SEC Women’s Championships: Alabama, Kentucky Nab Relay Wins on Opening Night

sec-kentucky-800M Free Relay (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Kentucky 800 free relay; Photo Courtesy: Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics

Alabama and Kentucky scored wins in the 200 medley relay and 800 freestyle relay, respectively, on the opening night of the 2021 SEC Women’s Championships Wednesday.

Alabama was left standing for its first 200 medley relay triumph since 1985 after two of the top five seeds were DQed, helping Alabama rise from the eighth seed to the win. The foursome of Rhyan White, Kalia Wong, Morgan Scott and Cora Dupre clocked in at 1:34.68 to take the win. They had been seeded with a time of 1:38.16. White split 23.35 off the front of the relay and put the Tide in front for good.

“What a great start to the week,” Alabama interim coach Ozzie Quevedo said. “To get things going with a championship, winning our first relay title since the mid-80s … it’s hard to beat that, but then we smashed three school records along the way and that makes it better. We are so proud of our ladies and the work and dedication that they’ve put into preparing for these championships. I think it’s extra special that our first win of the week was a relay, because it speaks to the team aspect of swimming and diving that is so important to this group. We’re also so excited for Rhyan … to put up one of the two fastest in the history of our sport is simply amazing. Now, we have to keep our focus and build on today as we go through the week.”

Missouri, which entered as the top seed, finished second with a time of 1:35.61 with Meredith Reese, Molly Winter, Sarah Thompson and Megan Keil. Kentucky, the big winner on the night points wise, was third, with a time of 1:35.87 (Caitlin Brooks, Bailey Bonnett, Izzy Gati, Riley Gaines).

Georgia, which entered as the third seed, and fifth-seeded Auburn was each disqualified for early take-offs. The top three teams scored NCAA auto cuts. Fourth-place Tennessee added a consideration cut.

Kentucky is also bound for the NCAAs in the 800 free relay, capturing its first ever title in the event and its first relay win of any kind since 2007. The foursome of Gati, Gaines, Kaitlynn Wheeler and Sophie Sorensen clocked in at 6:58.58, edging Florida by .33 seconds. Gaines did most of the heavy lifting by splitting 1:42.44, the fastest in the race. Kentucky had been the fourth seed entering the race.

Florida (Talia Bates, Katelyn Mack, Nikki Miller, Kathleen Golding) was second in the race and Gators program history, with top-seeded Georgia (Courtney Harnish, Callie Dickinson, Jillian Barczyk, Zoie Hartman) finishing third to salvage points and break seven minutes with an NCAA auto time of 6:59.42.

Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M (the latter with Chloe Stepanek leading off in a top-five national time of 1:43.36) rounded out the top six with consideration cuts.

1-meter diving

Florida got a big boost with Ashley McCool winning the event, held separately at the Mizzou Aquatic Center. McCool scored 334.35 to win the event, outdistancing herself from the back. Aimee Wilson of Texas A&M was second; it’s her third career one-meter medal after winning bronze as a freshman and silver as a sophomore, both with LSU. Arkansas’s Brooke Schultz was third.

SEC Women’s Championships Team Scores

1. Texas A&M – 185
2. Florida – 151
3. Kentucky – 145
4. Arkansas – 137
5.Alabama – 132
6. LSU – 121
7. Tennessee – 119
8. Missouri – 118
9. South Carolina – 83
10. Auburn – 74
11. Georgia – 71
12. Vanderbilt – 64