FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 28. THE second day of action at the NCAA Division I Men's Championships usually sees one team start to separate from the pack. With three teams in the 100s and two in the 90s, action in the King County Aquatic Center should be strong during day two prelims.
Overall for the day, Arizona made a big move to give Frank Busch his second career NCAA title in just more than a week when the Wildcats went 10 up and four down in individual events.
200 medley relay
Auburn put itself in a strong position to claim its sixth victory in the 200 medley relay, and second in a row after winning in 2007 with a 1:23.37. Auburn's foursome of Scott Goodrich, David Maras, Alexei Puninski and Cesar Cielo topped qualifying with a time of 1:24.27 to earn lane four this evening. Cielo posted a swift anchor leg of 18.61 to easily anchor the relay home.
Meanwhile, in the first heat, Arizona's foursome of Albert Subirats, Ivan Barnes, Darian Townsend and Ryan Richardson set the second-place time with a 1:25.10. The Wildcats will be looking to reclaim the title the school won in 2006. A victory for Arizona would be its third ever after also winning in 1993.
California's quartet of David Russell, Damir Dugonjic, Jernej Godec and William Copeland placed third in 1:25.23 out of the second heat. Michigan (1:25.65), Stanford (1:25.69), Indiana (1:26.13), SMU (1:26.16) and Texas A&M (1:26.20) will also vie for the championship title.
Subirats clocked the fastest backstroke leg with a 20.81, while Alex Hetland of SMU paced the breaststrokers with a 23.57. Puninski led the fliers with a 19.95 split, while Cielo's anchor leg of 18.61 easily paced the freestylers.
Florida's Clark Burckle put together a stellar swim to lead prelims with a time of 3:42.82. That performance moved him into 15th all time in the event, just ahead of Kevin Clements (3:42.90) and behind Markus Rogan (3:42.76).
Arizona's Jack Brown qualified second with a quick time of 3:43.69, while Michigan's Alex Vanderkaay, already the ninth-fastest all time in the even and defending champ with a 3:40.89, qualified third with a time of 3:44.35. Vanderkaay will look to be the first back-to-back winner since fellow Wolverine Tim Siciliano went three-in-a-row from 1999-2001.
Other top eight finishers included Arizona State's CJ Nuess (3:44.69), Michigan's Andre Schultz (3:45.18), Georgia's Sebastien Rouault (3:45.34), Arizona's Cory Chitwood (3:45.46) and Florida's Bradley Ally (3:46.34).
In the team battle, Michigan made up some ground with two up and two down (Tyler Clary and Dane Grenda). Meanwhile, Florida and Arizona both went two up.
Auburn's Alexei Puninski earned the top seed in finals with a time of 45.78, just off his personal-best time of 45.60. That 45.60 puts Puninski ninth all time in the event. He will attempt to be the first Auburn Tiger to ever win the 100 fly at NCAAs.
Stanford's Austin Staab vaulted into the top 10 all time with an amazing preliminary swim of 45.79. He moved ahead of Matt Grevers for 10th, as Grevers previously held the spot with a 45.80. That qualified Staab second in the championship heat.
Arizona's Albert Subirats, who is the defending champ with an NCAA and U.S. Open record of 44.57 last year, cruised into third with a 45.93.
Stanford's Jason Dunford (46.07), Northwestern's Kyle Bubolz (46.10), Texas' Ricky Berens (46.14), Auburn's Tyler McGill (46.17) and Texas' Hill Taylor (46.34) claimed the final championship heat berths.
Auburn came out on top of the event in the team race with two up and one down (Cesar Cielo), while Texas and Stanford both went two up.
Last year's winning time of 1:33.29 set by Darian Townsend of Arizona will probably seem slow once the 200 freestylers take to the water tonight. A pair of swimmers qualified from prelims under that time as Florida's Shaune Fraser tied Doug Gjertsen as the seventh-fastest ever in the event with a time of 1:33.15.
Fraser was joined in heat four of six by Stanford's Danny Beal as the senior became the 12th-fastest ever in the event with a second-seeded 1:33.26. He moved ahead of Troy Dalbey (1:33.28) and behind Adam Ritter (1:33.23).
Should Fraser hold his seed this evening, he would be the first Gator to win the title since Adam Sioui touched first in 2002 with a time of 1:34.67.
Arizona's Jean Basson qualified third in 1:33.50, while Townsend (1:33.51), Texas' Dave Walters (1:33.52), Texas' Michael Klueh (1:33.62), Texas' Matt McGinnis (1:33.64) and Arizona's Nicolas Nilo (1:33.69) all made the top eight. Incredibly, California's Dominik Meichtry posted a 1:33.78 and fell back to the consolation heat.
Arizona should make up some ground in the team battle as the squad qualified three up and one down (Joel Greenshields). Meanwhile, Texas went three up.
Stanford's Paul Kornfeld, already the fifth-fastest swimmer in the event with a 52.19 at last year's NCAAs, posted the 14th-fastest swim of all time in the event to lead qualifying with a 52.40.
He will look to add to Stanford's NCAA-record tally of 12 100 breast crowns. He will also try to return the title back to Stanford for the first time since Gary Marshall won with a 52.68 in 2005.
California's Damir Dugonic moved into eighth all time in the event with a swift time of 52.50. He moved in front of former Golden Bear Henrique Barbosa, who won the 2006 title with a 52.52, but stands behind Steve Lundquist's 52.48.
Michigan's Scott Spann (52.68), Arizona's Marcus Titus (52.98), West Virginia's Kevin Donohue (53.10), California's Martti Aljand (53.18), SMU's Alex Hetland (53.20) and Arizona's Bart Steninger (53.25) grabbed the rest of the top eight spots.
In the team race, Arizona and California both went two up and one down.
Indiana's Ben Hesen, who took second in the event last year to Arizona's Albert Subirats, and really broke out internationally this past summer when he pushed Michael Phelps at the USA Swimming National Championships to a near world-record in the 100-meter back, qualified first. Hesen notched a time of 46.20 to lead qualifying and should have more left in the tank as he sports a 45.45 lifetime-best effort.
Hesen will be looking to bring the 100 back title back to the Hoosiers for the first time since Michael Stamm won the event with a 50.91 in 1973.
California's David Russell qualified second with a time of 46.37, while Texas' Dan Rohleder earned the third seed with a time of 46.66.
Defending champion Albert Subirats of Arizona, who is the second-fastest swimmer ever in the event with a 44.83 from last year, qualified fourth in 46.78.
Stanford's Eugene Godsoe (46.80), Penn State's Pat Schirk (46.84), Arizona's Jake Tapp (46.84) and Texas' Hill Taylor (46.98) rounded out the top eight.
In the team race, Arizona went two up and one down (Cory Chitwood), while Texas went two up.
Arizona will lose a bit of ground in diving as Auburn has two up and Texas qualified one up during prelims. However, it probably won't be enough to drastically impact a potential three-digit lead for the Wildcats heading into the third day once tonight is over.