KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, October 20. The No. 14 Tennessee men's swimming and diving team opened its season Friday with a 130-98 win over Louisville at the UT Student Aquatic Center.
"Louisville is a very fine team and very well-coached," UT head men's coach John Trembley said. "They're on the rise and they have a new facility. It's nice to have quality opponents such as Louisville."
To kick off the men's swimming events, the Volunteers placed first and third in the 400 medley relay. In the 1000 Free, Louisville's Charlton Lawson won the race in 9:50.71 followed by Tennessee's Greg Houchin who finished with a time of 9:51.18.
The Vols then pulled away from Cardinals in the next three events. In the 200 free, Scott Wherry and Brad Boswell placed first (1:43.43) and second (1:44.03).
"Scott Wherry stepped up and raced very hard," Trembley said. "He's been training very hard, and it's good to see that pay off."
A strong 50 free saw Alesi Octavio, Andrew Engle, Chris Wary and Travis Wright finished first (20.39), second (21.13), third (21.93) and fourth (22.01). The 200 I.M. the proceeded as Michael Wolfe, Nolan Morrell and Andrew Thirlwell placed first (1:52.61), second (1:54.37) and third (1:55.78).
After the diving break, Houchin won the 200 fly with a time of 1:54.02, and Alesi followed with a victory in the 100 free, finishing in 45.74. Wolfe and Morrell ended the 200 back in first (1:49.61) and second (1:53.62) place.
Impressive Freshman performance by Michael Muscari gave him a victory in 3 meter diving with 315.08 points.
"I pulled Michael Muscari over after the 1-meter diving break and said a few things to him," UT diving coach Dave Parrington said. "He really took it to heart and got up there although he's had a painful wrist and really surprised some people."
Junior Ryan Rincon also scored 288.07 points in the 1-meter to contribute to the diving effort.
On the women's side of the meet, No. 15 Tennessee came out strong in its first regular-season meet, downing Louisville, 185-111, to bring their all-time record against the Cardinals to 5-0.
"We had some really good performances," Lady Vol Head Coach Matt Kredich said. "There were some things that I really liked about the races. We finished, for the most part, very aggressively. Louisville was tough and gave us some great races. They showed us some places where we need work."
Highlighting the evening was the performance of sophomore diver Lauren LeRoy, who won both diving events and scored a personal-best and zone qualifying score of 313.58 from the three-meter boards. Senior Megan Tomes won the 100y freestyle in an NCAA qualifying time of 50.94 and recorded wins in the 100y backstroke and as part of the 200y freestyle relay team.
"I stayed calm today," LeRoy said. "I tend to rush things, but I think I was very relaxed and things all fell together today. It's a good feeling to be able to put that together in the meet and not just in practice. There is still room to do better, though."
LeRoy and Junior Vicky Linnell put UT on top early in the meet by placing first and fourth in the one-meter diving. LeRoy, from Oshkosh, Wis., blew away the competition with a scathing 263.25, 25 points ahead of the second-place Sarah Sandroni from Louisville (238.25). Linnell scored a 235.50 to put the Orange ahead 11-8 after the first event.
The foursome of Danyelle Vincent, Michele King, Betsy Lange and Elizabeth Christy furthered the lead to 24-12 when Christy touched the wall first in 1:47.17 as the anchor of the first-place team. The Cardinals' B team placed second with 1:47.53, while Tennessee's B squad of Brittany Nauta, Sarah McCall, Carly Mathes and Laura Fehrman rounded out the top-three (1:48.74). UT's squad of Maria Jugan, Ashley Quinn, Ashley Yeager and Karla Neal came in fifth in 1:55.86.
In the fifth event of the night, the women's 1000y freestyle, Misty Cain, Bryttany Curran and Laura Tomes all scored for the Big Orange. Cain placed second behind Louisville's Amanda Henlenben with a time of 10:20.74. Freshman Curran touched the wall in 10:25.72, .04 seconds ahead of classmate Tomes.
The 200y freestyle was a tight race, in that a mere .79 seconds separated first and third place. Freshman standout King was once again victorious in her signature stroke as she defeated Louisville's Leslie VanWinkle by .18 seconds to claim top-honors with a time of 1:50.42. The time was King's personal best. Returning All-American Christine Magnuson scored for the Lady Vols by placing third in 1:51.21 and All-American Sam Maccherola came in fifth at 1:53.33.
Tennessee placed three in the top-five in the 100y backstroke as Megan Tomes took first in 56.22, over three seconds ahead of Louisville's Karen Criss. Christy was third in 1:00.24 and Danyelle Vincent (1:00.67) rounded out the scoring for the Lady Vols.
Tiffany Clay and Sarah McCall increased UT's lead to 70-42 after placing first and fourth in the 100y breaststroke, respectively. Clay, who owns the Lady Vol record in the 200y breaststroke, swam the event in 1:05.43 to claim first. McCall touched the wall just in 1:06.87, just .05 seconds behind third-place Johanna Nyysti of Louisville.
The women's 200y butterfly was next on the schedule for the Lady Vols as freshman Jamie Saffer and sophomore Mathes both produced points for Rocky Top by placing second and third, respectively. Saffer was less than a second behind Abby Miller of Louisville with a time of 2:05.47. Mathes rounded out the top-three in 2:07.08.
In the last swimming event before the women's three-meter diving break, Magnuson earned nine points for the Orange and White by taking top honors in the 50y freestyle (23.88). She was followed closely by teammate Katie Gehring who posted a career-best 24.36 in the event. Junior swimmer, Fehrman, took fourth in 24.66, just .05 seconds behind third-place Anna Dishuck of Louisville.
With her one-meter win fresh on her mind, LeRoy was in spectacular form from three meters later in the evening. The sophomore earned a score of 313.58, crushing the NCAA Zone Qualifying score, as well as her previous personal-best of 279.22 The total goes down in Lady Vol history as the 12th-best score from the three-meter board. Linnell and Senior Brittany Fulmer also scored for Rocky Top recording totals of 242.40 and 228.13, respectively.
"Overall I think we did very well for the day," Parrington said. "We showed some first meet jitters, but I'm happy in general with what we did. This is a good meet to build on."
Following LeRoy's performance, Senior Tomes achieved her NCAA "B" qualifying time in the 100y free with a time of 50.94. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native's first-place time was followed by Nauta who finished in 53.13. Gehring earned points for the team by placing fourth in 53.49.
"Megan [Tomes] has some really high goals," Kredich said. "Because of the way she has always raced, every time she gets up we expect her to do something impressive. She did that in every event she swam today."
In the 200y backstroke, UT placed three swimmers in the top-five once again. Vincent came out on top with a 2:08.70, followed by teammates Christy (2:10.97) and Yeager (2:12.31) in third and fourth, respectively.
It was the freshmen who shined in the 21st event; the 200y breaststroke. King, who will be represent the U.S. at the Pan-American games in July next year as a freestyler, took first with a time of 2:20.79. Curran was not far behind in second-place (2:21.88) and Saffer made her second top-five appearance of the evening coming in a 2:25.52 to claim fourth.
It was Louisville who took over the 500y freestyle race, placing themselves in the first, second and fifth spots. Sophomores Maccherola and Mathes were the point-scorers in the event coming in third and fourth with tims of 5:01.28 and 5:03.63, respectively.
Magnuson recorded her second win of the night when she touched the wall at 55.55 in the 100y butterfly. Three other Lady Vols placed in the top-5, with Betsy Lange and Saffer each coming in at 58.35 to tie for second.
McCall was the high point-scorer for the Big Orange in the second the last individual event of the evening, the 400y IM. The Knoxville native swam to third-place in 4:33.49, while fellow Lady Vol Mathes finished fifth in 4:37.09. Louisville's Abby Miller took top-honors in 4:29.34, while Leslie VanWinkle was second with a time of 4:32.92.
Tennessee topped off the night with a victory in the 200y freestyle relay. King, Magnuson, Gehring and Meghan Tomes made up the UT "A" squad which swam past the competition easily to claim first in 1:33.97, just .23 seconds from a NCAA "B" qualifying time. UT's Fehrman, Maccherola, Lange and Saffer were on the third-place team (1:39.35), while the squad of Nauta, Christy, Ashley Quinn and Karla Neal took fourth in 1:39.84.
"It's a good start for us," Kredich said. "it gives us a lot of things we can work on in training from now on. We have to get sharper and a lot smarter in our races before we head to South Carolina."