Nov. 17, 2010
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By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s swimming & diving teams will wrap up their fall season this weekend as they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the three-day Nike Cup Invitational. The meet runs Thursday through Saturday at the Koury Natatorium on the UNC campus.
The Gamecock men enter the meet at 3-0 through the first portion of the dual-meet season and ranked No. 24 in the nation. It is the first time South Carolina has been in the rankings under fourth-year head coach McGee Moody; the last time the Gamecocks appeared in the national polls came during the 2001-02 season. South Carolina has defeated Western Kentucky, Clemson and Missouri in dual-meet competition thus far, winning easily in all three meets.
Sophomores Michael Flach, Bobby Cave and Brooks Ross have led the way for Carolina so far this season and will look to post NCAA qualifying times in their best events this week. Flach will compete in the 200 and 500 freestyle and the 200 butterfly along with several relays, while Cave holds down the breaststroke events and Ross will tackle the distance freestyle. Junior Chris Kelly will seek season-best swims in the backstroke, and freshman Gerard Rodriguez continues to impress in the mid-distance freestyle, and Rylan Ridenour will seek to score big points for Carolina in the diving well.
On the women’s side, the Gamecocks are 3-2 overall (1-1 in SEC competition) and receiving votes in the national polls. Carolina has defeated Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and Clemson but fell to Arkansas and Missouri two weeks ago.
Freshmen Rachael Schaffer and Amanda Rutqvist enter the meet looking to better their NCAA invite chances after already posting provisional qualifying times in their respective events. Schaffer has two `B’ cuts in the 200 breast and 400 individual medley, and Rutqvist has also posted the team’s top time and a `B’ cut in the 200 breast. Sophomore Lindsey Olson has been strong in the distance freestyle events, and senior Bridget Halligan seeks a `B’ cut in the sprint freestyle events for the second straight year. In the diving well, Taryn Zack, Courtney Forcucci and Allison Barr provide one of the nation’s strongest trios as big things are expected from the group.
South Carolina will face strong programs this week, including host North Carolina, Navy, West Virginia, Old Dominion, Duke, East Carolina, James Madison and Syracuse. Both the Tar Heel men and women placed in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships last season, while Navy’s men took 32nd and Duke’s women were 28th.
Prelims begin at 10 a.m. each day, and finals get underway at 6 p.m. all three nights. Live results are available via TarHeelBlue.com.