SOUTH BEND, Indiana, October 11. THE Dennis Stark Relays featured strong teams from Michigan, Indiana and Auburn as a season-opening meet for meet host Notre Dame. The competition featured unorthodox relay events among some typical ones in its 49th annual outing.
The meet started with the 200 free relay, and Auburn took the women’s and men’s races. The women touched in 1:31.28 with Emily Bos (23.05), Aubrey Peacock (22.91), Megan Fonteno (22.88) and Allyx Purcell (22.44) dominating the race. Auburn is the reigning NCAA champion in the 200 free relay, and they showed why with a one-second win over a strong Michigan team. Three of the four swimmers on the NCAA-winning team — Marcelo Chierighini (20.47), James Disney-May (19.87) and TJ Leon (20.33) — participated today and were joined by Kyle Darmody, who posted a 19.78 anchor leg for a time of 1:20.45 over Michigan’s 1:21.53. Notably, Frank Dyer of Notre Dame tied Chierighini for the fastest leadoff time of the event with a 20.47 to help the Fighting Irish place third with a 1:23.24.
The Auburn women took the 400 medley relay with a 3:44.18. Bos (53.41 backstroke), Fonteno (55.30 butterfly) and Purcell (49.76 freestyle) were back in action immediately after their 200 free relay win, and were aided by Annie Lazor’s 1:05.71 breaststroke leg. The men from Michigan were dominant in the 400 medley relay with a 3:15.11 that included Jason Chen (49.33 backstroke), Richard Funk (53.61 breaststroke), Dylan Bosch (47.60 butterfly) and Anders Nielsen (44.57 freestyle).
Notre Dame picked up its first win of the day with a 7:24.98 in the women’s 800 free relay, thanks to a come-from-behind swim by anchor Katie Miller to overtake Indiana, who was second with a 7:25.77.
Michigan took control early in the men’s 800 free relay with a 6:35.25, using consistent legs by Jack Mangan (1:39.56), Justin Glanda (1:38.05), Connor Jaeger (1:39.04) and Michael Wynalda (1:38.60) to beat Auburn (6:46.32) and Notre Dame (6:52.80). Interestingly, Notre Dame did not use Dyer in this relay. Dyer was an All-American 200 freestyler in 2012 and might have helped the Fighting Irish place second in the event.
The meet continued with unusual relays, starting with the 4×100 individual medley relay. Bos led off in her third event of the day with a 56.86 for Auburn, followed by Lazor (59.49), Kristen Murslack (59.44) and Sarah Peterson (57.33) to help the team win with a 3:53.12. Notre Dame (3:54.29) and Indiana (3:59.26) were second and third.
Michigan was on pace to win the men’s 4×100 individual medley relay, but Kyle Whitaker drew a disqualification on his anchor leg, giving Auburn the win with a 3:26.76 using Joe Patching (51.28), Michael Duderstadt (51.32), Kyle Darmody (51.41) and Disney-May (52.75). Reports indicate that Whitaker had posted the only sub-50 second 100 IM of the day before his DQ.
Purcell, Peacock and Fonteno were victorious for Auburn in the 3×100 butterfly relay with a 2:47.25 over Indiana (2:49.67) and Notre Dame (2:51.76).
After the DQ in the 400 IM relay, Michigan got back to its winning ways with a victory in the men’s 300 butterfly relay, posting a 2:26.61 with Bosch, Jeremy Raisky and Pete Brumm. Notre Dame was second with a 2:29.44, and Auburn was third with a 2:30.75. Chierighini, likely feeling the effects of multiple races, was on pace to give Auburn the second-place points with a 21.73 opening 50 of his anchor leg, but faded badly with a 28.02 second 50 yards.
Bos stepped up for her fourth event of the day and led off the women’s 3×100 backstroke relay. Her leadoff time of 53.92 helped Auburn win with a 2:43.89 a win that was aided by Jillian Vitarius (55.00) and Sarah Reynolds (54.97). It should be noted that in backstroke relays, all swimmers except the leadoff swimmer get the advantage of diving off the blocks.
Auburn took the men’s backstroke relay as well, with Patching (49.06), Darmody (48.34) and Jacob Siar (49.69) combining for a 2:27.09. After leading with a 48.97 opening swim by Jason Chen, Michigan fell to second with a 2:28.58.
NCAA finalist Emma Reaney helped Notre Dame cruise to the win in the women’s 3×100 breaststroke relay. Reaney led off with a 1:01.77, followed by Danielle Margheret (1:06.22) and Christen McDonough (1:05.19).
Buoyed by NCAA bronze medalist Richard Funk, Michigan had no problem winning the men’s 300 breast relay with a 2:47.23. Mat McNamara posted a 57.13 leadoff before Kyle Duckitt (56.59) and Funk (53.51) took over. Notre Dame led through the first two legs on the strength of Colin Babcock’s 56.82 and Cameron Miller’s 56.58. Pat Olson couldn’t keep up with Funk’s blazing leg, posting a 57.44.
Lindsay Vrooman, an NCAA finalist in the 500 free, helped Indiana get big points on the board with a solid swim to win the 2×500 freestyle relay. After Haley Lips led off with a 4:59.12, Vrooman closed with a 4:56.56 to post a combined time of 9:55.68. Auburn led for 550 yards with Ashley Neidigh’s 4:57.01 leadoff, but fell off the pace with Maryelizabeth Warhol’s 5:00.64.
With two of the best distance swimmers racing for the Wolverines, Michigan was destined to win the men’s 2×500 free relay. Sean Ryan started off with a 4:30.22, then handed it over to NCAA champ Jaeger, who sealed the deal with an easy 4:35.27 to post a 9:05.49.
The women’s 200 medley relay featured a strong closing half by Notre Dame, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Auburn, who won with a 1:43.38. Bos, who got a two-event break from racing, participated with Lazor, Fonteno and Purcell. Notre Dame’s Sarah Dotzel, Margheret, Genna Heidkamp and Courtney Whyte was second with a 1:44.44.
Michigan, the reigning NCAA champion in the 200 medley relay, won today with a 1:29.33. Bruno Ortiz, who swam breaststroke in this event at the NCAAs, was put on the backstroke leg, making way for Funk to swim breaststroke. John Wojciechowski on the fly leg and Vinny Tafuto on freestyle had a tough race with Notre Dame and Auburn. Notre Dame was second with a 1:29.91 while Auburn was third in 1:30.48.
The final swimming event was the 400 free relay, and the Auburn women were dominant with a 3:22.80. Bos, swimming in her sixth event of the day, posted a 50.67 leadoff, followed by Purcell (50.63), Haley Krakoski (50.51) and Peacock (50.99).
The men’s 400 free relay was not as clear-cut as the women’s event. Auburn had the lead for 350 yards thanks to the first three legs swum by Chierighini (44.36), Darmody (44.63) and Disney-May (44.88). But the Tigers ran out of top sprinters, with Alex Press only able to muster a 45.20 that wasn’t enough to hold off Michigan’s Bruno Ortiz, who split a 43.74 to give Michigan the win with a 2:58.25 to Auburn’s 2:58.31. Other swimmers for Michigan included Justin Glanda (45.51), Nielsen (44.56) and Wynalda (44.44).
The Auburn women won the swimming portion of the meet with 180 points to Notre Dame’s 142 and Indiana’s 138. Michigan and Auburn had the lead multiple times through the meet, with Michigan claiming the win with 168 points to Auburn’s 152.
Results of diving were not immediately available. Those results could change the outcome of the final points tally.