ATHENS, GA., December 7. GEORGIA'S Lady Bulldogs will take a commanding lead 801.5 – 643 lead into the final evening of action tonight at the 2000 Bulldog Invitational.
But the 'Dawg men have their work cut for them as Florida State has a 714.5 – 666 lead heading into the final evening of competition at Gabrielson Natatorium. Penn State is third (489).
"We had a terrific night tonight [Saturday]," said Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle. "which was good because we did not have such a good morning. We changed some things around and had some big-time swims tonight."
The Georgia women added to their lead early with a first and third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. The foursome of Neka Mabry, Lindsey Ertter, Mary DeScenza and Maritza Correia stopped the clock in 1:41.30 to win, with Florida State second (1:41.70). Georgia's "B" team of Jordan Wallace, Katie Yevak, Tricia Harm and Paige Kearns took third (1:44.40).
'Dawg froshwoman Mary DeScenza, who swam the 100 fly at last year's World Championships in Fukuoka and was a finalist, continued her impressive rookie season with a win in — what else? — the 100 fly.
Ms D clocked a pr, Georgia-record and NCAA auto cut of 53.00, not too far from the Southeastern COnference record of 52.64 by Auburn's Kristie Krueger from the 1994 NCAAs in Indianapolis. DeScenza's old pr was a 53.13 from the Illinois high school championships in the fall of '00. DeScenza says she's looking forward to racing American/collegiate record-holder Natalie Coughlin of Cal at NCAAs.
Georgia's Maritza Correia, who on Friday night splashed to a nation-leading, seasonal-pr and NCAA "A" cut of 22.34 to win the 50 free, added the 200 this evening with a 1:48.21 victory. She ranks No. 2 on the all-time 'Dawg list with her pr of 1:45.48 from the '00 SECs, only behind teammate Stefanie Williams' record 1:44.48 from last sping's NCAAs here in Athens.
Correia has exceptional versatility for a sprinter. She has the American/NCAA-record in the 50 free (21.69), is No. 2 all-time in the 100 (47.56), is a strong 200 freestyler and — AND — went 4:40.02/
16:09+ for the 500-1650 frees two years ago at SECs.
Neka Mabry led a 1-2 Georgia finish in the 100 backstroke as she finished with an NCAA "B" cut of 55.34. Wallace was right behind with a "B" cut 55.83.
In the 100 breast, Florida State got on the board with a career-best 1:01.92 from Emma Dutton, the Seminoles' English import, who also won the 200 IM Friday night in a pr and FSU record 2:01.71. Georgia's Ertter was runner-up (1:02.18) with Penn State's Courtney Stnachok (1:02.54) taking third.
Another 'Nole, Canadian Andree Anne-Leroy, a transfer from Washington State, won the 400 IM in a solid 4:19.52. She was runner-up in the 200 IM with a pr 2:01.9. Georgia's Rebecca Rose posted a runner-up finish in the 400 individual medley with her NCAA provisional 4:20.77.
The Lady Bulldogs put an exclamation on the finals session with a "B" cut 7:20.43 to win the 800 freestyle relay. The tandem of Rose, Kearns, Samantha Arsenault and Correia won, while the team of Hardt, Wallace, Grams and Harm finished fourth in 7:31.91.
"We had some breakthrough swims, especially Rebecca Rose and Sam Arsenault," added Bauerle. "We could not have been more happy about that. Maritza was her typical good self. Mary DeScenza swam a lifetime best, and that is pretty hard when your lifetime best is one of the best times in the country. By and large, it was a really strong performance on the women's side."
* * * * *
'Dawg sophomore Robert Margalis, last season's NCAA runner-up in the 400 IM to USC's Erik Vendt (who swam a blazing 3:41.49 at Texas Friday night, No. 1 nationally) led a 1-2 punch in this race. Margalis clocked an NCAA "B" time 3:51.09, followed by Brent McAuliffe in second with a 3:56.72.
Florida State began tonight's competition by sweeping the top two spots in the 200 medley relay, with their
"A" team winning in 1:28.71 and the "B" foursome taking second in 1:30.35. Georgia grabbed the bronze with its 1:31.61.
Penn State's Eugene Botes, Nittany Lion record-holder in the 100 free-fly and defending Big 10 champ in both races, won the fly here in a modest 48.96 to FSU's Devin Croal's 48.98. Botes' pr is a 47.01 and he's been 42.90 for the 100 free leading off the 400 sprint relay.
Randy Lam was Georgia's top finisher in the butterfly with a 49.42 for fourth place.
Another Happy Valley swimmer, freestyler Todd Minnier, raced to a seasonal pr 1:37.02 to win the 200 free, with Florida State's Fernando Jacome in hot pursuit (1:38.48).
Penn State is in the middle of heavy training now but come the Big 10s late next February, the Nittany Lions should be ready to give triple-defending champ Minnesota a run for the title — as should No. 1 ranked Michigan, which has swum exceptionally well this fall.
Florida State's Namibian Olympian, Wickus Nienaber, perhaps his country's only world-class swimmer, led a 1-2 FSU sweep of the 100 breast, winning in a pr 54.61. Teammate Justin Betts also went a pr 54.72 for second.
The 'Nole and Atlantic Coast Conference record is 53.16 by former South African Olympian Brendan Dedekind, who's also FSU and ACC record-holder in the 100 free (42.96) from a few eyars ago.
Georgia's Scott Gardner also turned in a season-best 55.39 to finish third.
Florida State padded its point-total by taking the 100 back as Chris Vytheulkas won in 50.39.
Georgia ended the night by taking first and fifth in the 800 freestyle relay. The 'Dawg quartet of Margalis, Alleyne, Owen and Mahaney stopped the clock in 6:38.97.
UGA's women and men divers turned in solid performances. Todd Avery took top honors on the 3-meter (587.10), while Kris Daugherty finished fourth with 541.10 points. Brooke Bassham won the 1-meter competition with 577.65.
"We did a great job on the men's side, especially Scott Gardner and Robert Margalis," added Bauerle. "I think we are going to be a little bit behind Florida State, but I think we can make a little run at them tomorrow when we get to the 200s. We just need to finish it up.
— Bill Bell
Team Scores after Day Two:
1. Georgia 801.50
2. Florida State 643
3. Penn State 451.5
4. Alabama 344
5. Minnesota 111
Team Scores after Day Two:
1. Florida State 714.5
2. Georgia 666
3. Penn State 489
4. Alabama 458.5
5. Minnesota 86