Southeastern Conference Championships: Day Two

AUBURN, Alabama, February 19. AUBURN sprinters blew away the crowd and the competition on the second day of SECs as 2008 Olympian Matt Targett led the way, posting the second fastest time ever recorded in the 50-yard freestyle – an 18.52. Auburn junior Dan Mazzaferro earned his second SEC diving title as Ava Ohlgren won her third consecutive SEC victory in the 200 IM.

The Auburn men have accumulated 329.5 points while trailed by Tennessee with 260. The Auburn women are in third with 254 behind Georgia (260.5) and Florida (312).

Tiger sprinters again proved their dominance in the short distance freestyle, finishing one through four in the 50 free. Behind Targett were Auburn senior Jakob Andkajaer (19.05) and junior Gideon Louw (19.28), placing second and third and hitting NCAA automatic qualifying times in the process. Sophomore Kohlton Norys placed fourth with a new top-time of 19.51.

“Matt’s definitely going fast,” said Auburn co-head men’s coach Brett Hawke. “He can go faster. We shaved him down for this meet but we didn’t rest him. He’s definitely got more in him. He’s been working hard all year. I’m certain he’s going to go under that record.”

The win marked the 18th Auburn title in the 50 free and seventh in a row.

A stunning prelim saw Targett and Andkjaer swim the first and third fastest swims in the nation this year, both under 19 seconds. Their times were only the second and third swims under 19 seconds at the SEC Championships and the first in prelims.

The first sub-19 second time recorded in SEC Championships history came in the Cesar Cielo 18.91 at the 2008 Championships. Of the seven men to ever swim under 19, four were Auburn Tigers.

Andkjaer got the fans’ blood pumping at prelims, winning his heat with an impressive 18.97. Two heats later, Targett slashed his way to an 18.89, a new NCAA top-time and an SEC Championship Record. It was a record that was meant to be broken – and soon.

Auburn junior Ava Ohlgren earned her third consecutive SEC 200 IM title swimming a pool record 1:55.18. The Northville, Mich., native made up over a full second in the final 75 yards on Georgia’s Gemma Spofforth to take the win.

Earlier, Ohlgren hit a 2008-09 200 IM “A” cut with her 1:56.52 preliminary time, giving her NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 200 and 400 IMs.

The Tigers have dominated the 200 IM in recent years, winning eight of the last nine championships.

After winning her prelim heat, sophomore Caitlin Geary placed fourth in the 200 IM finals with a new top-time of 1:56.52. Sophomore Melanie Robert finished seventh touching in at 1:58.39.

The Auburn women’s sprinters showed up in force, claiming five of the 18 spots in the 50 free finals. Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace led the way for the Tigers, touching in at 22.33. Melissa Marik (22.66) and Alana Dillette (22.70) also made the A final. Emile Ewing (22.77) and Rachel Goh rounded out the B final.

Auburn junior and 2008 SEC platform champion Dan Mazzaferro earned his second SEC title Thursday, this time in the 3-meter platform, scoring 420.90 points. Fellow Tiger and 2008 SEC 1-meter champion Kelly Marx was right behind in second with 418.05, a new career best.

“Awesome,” said Auburn head diving coach Jeff Shaffer. “Just awesome. What a great contest that was. You had to fight and claw for every point. Nobody had it won until the very last dive was done.”

Mazzaferro led the Tigers in preliminaries, placing third with a 388.50. Marx finished fourth with a 385.80.

“I went 421 earlier this season,” said Mazzaferro. “I was shooting for the SEC record of 427. I just missed it. I’ve already got the Auburn record on the platform. Again I’m going to shoot for the SEC record.”

The same four Tigers who placed one through four in the 50 free reunited for a route in the 200 FR. The squad of Andkjaer, Targett, Norys and Louw posted a new SEC Championship record time of 1:15.47, roughly two seconds ahead of No. 2 Tennessee and the NCAA “A” cutline.

“Actually, what was going through my head was, ‘Try to be safe’,” said Targett. “The coaches told us we pretty much had it secure with the way we swam in the 50 free and just to be safe and get the points.”

Auburn has now won 10 of the last 12 SEC Championship freestyle relays.

The Auburn women’s 200 free relay team of Ohlgren, Emile Ewing, Melissa Marik and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace timed in under the previous SEC record but placed second with a 1:28.50. Ohlgren earned a “B” cut for her opening leg.

Auburn junior Tyler McGill placed second in the men’s 200 IM finals with an “A” cut time of 1:43.39, the second fastest time in school history. The Champaign, Ill., native hit the wall behind Florida’s Bradley Ally and his new NCAA top-time of 1:41.96.

Senior Logan Madson placed sixth with a 1:46.48.

McGill won the prelims with a time of 1:43.92, giving Auburn its first 2008-09 NCAA automatic qualifying time in the event. Madson also advanced to the A final recording a new top-time 1:46.17. Prior to prelims, the Tigers had no NCAA cuts in the 200 IM.

The Auburn women’s sprinters showed up in force for the 50 free finals, advancing five from prelims. Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace led the way for the Tigers, placing fourth with a time of 22.23. Junior Melissa Marik placed seventh, touching in at 22.59. Senior Emile Ewing (22.45) won the B final followed by senior Rachel Goh (22.63) and junior Alana Dillette (22.65).

Junior Will Dove set a new school record while placing sixth in the men’s 500 free finals with a time of 4:16.94. Dove won his prelim heat, recording a top time of 4:18.80. Georgia’s Troyden Prinsloo claimed the title after a four-year winning streak by fellow Bulldog Sebastian Rouault. Previous record holder Kevin Clements swam a 4:17.20 at the 2002 SEC Championships.

Sophomore Robert Looney placed 3rd in the 500 free B final, touching in at 4:20.96.
Women’s 500 free

The women advanced three to the 500 free – junior Maggie Bird, senior Chelsea Haser and sophomore Micah Martindale. Bird won her prelim heat with a new top-time of 4:39.15. The Muncie, Ind., native rode the heels of Georgia’s Chelsea Nauta for the majority of the race but was overcome in the last 200 yards, falling to fifth with a time of 4:39.24.

Haser placed seventh in the A final, touching in at 4:42.92 while Martindale placed seventh in the consolation final with a 4:49.75.

The Tigers continue to look for their first ever title in the event.

Freshman Anna Aquero and Vanessa Dantin missed out on the finals for the women’s 1 meter springboard. Aguero just missed the eight-participant cutline, placing tenth with a score of 276.55. Dantin placed 15th with 260.45.

Auburn swimming and diving returns to action 10:00 a.m. Friday morning with the 400 IM prelims.

Special thanks to Auburn for contributing this report.