Nov. 5, 2010
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – South Carolina’s men’s swimming & diving team remained undefeated on the year after taking down the Missouri Tigers, 181.5-118.5, in a dual meet on Friday at the Arkansas Natatorium. Carolina’s women, despite several standout individual efforts, fell to host Arkansas 194-106 and to Missouri 176-124.
The Carolina men are 3-0 overall, the best start to a season for the Gamecocks since 1997. South Carolina’s women fell to 3-2, including a 1-1 mark in SEC competition.
South Carolina won 11 of 14 men’s swimming events and went 1-for-2 in the diving well. The women’s divers also split the boards while the Gamecock women picked up three swimming wins.
Freshmen Rachael Schaffer and Amanda Rutqvist once again shined for South Carolina as both earned NCAA `B’ cuts in new events on Friday. Schaffer posted the second-fastest time in school history in the 400-yard individual medley, clocking a 4:17.42 – the seventh-fastest time in the country so far this year – to win by nearly three seconds over the second-place finisher.
Rutqvist earned a provisional qualifying time of her own as she won the 200 breaststroke, touching the wall in 2:15.78 to record South Carolina’s fourth-fastest all-time mark in the event and a top-15 time on the national stage. She and Schaffer now both own `B’-cut times in the 200 breast, a rarity at this point in the season. Rutqvist also took victory in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:03.64, with Schaffer just .04 seconds behind in a personal-best time of 1:03.68.
Courtney Forcucci picked up the other win for Carolina’s women, scoring a 337.65 in 3-meter diving to continue her unbeaten streak on that board as a Gamecock (7-0 dating to last season). Forcucci would finish third on the 1-meter board with senior Taryn Zack in second place. Senior Bridget Halligan posted her best time of the year in the 100 freestyle, finishing third in 52.16, and Megan Sparks also clocked a season-best in the 200 backstroke (2:03.39) to finish fifth.
On the men’s side, it was another dominating performance from sensational sophomores Michael Flach, Bobby Cave and Brooks Ross. The trio combined for six individual wins and a relay victory to lead the Gamecocks to their third straight victory.
Flach toasted the field in the 200 butterfly, clocking a smooth 1:50.65 to win by four seconds over teammate Collin Kaden. He then came back in the 100 butterfly – swimming the event for the first time as a Gamecock – and delivered another victory in a team-best 50.17. The sophomore from Annandale, Va., then capped off the night with the leadoff leg of the victorious 400 freestyle relay team, joining Gerard Rodriguez, Andrew Seiler and James Crawford to post a win in 3:05.13.
Cave continued his dominance of the breaststroke events with an easy win in the 200-yard event, clocking a 2:02.93, and he posted his best time of the season in the 100 breast with a 56.56. Ross was once again the king of the distance events, posting a 9:26.67 to run away with the 1000 freestyle and then came back later in the meet with a 4:33.98 in the 500 free to win by seven seconds. Fellow sophomore Matt Columbus took second place in both swims.
Not to be overlooked, junior Chris Kelly continued his strong performances in the early part of the season, taking top honors in the 200 backstroke in 1:50.03. He also won the 400 IM with a time of 4:03.01 in his first attempt at the event this season. Freshman Gerard Rodriguez picked up the other swimming win for Carolina, leading a Gamecock sweep of the 200 freestyle in 1:39.82; Kelly took second and Alex Fitton was third.
Sophomore Rylan Ridenour saw his unbeaten streak for the season come to an end as he finished fourth on the 1-meter board. But before that, he ran that streak to five in a row with a win in 3-meter diving, scoring 365.55 to outpace Missouri’s David Bonuchi.
South Carolina will have a week off to prepare for the biggest meet of the fall season. The Gamecocks will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Nike Cup Invitational, which runs Nov. 18-20 at the Koury Natatorium on the campus of North Carolina.