Nov. 18, 2010
By Wes Todd
Assistant Media Relations Director
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – South Carolina sophomore Michael Flach won the 500-yard freestyle and freshman Rachael Schaffer earned her third NCAA `B’ cut of the season to highlight a strong opening day for the Gamecocks at the Nike Cup Invitational.
Flach, who swam the nation’s fastest time of the season in the morning’s preliminaries, was only a fraction slower in the evening’s 500 freestyle finals with a 4:21.68; however, that would have still qualified as the fastest time in the country this year if not for his performance in the prelims. He was a full second faster than North Carolina’s Joe Kinderwater to earn the Gamecocks’ first victory of the weekend. Sophomore Brooks Ross took fifth place with a personal-best time of 4:28.12 – the 10th-fastest time in school history – to earn his first NCAA `B’ cut of the season and give the Gamecocks two provisional qualifiers in the 500 free. Fellow sophomore Matt Columbus clocked a personal-best time of 4:31.21 to take second place in the C-final and 18th position overall.
Schaffer came into this week’s meet already with NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley. Add the 200 IM to her list as she came just three-tenths of a second short of setting a school record, clocking a 2:00.89 to finish in third place and post an NCAA `B’ cut time. Freshman Kelly Tannhauser took third place in the B-final with a 2:05.12, and Amanda Rutqvist won the C-final with a time of 2:06.25, with Abby Galbreath (2:07.52) and Haley Staubach (2:09.75) taking 19th and 23rd, respectively.
In the men’s 200 IM, sophomore Collin Kaden took fourth place with a time of 1:50.36, and freshman Gerard Rodriguez was close behind at 1:50.61 in fifth place. Junior James Crawford took seventh place in 1:51.99. Chris Kelly was second in the B-final, taking 10th place overall with a time of 1:51.52, and Bobby Cave took top honors in the C-final with a 1:52.56. Ryan Connolly was 21st overall with a 1:57.01.
Senior Bridget Halligan just barely missed picking up a `B’ cut time in the 50 freestyle, clocking a season-best 23.09 to finish in fourth place and just .07 seconds shy of an NCAA provisional time. Senior Megan Sparks took second place in the C-final (18th overall) with a time of 24.18. In the men’s 50 free, sophomore Andrew Seiler was slightly faster than his preliminary swim, clocking a 20.68 to finish in fifth place. Senior Brett Sexton finished 24th with a 21.52.
In the diving well, junior Courtney Forcucci took third place on the 3-meter board with a 12-dive score of 625.50. Senior Taryn Zack was fourth with a 614.40, and senior Allison Barr took fifth with a 611.70. In men’s 1-meter diving, sophomore Rylan Ridenour finished sixth with a six-dive total of 305.65.
The Gamecock relay teams performed well on the night. The women’s 200 free relay team of Halligan, Sparks, Lauren Raczkowski and Matea Peteh took fifth place in 1:35.21 to lead off the night, and the 400 medley team of Sparks, Rutqvist, Schaffer and Halligan were also fifth with a season-best time of 3:46.64. The men’s 200 FR team – Seiler, Rodriguez, Max Heinze and Sexton – took seventh place with a 1:23.87, and the top 400 FR team was fifth as Heinze, Cave, Flach and Rodriguez turned in a 3:21.53.
South Carolina’s women are currently in second place with 180 points and the Gamecock men are third with 231. North Carolina leads both competitions with the Navy men in second place.
Friday’s prelims get underway at 10 a.m. from the Koury Natatorium with the 400 IM, 200 free and 100s of back, breast and fly on the schedule. Live scoring is available through tarheelblue.com.