COLUMBIA, South Carolina, January 25. SOUTH Carolina senior diver Rylan Ridenour broke his own school record on the men's three-meter springboard with a score of 446.95 on Friday to help the Gamecock swimming and diving teams build sizable leads over College of Charleston, Queens and Wingate in the first session of a two-day meet at the Carolina Natatorium.
Fittingly enough, Ridenour accomplished the feat on Senior Day and did so almost a year to the day that he set the old mark of 427.43 (Jan. 27, 2012). In the pool, the Gamecocks were just as strong as they put forth one of their best efforts of the season, winning eight events. Overall, South Carolina placed first in 12 of the 20 events contested on Friday and swept the top three spots in six events.
Heading into Saturday's session, the Gamecock men hold leads over Wingate (156-24), Queens (126-54) and College of Charleston (163-17). On the women's side, South Carolina has a 156-28 advantage over the Bulldogs, a 153-27 lead on the Royals and a 161-19 cushion against College of Charleston.
South Carolina head coach McGee Moody couldn't have been more proud of his team's effort on a day that 13 seniors were honored prior to the meet.
“I am pretty happy with where we are,” Moody said. “We needed to be sharp. We were not as sharp as we could be last week but we were much, much better tonight. We are starting to see people have a little pop at the end of our races, which is good. We had some people that did swim really well tonight. Ellen Johnson, one of our freshmen, is going to be something to watch over the next couple of years. She's got a lot of talent and had a really good night tonight. I am proud of where we are.”
With Ridenour leading the way, the Gamecock diving corps swept the top three spots on every board. Ridenour's record-setting performance topped the men's three-meter competition, while sophomore Cole Miller (399.65) and junior Andrew Helmich (345.80) both set career bests to finish second and third, respectively. Ridenour also won the one-meter board with a PR of 395.90, followed by Miller with a PR of 370.65 and Helmich with a PR of 308.45. On the women's boards, sophomore Patricia Kranz won both the one-meter (340.50) and three-meter (365.15). Senior Chay Malvasio placed second on the one-meter (302.10) and third on the three-meter (323.55), while freshman Lauren Lamendola took second on the three-meter (337.25 PR) and third on the one-meter (281.50).
“I think the team did really well and made a lot of adjustments from last week,” South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “The errors that were made last week were the areas they were weak in. Everybody this entire week made changes, and it showed up today. Rylan breaking the record, what can you say? The record wasn't easy to break, but he pulled that gainer 3 ? tuck, which is what he's been working on for a while. When he hit that, it shot his score way up. Everybody had a really good day today, and I'm very happy with that.”
The Gamecocks made a statement early in the pool by sweeping the 200 freestyle relay. The Carolina women's team of Taylor Josserand, Rachel Elliott, Lauren Raczkowski and Casey Papp turned in the second fastest time of the season (1:35.99) to win the event, while the men's team of Michael Flach, Michael Covert, Jay Warner and Alex Fitton also posted the second fastest time of the season (1:22.93) to claim first.
Junior Gerard Rodriguez added to South Carolina's early success as he swam to a first-place finish in the men's 200 IM with a time of 1:53.42. Senior Whitney Avers followed Rodriguez's performance with a strong effort of her own in the 500 freestyle, claiming first with a season best time of 5:01.59.
Freshman Ellen Johnson then earned the first win of her career with a first-place showing in the 100 breaststroke with a PR of 1:02.75.
Fitton swam a 45.95 in the men's 100 freestyle to earn his fourth win of the season. South Carolina's final individual win came in the women's 200 butterfly, as senior Meghan Brockington touched the wall first in 2:05.69.
The Gamecock women's 400 medley relay team of Matea Peteh, Amanda Rutqvist, Papp and Rachael Schaffer recorded the final win of the night for Carolina as it won by nearly four seconds with a time of 3:49.79.
The teams will return to Carolina Natatorium on Saturday to wrap up the meet. The first event is set to begin at 10 a.m., and live results will be available at sportstiming.com.
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