Oct. 13, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s swimming and diving team had a solid start to its season on Saturday as it split with national powers Texas A&M and North Carolina at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium.
The Gamecocks (1-1, 1-0 SEC) defeated the Aggies, 160-140, and fell to the Tar Heels 168-132. On the women’s side, South Carolina (0-2, 0-1 SEC) dropped a 190-102 decision to Texas A&M and lost to North Carolina 198-99.
South Carolina was going against four teams that finished in the top 20 at last year’s NCAA Championships, as the Aggies placed 13th (men) and sixth (women) and the Tar Heels finished 14th (men) and 19th (women). Gamecock head coach McGee Moody was proud of the way his team competed on Saturday.
“There weren’t any surprises today,” Moody said. “You bring two women’s teams in here that are in the top 10 in the country in UNC and Texas A&M, and they swam fast. You had outstanding swims by UNC, outstanding swims by Texas A&M and outstanding swims by us. As a whole for our women, I thought we raced well.
“On the men’s side, you bring in two top 20 teams. We had an outstanding meet. Our guys really fought hard. It was close with both teams all the way through the meet. I was very pleased with how much drive they showed through their races.”
On the afternoon, the Gamecocks had seven first-place finishes, with six coming in the pool and one on the boards.
The Gamecock diving corps gave both the men and women’s teams points on the one and three-meter springboards. Sophomore Patricia Kranz started things off with a win on the one-meter board with a score of 285.95. Freshman Lauren Lamendola finished fourth with a mark of 250.25. In the men’s even, sophomore Cole Miller claimed third with a score of 306.00.
On the three-meter springboard, Lamendola led the South Carolina women with a fourth-place showing, posting a score of 269.20. Miller placed second for the men with a score of 382.95.
“I’m really happy with the way things went,” South Carolina head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. “Patti is really beginning to put it together. I think you are going to see her climb the ladder really fast this year. I was very happy with Lauren Lamendola as well. She is really, really good. Cole did a great job for us. The Texas A&M divers are the best in the conference. Finishing second and third up against those guys is pretty impressive.”
In the pool, junior Michael Flach made the most of his return to collegiate swimming, claiming three wins on the day. Flach, who took an Olympic redshirt last season, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:38.56), 200-yard butterfly (1:48.69) and the 200-yard IM (1:50.95, PR).
Freshman Marwan El Kamash had a stellar collegiate debut as he finished first in the 500-yard freestyle and second in the 1,000-yard freestyle (9:21.21).
Junior Matt Navata placed first in the 200-yard breaststroke with a personal record of 2:03.13 and finished second in both the 100-yard breaststroke (57.74) and the 200 IM (1:51.24). Senior Collin Kaden also recorded a win for the Gamecocks as he took first in the 100-yard butterfly with a mark of 49.68.
The Gamecock men’s 400-yard freestyle relay team of El Kamash, Gerard Rodriguez, Kaden and Flach narrowly missed wrapping up the day with a win in one of the most thrilling races of the meet. Texas A&M’s JT Stilley touched the wall just ahead of Flach in the final leg, as Texas A&M took first with a time of 3:02.04 and the Gamecocks finished second in 3:02.05.
On the women’s side, junior Amanda Rutqvist led the way with a pair of second-place finishes. Rutqvist touched second in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.14. She also claimed second in the 200 breaststroke with a mark of 2:14.87.
The Gamecocks will have next week off before returning to action at home against Florida on Oct. 26. The meet is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the Blatt P.E. Center/Carolina Natatorium.