Katie Hoff Looks for First Gold Tomorrow as Eric Namesnik Grand Prix Comes to Close

By Erin Greene

ANN ARBOR, Michigan, May 19. THE last session of finals promises to be a show worth sticking around for at the Eric Namesnik Grand Prix, held in Ann Arbor, Mich., May 17-20. A new medley of faces are poised to earn the batch of victories available tomorrow, while Michael Pehlps contests the 1500 freestyle and Katie Hoff goes for her first gold of the meet.

Women's 200 backstroke
With three women under the 2:17 mark, the hunt for gold tomorrow will be hard fought. Aleksandra Putra (2:16.08) currently sits in the No. 1 spot, while teenage phenoms Felicia Lee and Elizabeth Beisel trail her. Lee qualified second in 2:16.32 and Beisel occupies third with 2:16.86.

Familiar faces lined the remaining heat, as Katie Hoff touched in fourth with a time of 2:17.94. Mary Descenza qualified next, posting a time of 2:18.18. Courtney Kalisz and Ava Ohlgren picked up the final two positions, recording times of 2:20.74 and 2:20.88, respectively.

Men's 200 backstroke
The men's 200 back will look like a Club Wolverine practice, as half the field will be made up of Wolverines. Chris DeJong leads the pack with 2:05.82. Keith Beavers of ROW earned the lane next to him as the second-place seed with his time of 2:06.44. Matt Patton will also swim next to teammate DeJong with a seed time of 2:07.94.

Thomas Haffield clocked in next at 2:08.26. Brent Hitchcock turned in a time of 2:08.97 for fifth. Wolvernines Charlie Houchin and Dane Grenda and hit the wall next, swimming times of 2:09.00 and 2:10.60, respectively. The final seed went to Austin Surhoff, who swam the race in 2:11.42.

Women's 100 freestyle
Not surprisingly, the sprint freestyle event will be a close race tomorrow morning. Vanessa Garcia (57.52) leads the division by just one one-hundredth, followed hometown favorite by Allison Schmitt (57.53). Allison Hupman (57.72) checked in next but not without a fight from Emily Wong (57.79).

Slightly out of sight, but certainly not out of the contest for the gold will be Lindsey Smith (58.14), Rachel Goh (58.24), Caroline Burckle (58.26) and Kim Jasper (58.35).

Men's 100 freestyle
Just as the women's race will be close, the same can be said of the men. With just over one second separating first and eighth places, the fight for first will be paid for with muscles and lungs. Peter Vanderkaay will head up the race tomorrow, as he earned the inside lane in a time of 51.95.

Joe Doyle will swim to his left in the No. 2 spot, seeded with a time of 52.36. Vanderkaay's teammae Bobby Savulich will swim to his right at the No. 3 spot, with a time of 52.46. Kyle Smerdon grabbed the last inside lane with his time of 52.54.

Taking the outside lanes will be Bryan Lundquist (52.58), Bennet Clark (52.29), Joseph Smutz (52.91) and Chris DeJong (53.04).

Women's 200 breaststroke
Normally, Katie Hoff often finds herself vying for titles in Lane 4. However, swimming some different events this weekend, she has battled for the chance to swim in the inside lane. She came up victorious this afternoon as she posted the fastest time of 2:35.85 in the 200 breast.

Jessica Ward swam the second-fastest time of 2:36.25. Helen Pitchik hit the wall next in 2:36.86. Ashley Wanland was responsible for fourth place in 2:37.41.
Amilee Smith touched in half a tenth later at 2:37.45.

Mhyria Miller (2:38.62), Kaitlin O'Brien (2:39.21) and Agus Degiovanni (2:39.28) earned the chance to swim the event again in the final three spots.

Men's 200 breaststroke
Neil Versfeld secured his spot in the championship final when he opened up the largest margin between the competition that there has been all weekend. His time of 2:17.93 downed the group by seven seconds.

Rob Holderness (2:24.16) and Clark Burckle (2:24.56) will likely contend for the silver, as they qualified in the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively. Bogdan Knezevic (2:25.29) will take a shot at the medal range as the fourth-fastest swimmer heading into tomorrow. Scott Spann swam into the fifth-place seed in 2:25.39.

Brad Craig advanced to the finals with a time of 2:25.67. Tyler Harris and Marco Monaco locked into the championship heat with times of 2:26.12 and 2:26.16, respectively.

Women's 200 butterfly
Holding strong to her first-place entry seed, Kim Vandenberg remained ahead of the crowd when she swam the race in 2:13.08 heading into the last session of finals tomorrow. However, the victory won't come easy as Jemma Lowe posed a threat with her 2:13.40. Sure to be a tough competitor, Kaitlin Sandeno sits in third at 2:15.66.

Kaia Simmons (2:15.66), at just 15 years of age, will vie for a chance at a medal in the fourth-place position. Veteran Mary Descenza, however, is behind her with a time of 2:16.49. Kailey Morris began a trinity of times in the 2:18-range. She completed the event in 2:18.12 to lead the remaining two swimmers.

Karie Haglund was just a fraction of a second behind at 2:18.21, while Brittany Barwegen grabbed the last position in finals with 2:18.95.

Men's 200 butterfly
There's no better way to prepare for the 200 butterfly than to train with a reigning world champion. Davis Tarwater (2:04.65) and Matt Patton (2:06.22) proved this to be true when they notched two of the Top 3 spots in tomorrow's finals in the event. However, they will be separated by Daniel Madwed (2:03.63) who showed the Wolverines he was a force to be reckoned with in the pool.

Omar Enriquez Tenorio, whose entry time did not even make the circle seed, will swim the event again in the fourth-place spot. Gil Stovall clocked a time of 2:07.24 for the fifth-place seed. Pablo Marmolejo made his way into the final heat with a time of 2:07.52.

Adam Pendry and Joe Houchin edged into the finals with times of 2:08.06 and 2:08.16, respectively.

**The championship heats of the 800 and 1500 will be contested tomorrow as a timed finals event.**

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