Scott won all four of her races, including a crucial victory in the 200 IM to all but clinch the victory. Her time of 2:00.19 was nearly two seconds faster than the second-place finisher from A&M, giving the Tigers a 15-point lead with just the relay to go.
“It came down to Olivia Scott and our women's divers today,” Hawke said. “Olivia was clutch. She performed way above my expectations, but that goes to show what a competitor she is. But it was a total team effort. Diving really came through for us, too. That was huge.”
Scott also came up with two other big individual wins, claiming the 200 freestyle in 1:48.51, then coming back just before the second break with a 52.71 to put the Tigers within striking distance. Scott also provided the butterfly leg on the 200 medley relay that opened the meet with a win. The team of Aubrey Peacock, Lauren Norberg, Scott and Hannah Riordan clocked a 1:39.15 to start the meet off on a high note.
Meanwhile, Shanna Schuelein and Cinzia Calabretta each claimed wins for the Auburn divers to provide the points that put the Tigers over the top. Calabretta posted a 284.18 to claim the 3-meter title with Carly Scheper finishing second, and Schuelein and Calabretta went 1-2 in the 1-meter event with Schuelein posting a 281.25, just one point better than Calabretta.
“Overall, our women placed well, but there's still some things we need to work on to improve our scoring potential as we look toward SECs,” Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said.
Riordan also put together a huge day for the Tigers, winning all four events she entered. In addition to her opening relay, she claimed the 50 free in 22.81 and the 100 free in 49.38 to remain unbeaten in 2013 in the sprint events. She also led off the 400 free relay in 49.28 as the team of Riordan, Megan Fonteno, Haley Krakoski and Peacock clocked a 3:19.86 to clinch the victory.
Freshman Jillian Vitarius made the most of the return to her home state as the Kingwood, Texas, native won the 100 backstroke in 54.49 for Auburn's other women's victory. Micah Lawrence earned a pair of runner-up finishes in the 100 and 200 breaststroke to NCAA record-holder Breeja Larson.
On the men's side, Auburn won 12 of 14 swimming events to run away from the Aggies. Kyle Owens finished off a perfect 8-for-8 week with wins in all four of his races today. He swam the backstroke leg along with Stuart Ferguson, Arthur Mendes and James Disney-May to claim the 400 medley relay title (3:15.11), then came up big in a pair of events he doesn't often swim. He led a 1-2 Auburn finish in the 200 free with a 1:38.59 (Tommy McKee was second), then showed his sprinting ability with a 44.15 to win the 100 free.
He finished off a perfect day as the team of Disney-May, Marcelo Chierighini, TJ Leon and Owens wrapped up the meet with a win in the 400 free relay in 2:56.64.
“Kyle Owens is just having a lights-out season,” Hawke said. “And Stuart Ferguson, he's another one of our captains that's having a great year for us. We've got great leadership up front.”
Ferguson also had another big day, winning both breaststroke events in addition to the medley relay. He led a 1-2-3-4 Auburn finish in the 100 breast with a 54.87, Peter Haas was second in 56.95, Chander Gerlach was third (57.45) and Jordan Jones, another Texas native, was fourth (57.69). Ferugson then came back to win the 200 breast in 2:00.38.
Alex Hancock claimed a pair of victories in the 100 fly (52.71) and 200 fly (1:48.97), Disney-May won the 100 back (48.53), and Spencer Kerns earned his initial victory of the season in the 200 IM (1:51.33). Chierighini also earned another victory in the 50 free with a time of 19.83.
Freshman Andrew Laing earned a second-place finish in 3-meter diving with a score of 330.23, and Justin Youtsey took third place with a 311.48. Fraser McKean was runner-up in the 1-meter event with a 353.78, and Laing had a personal-best score of 328.65.
“Andrew led the day for the divers,” Shaffer said. “He did a personal-best on 1-meter, and stepped up with a second-place on 3-meter. He's continuing to improve, and that's exciting to watch. Thje rest of the guys did some dives that were good, but just lack some polish and finish.”
The Tigers will wrap up the 2012-13 dual meet season on Saturday, Jan. 26, with Senior Day as SEC rival Florida visits the James E. Martin Aquatic Center for a noon meet.
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