Men's Swimming & Diving Headline
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Two days after breaking the Southeastern Conference record on the women’s three-meter boards, University of Florida senior diver Monica Dodson (Franklin, Ind.) broke the SEC record in the women’s platform competition (five dives) with a score of 325.20 Sunday on the final day of the 2011 SEC Diving Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Auburn’s Dan Mazzaferro took home the men’s platform championship with a score of 475.20.
“It’s unbelievable,” head diving coach Donnie Craine said. “That was our goal from the beginning of the year when we came back and started training. It’s been an unbelievable weekend. We’re on to the NCAA qualifying meet and we’re ready to go.”
For her efforts this weekend, Dodson was named the 2010-11 SEC Women’s Diver of the Year, joining last year’s winner Kara Salamone as the only Gators to ever win the award. In addition to Dodson’s honor, Craine was named the SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, tying for the second-highest total in league history.
After diving to a 294.45 second-place finish behind Auburn’s Anna Aguero (295.15) in the morning prelims, the two battled it out for first place in the afternoon. With Aguero leading 197.50-194.85 after three rounds, Dodson used the next two rounds to take the lead once and for all. The Indiana native scored a 69.60 on her fifth and final dive to give her the SEC record, and needed Aguero to score less than 73.30 to garner her second title of the weekend. When Aguero’s final score of 57.00 flashed on the scoreboard, giving the Auburn Tiger a final score of 308.90, Dodson had won her second SEC championship.
“I feel honored,” Dodson said. “The girls here are awesome divers and awesome competitors. They (the Auburn divers) really brought the best out of me, and I want to thank them. I also want to thank the fans for being here and cheering so loudly. I’m so glad it (the meet) ended on such a bright note.”
Dodson is the only diver in school history to capture both the women’s platform and three-meter event, while joining LSU’s Kelly Hill (1990 and 1991) and Susie Ryan (1994) as the only divers in league history to win both events at the same SEC Championship meet. The senior captured the conference record in the platform event by breaking Salamone’s 2010 mark of 324.45. The two former teammates are the first pair of divers from the same school to bring home the platform title in back-to-back years since Kentucky’s Kari Retrum and Taryn Ignacio in 2004 and 2005.
Also scoring points for the Gator women were junior Kaylee Doback (Brandon, Fla.) and freshman Danielle Risley (Jacksonville, Fla.). In their SEC debuts, the two UF women scored points in every single event this weekend, including the women’s platform. Doback finished 10th on the platform with a score of 226.05, while Risley’s 11th-place score of 219.10 marked a career best.
“I thought Kaylee and Risley did an absolute fantastic job this weekend,” Craine said.
On the men’s side, junior Anthony Lewark (Davie, Fla.) reached the finals for the second consecutive day, taking seventh on the men’s platform with a score of 297.05. Lewark qualified for the finals by also finishing seventh in the prelims with a score of 316.45.
“The first day Anthony faltered, but Saturday and Sunday he dove better and better,” Craine said.
Anthony’s brother, freshman Michael Lewark (Davie, Fla.), along with redshirt freshman Christopher Jones (Palm City, Fla.), also scored points for the Orange and Blue with career-high marks. Lewark dove to a 304.45 mark to take 10th in the prelims, while Jones shattered his career best with a 283.40 14th-place mark in the first men’s session of the day. Senior Jonathan Speed (Jupiter, Fla.) finished just outside the scoring ranks, taking 17th in the prelims with a score of 257.60.
Heading into the swimming portion of the 2011 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships (Feb. 16-19 in Gainesville), the Auburn men (135 points) and women (96 points) are in first place. The Gator women will enter Wednesday’s swimming opener in second place with 89 points, while the UF men will jump into the pool in third place with 49 points. Florida hosts for the event for the first time since 2005, with tickets selling out in January in just under 12 minutes. For live updates of the meet starting Wednesday, Gator fans are also encouraged to follow the swimming and diving program via Twitter or Facebook.
SEC Women’s Platform Diving Champions at Florida
2010 – Kara Salamone
2011 – Monica Dodson
SEC Women’s Diver of the Year at Florida
2010 – Kara Salamone
2011 – Monica Dodson
SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year at Florida
1998 – Donnie Craine
2010 – Donnie Craine
2011 – Donnie Craine
All-Time SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year Awards
1. Mike Lyden, LSU/Kentucky – 7
T-2. Donnie Craine, Florida – 3
T-2. Scott Reich, LSU – 3
2011 SEC Men’s Championship Standings
1. Auburn – 135
2. Tennessee – 133.5
3. Florida – 49
4. LSU – 47.5
5. Alabama – 43
6. Kentucky – 42
7. Georgia – 15
2011 SEC Women’s Championship Team Standings
1. Auburn – 96
2. Florida – 89
3. South Carolina – 62
4. Arkansas – 50
5. Georgia – 38
6. Kentucky – 35
7. Tennessee – 32
T-8. Alabama – 31.5
T-8. LSU – 31.5