ATHENS, Georgia, December 5. IN what coach Jack Bauerle claimed as one of the finest opening nights of an invitational he's seen out of his Georgia teams, both swimming and diving squads opened up sizable leads on the field after the first day of the University of Georgia Fall Invitational.
The No. 1 Lady Bulldogs racked up 421.5 points Friday night, led by NCAA automatic qualifying times by freshman Wendy Trott and sophomore Chelsea Nauta in the 500 yard freestyle. Cal owns second place with 248.5 points, ahead of Clemson (160), West Virginia (113), Harvard (107) and Denver (103).
The No. 10 Bulldogs totaled 407 points, despite having one of their relays disqualified, after the opening night of competition. Georgia ranks ahead of Denver (211), Harvard (171), West Virginia (170) and Clemson (148) in the teams standings.
"This was the best first day we've ever had," Bauerle said. "We are giving ourselves an opportunity to be a pretty good team. We got to keep on keeping on. I was impressed with a lot of swims today. Wendy Trott was spectacular, and so were Chelsea Nauta and Kelsey Ditto and Kelly McNichols and Morgan Scroggy in the individual medley. Troyden Prinsloo and Mark Dylla both swam spectacular tonight. We are elated with our times and effort and we are looking forward to tomorrow."
Trott and Nauta finished within .06 of each other as Trott touched the wall first with a personal best of 4:35.80 in the 500 freestyle. Nauta was close behind, while Ditto, Abbie Fish and Erica Malagon also placed in the championship finals of the event.
Other individuals winning events for the Lady Bulldogs were Scroggy in the 200 individual medley, one of seven Georgia swimmers to score in the championship heat, with a time of 1:56.84 and Anne-Marie Botek in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.28. Both times reached the NCAA provisional qualifying standard.
Meanwhile for the men, Prinsloo and Bill Cregar finished first and third, respectively, in the 500 freestyle. Prinsloo finished with a 4:15.85 and Cregar finished with a 4:22.80, both NCAA provisional marks. Dylla and Peter Benner claimed a 1-2 finish for the Bulldogs in the 200 individual medley, with Dylla checking in at 1:44.56 and Benner touching the wall in 1:45.71 – both "B" cuts.
Craig Jennings led a Georgia sweep of the top three spots in the 50 freestyle, clocking a lifetime best of 19.73 in the event, achieving the "B" standard. Michael Arnold (20.14) and James Lavender (20.65) rounded out the top three placings.
"I think our kids were really excited to see what they could do," Bauerle said. "I think we kept them pretty tired all through the fall and a little bit of rest showed through and they swam great."
While the Georgia swimmers were showing their dominance in the pool, their diving counterparts were just as strong in the diving well. Hannah Moore scored a personal best on the 3-meter springboard with a score of 328.20 to win the event. Meanwhile, Webb Worthington and Owen Blank led the Bulldogs to second and third place finishes off the 1-meter springboard. Blank's score of 307.55 highlighted the day for Georgia diving, said diving coach Dan Laak, as Blank qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships later this year.
Special thanks to Georgia for contributing this report.