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Friday October 17, 2008Gator Women Open 2008-09 Season 1-1 in Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Florida senior Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla.) rallied to win two races of the 16-event meet as Florida surpassed Michigan, 206-94, but was topped by Stanford, 178-122, to open the 2008-09 campaign 1-1 from Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor.

Florida remains undefeated against the Wolverines, holding an 8-0 series record, while UF moved to 0-1 all-time over Stanford.

Exercising the addition of a talented freshmen class, the Florida coaching staff utilized the depth to surpass the Wolverines, and the incoming Gator women stepped up to the challenge for the team. The depth of the UF squad propelled the Gators ahead in points, a promising start to the 2008-09 campaign.

Three Gator women saw their collegiate debut in the first event of the triangular meet as members of the 400-yard medley relay. The quartet of freshmen Shara Stafford (Topeka, Kan.), Lindsay Rogers (Fishers, Ind.), Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.) and junior veteran Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.) clocked in at 3:34.79 for a second-place finish behind leader Stanford.

Stafford returned two events later to finish second in the 200-yard free (1:50.04) and later secured a second-place finish for the Gators in the 100-yard free (50.45). Rogers continued her successful inaugural campaign with a second place 100-yard breast finish (1:04.27), while Crippen finished third in the 400 IM and later teamed up with fellow newcomer Katie Ambridge (Watford, England) in the 200-yard fly to finish second and third.

Two other freshmen women in Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Fla.) and Lily Ramirez (Gainesville, Fla.) rose to the challenge in the 50-yard free with second and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Napier collected third (23.22), as Florida secured three top-five finishes in the event. Ramirez and Bateman struck again in the 100-yard back, Ramirez with third (56.34), Bateman with fourth (56.55).

Freshman Kirsten Smith (Cary, N.C.) was the highlight of the 200-yard breast for the Gators as she cruised to a 2:22.02, second-place finish.

In distance free action, the Gators finished one-two in the 1000-yard free, with the victory coming from Guenthner (9:47.91), nearly eight seconds ahead of UF second-place finisher Kristen Beales (Arlington, Va.) (9:55.86). Junior Stephanie Proud (Durham, England) finished fourth (10:01.60). Both Guenthner and Proud teamed up again in the 500-yard free, where Guenthner earned her second victory of the meet (4:51.92), while Proud earned third (4:53.25).

On the one meter diving front, the Orange and Blue turned in third, seventh and ninth-place finishes, respectively, from sophomore Monica Dodson (Franklin, Ind.) and seniors Whitney Stern (Ft. Myers, Fla.) and Jeanna Bartell (Boca Raton, Fla.). In the three-meter showdown, Stern placed second (269.15), Dodson came in third (258.35) and Bartell finished fourth (257.85).

The UF women closed out the season-opening meet with a second-place finish (3:24.82) in the 400-yard free relay by the collaboration of Stafford, Napier, junior Liz Kemp (Potomac, Md.) and Ramirez.

The Gators will return to the water next Wednesday and Thursday as both the men and women visit SEC foe LSU in Baton Rouge.  The UF men take to the water at 2 p.m.  (EDT) Wednesday, while the women will duel with the Tigers at 2 p.m. (EDT) Thursday.

 

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