NASHVILLE, Tennessee, October 16. SOUTH Carolina got great performances across the board – from rookies and upperclassmen alike – as they sprinted past Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky on Saturday.
The Carolina women downed Vanderbilt 252-43 and took care of WKU 195-104 while the Gamecock men were quite impressive in a 203-97 victory over the Hilltoppers. South Carolina's women improved to 2-0 overall (1-0 SEC) while the Carolina men start the season 1-0 for the second straight year.
Between the two teams, the Gamecocks won 24 of 32 events on the day and were never seriously threatened after the opening relay. The distance corps on both the men's and women's teams – as well as the diving squads – were the catalysts as both teams earned big points in those events.
Sophomore Lindsey Olson, who sat out the 2009-10 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, made the most of her return to competition with wins in both the 500- and 1000-yard freestyle events. She clocked a 10:19.12 in her first career attempt at the 1000, then outpaced freshman teammate Abby Galbreath by two seconds with a 5:04.35 in the 500 free, leading a sweep of the top four spots in the race.
Freshmen Rachael Schaffer and Amanda Rutqvist were as advertised, with Schaffer winning the 200 breaststroke and the 200 individual medley with Rutqvist taking top honors in the 100 breast. Schaffer clocked a 2:16.16 in the 200 breast, edging out Rutqvist by .6 seconds, while Rutqvist outpaced Schaffer in the 100 breast with a 1:03.47 to Schaffer's 1:04.14. In the 200 IM, it was all Schaffer as she clocked a 2:03.17, winning by more than five seconds over Rutqvist. The times by both Gamecocks in the breaststroke events easily surpassed the season bests by Carolina swimmers last season.
Senior Bridget Halligan opened the season in a strong fashion, winning both sprints and helping the 400 free relay team to victory in the day's final event. Halligan posted a 23.70 in the 50 free to win going away, and came back with a 52.61 in the 100 free to lead a Carolina sweep. Freshman Kelly Tannhauser won her first collegiate race with a 1:53.45 in the 200 free, then took second in the 100 free and third in the 500 free while helping the 400 FR team to victory. And senior Megan Sparks picked up the other swimming win for the Gamecocks, touching first in the 100 backstroke in 57.91 seconds. The 400 freestyle relay team of Tannhauser, Lauren Raczkowski, Shaylyn Blake and Halligan closed out the meet with a win, posting a time of 3:32.43.
On the men's side, it was sophomore Bobby Cave earning a pair of wins in the breaststroke events and junior Chris Kelly sweeping the backstroke swims to lead Carolina on this day. Cave posted a 56.83 in the 100 breast then came back with a 2:04.92 in the 200 breast, continuing his dominance in those events. Kelly, meanwhile, posted a 51.45 in the 100 back and a 1:50.77 in the 200 back to lead strong performances across the board by the Gamecock backstrokers.
Sophomore Michael Flach took top honors in the 200 butterfly, winning by nearly three full seconds with a 1:50.61 in his first swim of the year. Flach also teamed with James Crawford, Andrew Seiler and Gerard Rodriguez to win the closing event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, in 3:05.21. Fellow sophomore Brooks Ross led a Gamecock sweep in the 1000 free, posting a career-best time of 9:23.67 to earn big points for Carolina along with Matt Columbus and Dan Jackson. Columbus touched first in the 500 free (4:36.63), followed by Ross and Jackson.
Another sophomore, Collin Kaden, posted a victory in the 200 IM with a 1:52.72, and freshman Gerard Rodriguez made the most of his first meet with a victory in the 200 freestyle (1:39.51).
In the diving well, it was all South Carolina as junior Courtney Forcucci made a successful return with wins on both the 1- and 3- meter boards. Forcucci scored a 297.90 to lead a Carolina sweep on the 1-meter board, then posted a 329.85 on the 3-meter to once again pace a Gamecock 1-2-3 finish. Both scores were NCAA Zone qualifying marks, as were Taryn Zack's 277.14 on the 1-meter board and Allison Barr's 284.17 (1M) and 295.27 (3M).
Sophomore Rylan Ridenour led the Gamecock men's divers with wins on both boards, scoring a 366.90 on the 3-meter board to easily eclipse the NCAA Zone qualifying mark, followed by another qualifying score of 345.97 on the 1-meter board. Freshman Andrew Helmich took second on the 3-meter board with a 299.25, while sophomore Nikolas Sachs was second on the 1-meter board with a 298.20.
South Carolina will open the home portion of the 2010-11 season on Friday, Oct. 29, with a 5 p.m. dual meet against archrival Clemson at the Blatt P.E. Center.
The Western Kentucky University swimming and diving teams had mixed results in their opening meet of the 2010-11 season, facing off against Vanderbilt and South Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Centennial Sportsplex. The Lady Toppers split, defeating the Commodores 235-58 and falling 194-105 to South Carolina. The Gamecocks were strong on the men's side as well, handing the Hilltoppers a 203-97 loss.
"I was very pleased with a number of individual swims and thought that for this early in the season they were extremely good and were right where we wanted to be," WKU coach Bruce Marchionda said. "It was nice to pick up the win over Vanderbilt but obviously we weren't able to win either of the meets against South Carolina. We knew they were very, very strong SEC team and I don't think the score reflects how close the meet actually was. The disappointing thing was that we lost a lot of close races, which if a few of those go our way, it is a much closer meet."
WKU senior Claire Donahue led the way on the women's side, sweeping the butterfly events, touching in at 2 minutes, 2.77 second s in the 200 fly and at 54.97 in the 100 fly. Freshman Courtney Marx also had a strong day, finishing runner-up to Donahue in the 100 fly (58.28) and third in the 200 fly (2:07.81). Classmate Chelsea Brozino posted a fourth-place finish in the 200 fly (2:10.20) and senior Chelsea Stephens placed fourth in the 100 fly (58.98).
"It was nice to see us go 1-2 in the 100 fly," Marchionda said "Obviously, we expected Claire to go out and win both of those fly events for us but as a freshman Courtney had a pretty good day. Second to Claire in the 100, that is always nice to see."
Hilltopper sophomore Bill Kunkel was the highlight of the meet for the men. Kunkel captured victories in the 50 free (21.10) and 100 free (45.87) along with a second-place finish in the 200 free (1:39.73) just behind South Carolina's Gerard Rodriguez. WKU senior Nick Slattery also picked up an event win with a time of 50.51 in the 100 fly. Slattery, who is the school-record holder in the 100 fly, placed third in the 200 fly (1:53.43).
"Billy just continues to get better every meet, every year and for him to start with two victories, 50 free, 100 free and a second-place finish in the 200 free; it is a good way for him to start the season," Marchionda said.
Lady Topper Claire Alexandre also had a strong meet for WKU. Alexandre placed second in the 200 free (1:55.55) and in the 50 free (24.48). Juniors Casey DeRidder (1:57.02) and Georgia Smith (1:57.03) finished fourth and fifth behind Alexandre in the 200 free, giving WKU three of the top five spots. Senior Meredith Dement placed third in the 50 free, stopping the clock at 24.69.
WKU sophomore Alex Van Oost was the only other Lady Topper to pick up an event win, touching in at 2:03.52 to claim first in the 200 back. Sophomore Laurel Chaney was the next highest finisher, placing fifth with a time of 2:10.24.
In the 100 back, sophomore Hilary Mishler earned a runner-up finish with a time of 58.32. Chaney and junior Kristiana Feeser placed fifth and sixth, respectively with times of 59.25 and 1:00.15.
Lady Topper junior Stephanie Martin posted a strong time of 2:22.28 in the 200 breaststroke event, placing third being a strong pair of swimmers from South Carolina.
Hilltopper Luke Musser recorded a runner-up finish in the 100 breast (57.70) while placing third in the 200 breast (2:08.22). Junior Chris Donahue and freshman Sam Dalton also showed strong in the breaststroke events, both placing in the top six in each swim.
WKU junior Chris Housden placed third in the 100 back with a time of 51.74 while freshman Adam Dajka matched Housden with a third-place finish in the 200 back, clocking in at 1:53.25.
In the 500 freestyle, the Hilltoppers placed four in the top seven, with sophomore David Rayner pacing the group in fourth with a time of 4:52.69. Junior Adam Pendry (4:56.43) placed fifth with freshmen Neil Rushing (4:59.10) and Elliott Lorson (5:04.94) rounding out the event.
In diving, sophomore Caitlin Dean paced the Lady Toppers with a fourth-place finish on the one-meter (266.10) and three-meter (253.65). Sophomore Jonathan Field placed in the top three in each event, scoring 266.10 on the one-meter and 291.00 on the three-meter.
Both teams started off the meet with strong swims in the 200 medley relay. The women's quartet of Mishler, Brittany Doss, Donahue and Feeser won with a time of 1:45.43. Housden, Musser, Slattery and William Varley posted a time of 1:33.25 to claim victory on the men's side. The Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers each finished second in the 400 freestyle relay.
"We often win a lot of our meets because of our depth and I think relays illustrate that," Marchionda said. "We started off this morning with awesome 200 medley relays, victories in both of them, and I am very pleased with that kind of team work that we can put together those relays, which is going to become extremely important come conference time."
WKU returns to the pool on Saturday, Oct. 23 in a tri-meet with Georgia Tech and Florida Atlantic in Atlanta, Ga. The meet is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. For complete results and a recap of the event, please visit WKUSports.com.
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