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Friday February 9, 2007Florida Men Maintain Steady Hold on Second Place in SEC Championships

Lexington, Ky.

Three Southeastern Conference Championships event titles headlined the third day of the SEC Swimming Championships for the Florida men and women Friday evening in Lexington, Ky. The eighth-ranked men maintained a steady hold on their second-place standing by claiming league crowns in the 400 IM and 200 free, and a title in the 100 breast propelled the No. 6 Florida women to third place as conference action continued at the Lancaster Aquatic Center on the campus of the University of Kentucky.

 

 “Today was another good day in the conference meet for Florida. We swam a lot of younger team members, and had several good performances in both the preliminaries and the finals,” Florida head coach Gregg Troy said.

 

The Florida squads got right down to business in the opening events by sending three swimmers to the medal stand in the 400 individual medley. Sophomore Bradley Ally (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was the first Gator to climb to the top tier of the medal stand, claiming his first-ever individual SEC title in a time of 3:45.82 in the A-Final. Ally’s career-best time was more than one second ahead of the NCAA automatic-qualifying cut, and it also marked the fastest time this season by a collegiate swimmer in the event (according to CollegeSwimming.com). Junior Kevin Nead (Ithaca, N.Y.), freshman Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) and junior Dustin McLarty (DeLand, Fla.) also made appearances in the championships final, and the trio finished 4-5-6, respectively, each with provisional-qualifying cuts. Freshman Omar Pinzon (Bogota, Colombia) and junior Tobias Work (Falmouth, Mass.) added first and third-place performances in the consolation final, as Pinzon touched the wall in 3:52.71 and Work recorded a time of 3:55.50.

 

“Bradley Ally has had a great season. He’s on top of his game and racing really well. He’s been solid, to say the least. He was a little disappointed that he didn’t win the 200 IM last night, but at least he lost it to a teammate (Salatta). Bradley stepped it up tonight,” Troy said.

 

Senior Ashley Carusone (High Springs, Fla.) and junior Leah Retrum (Columbus, Ind.) collected the first medals of the conference championships for the Florida women, as the tandem finished second and third in the 400 individual medley with a pair of NCAA ‘A’ cuts. Carusone clocked in at 4:15.95, nearly five seconds better than her season best, for second place, and Retrum turned in a time of 4:16.20 for third place.

 

Including Carusone and Retrum, the women’s squad earned an SEC-high six entries into the evening finals of the 400 IM during the morning preliminaries. Sophomore Kelsy Smith (Cary, N.C.) won the consolation final in a career-best and automatic-qualifying time of 4:19.22, while sophomore Stephanie Cota (Granite Bay, Calif.) finished fifth in the B-Final with a time of 4:23.92. Sophomore Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla.) and freshman Kristen Beales (Arlington, Va.) finished sixth and eighth, respectively.

 

Florida followed its dominating performances in the 400 IM with equally impressive finishes in the 200 free. Freshman Shaune Fraser (George Town, Grand Cayman) climbed to the top of the medal stand after clocking a career-best and ‘A’-cut time of 1:35.05 in the event, which also stands as the seventh-best time in Gator history. Junior Grant Johnson (Clearwater, Fla.) touched the wall less than two-tenths of a second later (1:35.23) to claim silver, and he also added his name to the Florida record books just behind Fraser. Junior Daniel Penniman (Pensacola, Fla.) rounded out the A-Final of the 200 free for the Orange and Blue with a seventh-place time of 1:37.63. Freshman Roland Rudolph (Budapest, Hungary) posted a personal-best time of 1:37.62 in the B-Final for second place in the heat, and sophomore Ron Ballatore (Gainesville, Fla.) finished fifth with a time of 1:38.87, also marking a career-best.

 

“Shaune has been swimming a lot of conference meets for a freshman, but to win a conference title against a really good field like he did tonight with as much confidence as he had shows his talent. He’s on his way to concluding a really outstanding freshman season,” Troy said.

 

Junior Natalie Pike (Boca Raton, Fla.) led three Florida women in the 200 free finals, as she finished fifth in the championship final with a career-best time of 1:47.11, which was just two-hundredths of a second shy of qualifying as an ‘A’ cut. Junior Kim Larson (Longwood, Fla.) also collected a career-best in the event with a time of 1:37.62 in the B-Final, and freshman Elizabeth Kemp (Potomac, Md.) clocked a personal-best of 1:48.94 in the same heat.

 

After posting the top time in the women’s 100 breast during the morning prelims, junior Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) returned for her evening swim with an even more impressive performance to win the first Florida women’s title of the conference championships. Burckle shaved over six-tenths of a second off of her prelim time to claim Florida’s third-straight SEC title in the 100 breast, and her gold-medal winning time of 1:01.27 ranks as the second-best in Florida’s annals.

 

“We had to use Caroline in the breaststroke at the last minute because we needed to fill in a few holes. She’s been so good in the event throughout the season that we thought she could win it tonight. We took a bit of a chance, but it paid off very well,” Troy said.

 

Senior Luca De Matteis (Naples, Italy) led the Florida men in the 100 breast, and his seventh-place, career-best and NCAA ‘B’-cut time of 54.30 in the A-Final propelled him from ninth to third all-time in the Florida record book. Senior Bill Mrazek (Tallahassee, Fla.) finished third in the consolation final with a ‘B’ time of 55.08.

 

In the men’s 100 backstroke, sophomore Lucas Salatta (Sao Paulo, Brazil) was narrowly out-touched in his second gold medal quest, as his provisional-qualifying time of 47.52 was a tenth of a second short of Auburn’s Scott Goodrich’s time of 47.43. Salatta’s time was two-hundredths of a second better than his previous career best, and enough to improve to fourth all-time in Florida history. Meanwhile, Pinzon finished eighth in the same heat with a time of 49.78, and sophomore Rex Tullius (Port Orange, Fla.) finished first in the B-Final after recording a time of 49.23.

 

On the women’s side of the 100 back, freshman Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England) made her first-ever appearance on the SEC Championships medal stand with a third-place performance. Her time of 54.14 marked Florida’s first ‘A’ cut of the season in the event, and ranks fifth all-time in the Florida annals. Freshman Sarah Peterson (Franklin, Tenn.) and junior Samantha Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, with ‘B’ times of 54.92 and 55.31.

 

In additional swimming action, junior Tim Hughes (Winter Park, Fla.) notched a career-best and ‘B’ time of 48.05 for eighth place in the men’s 100 butterfly championship final, and sophomore Lauren Winter (Dalkeith, Australia) also recorded a provisional time in the 100 fly with a 56.33, eighth-place performance in the women’s B-Final. Junior Amanda Hartley (Tallahassee, Fla.) finished in fourth place in the consolation final of the women’s 100 breast with a career-best and ‘B’-cut time of 1:03:33.

 

The third night of competition wrapped up with the 400 medley relay, where the men’s quartet of Salatta, Ally, Fraser and Penniman finished second with a provisional-qualifying and season-best time of 3:13.11, following a Georgia disqualification for early takeoff. The Florida women followed with a third-place showing, as Spofforth, Burckle, Winter and Pike also recorded a ‘B’-cut and season-best time of 3:40.43.

 

The Gators will wrap up the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday. Live results can be seen via live scoring by visiting www.ukathletics.com. A full recap, scoring summary and quotes will be available following the conclusion at www.gatorzone.com.

 

Men’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

703

2.

FLORIDA

547.50

3.

Georgia

308

4.

Tennessee

254.50

5.

LSU

203

6.

Alabama

199

7.

South Carolina

197.50

8.

Kentucky

146.50

 

Women’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

622

2.

Georgia

456

3.

FLORIDA

386

4.

Kentucky

307

5.

Tennessee

263.50

6.

LSU

240.50

7.

Alabama

159

8.

South Carolina

128

9.

Arkansas

112

10.

Vanderbilt

64

 

Day Two Event Winners

M 400y IM

Bradley Ally, Florida

3:45.82

W 400y IM

Adrienne Binder, Auburn

4:11.65

M 100y Butterfly

Alexei Puninski, Auburn

46.88

W 100y Butterfly

Christine Magnuson, Tennessee

52.04

M 200y Freestyle

Shaune Fraser, Florida

1:35.05

W 200y Freestyle

Kara Lynn Joyce, Georgia

1:45.21

M 100y Breaststroke

Vlad Polyakov, Alabama

52.92

W 100y Breaststroke

Caroline Burckle, Florida

1:01.27

M 100y Backstroke

Scott Goodrich, Auburn

47.43

W 100y Backstroke

Rachel Goh, Auburn

52.34^

M 400y Medley Relay

Auburn

3:10.50

W 400y Medley Relay

Auburn

3:36.57

^ - Denotes SEC record

 

SEC Championships Schedule for Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007:

Preliminary Competition

10 a.m.         200 Backstroke

                   100 Freestyle

                   200 Breaststroke

                   200 Butterfly

                   400 Freestyle Relay Time Trial

 

*1,650 Freestyle will start at approximately 3:15 p.m., with the fastest men’s and women’s seeded heat contested in Finals.

 

Finals Competition

6 p.m.           1,650 Freestyle Final

                   200 Backstroke Final

                   100 Freestyle Final

                   200 Breaststroke Final

                   200 Butterfly Final

                   400 Freestyle Relay Timed Final

 

*Events are both men’s and women’s at scheduled time, unless otherwise noted.

 

-UF-

 

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