Nov. 15, 2012
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. — South Carolina junior Michael Flach set the mark for the rest of the nation to chase after in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday to lead the Gamecock swimming and diving teams on day one of the Virginia Tech Invitational at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
After recording a time of 4:20.33 in the preliminary heats Thursday morning to move to the top of the national rankings in the event, Flach lowered his time by nearly two seconds to win the championship final with a time of 4:18.38, which is a Christiansburg Aquatic Center pool record and a NCAA B cut. Flach’s performance highlighted a day in which 32 Gamecock swimmers and five divers made the finals at the invitational. Overall, the Gamecocks posted three NCAA B cuts and 13 personal records on the night.
Host Virginia Tech leads the men’s competition with a score of 449.5, followed by the Gamecocks (324.5), Connecticut (162) and William and Mary (119). In the women’s competition, the Hokies lead with 430 points, followed by South Carolina (244), William and Mary (159), Connecticut (156) and Liberty (139).
“Collectively, today was by far the best day we have ever had at a midseason invitational,” South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. “It’s definitely one of the best sessions the team has had since I’ve been here. We had some huge swims with Michael posting the fastest 500 freestyle time in the country. Both teams are in second place right now, which is a little deceiving because Virginia Tech has twice as many people swimming as us, but I am very happy with where we are. We are racing extremely hard. All in all we had a really great night.”
As a team, the Gamecocks dominated the men’s 500 freestyle as freshman Marwan El Kamash turned in a NCAA B cut of 4:24.50 to take second and junior Gerard Rodriguez swam a 4:27.15 to finish third. Senior Matt Columbus (4:32.50) and junior Matt Navata (4:37.47) finished fifth and seventh, respectively, for South Carolina. Freshman Alex Eiden won the B final to finish ninth overall with a PR of 4:30.02, which would have been in the top five of the championship final. Senior Brooks Ross swam a 4:33.38 to take 10th overall.
In the women’s 500 freestyle, sophomore Annika Jonsson shaved more than three seconds off her preliminary time to win the championship final with a personal record of 4:51.64. Junior Whitney Avers placed sixth (13th overall) in the B final with a time of 5:02.66, while sophomore Charlotte Ward (5:03.46) and senior Jordan Gibbs (5:10.95) also swam in the B final and finished 15th and 16th overall, respectively. Freshmen Caroline Bixler (5:01.17) and Elise Costa (5:05.61) both swam personal records in the C final to finish 18th and 21st overall.
Junior Amanda Rutqvist gave the Gamecock women’s team its second win of the night by claiming the championship final of the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:02.00, which was 1.45 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Junior Rachael Schaffer won the B final with a mark of 2:02.10 to take ninth overall, while freshman Ellen Johnson (2:06.44, PR) and junior Abby Galbreath (2:06.88) placed 12th and 13th, respectively.
In the men’s event, sophomore Alex Vance swam a PR of 1:51.27 to claim sixth in the championship final, while senior Collin Kaden touched eighth with a time of 1:52.72. Junior Narayan Naik had a strong showing in the B final as he won with a PR of 1:52.03, lowering his preliminary time by more than two seconds.
South Carolina saw several swimmers post personal records in the women’s 50-yard freestyle. Sophomore Rachel Elliott turned in a PR of 23.47 to finish sixth overall, while freshmen Casey Papp (24.05, 12th) and Lauryl Williams (24.37, 20th) also swam personal records. In the men’s event, junior Jay Warner scored 16 points for the Gamecocks with a third-place showing in the championship final in a time of 20.74. Sophomore Michael Covert captured fourth with a PR of 20.81, and junior Alex Fitton tied for fifth with a mark of 20.83. Freshman Eric Lethander won the B final with a PR of 21.03 to claim ninth overall, while senior Graham Kauffman was 10th overall with a mark of 21.08.
The Gamecocks also had a stellar showing in the relay events. In the men’s 200-yard freestyle relay, South Carolina’s team of Covert, Flach, Warner and Fitton finished second with a NCAA B cut of 1:02.30, which is the fifth fastest time in school history. The men’s 400-yard medley relay team of Covert, Navata, Flach and Fitton narrowly missed a NCAA B (3:17.79) cut as it took second place with a time of 3:17.88. In the women’s event, the team of Lindsay Pierce, Rutqvist, Papp and Schaffer finished second with a time of 3:43.88, which ranks fifth all-time at South Carolina.
The diving corps delivered another solid performance for the Gamecocks. In the men’s one-meter springboard competition, sophomore Cole Miller captured second place with a score of 337.60, while senior Rylan Ridenour was third with a mark of 329.80. On the women’s three-meter board, sophomore Patricia Kranz took second in the finals with a score of 323.30.
The invitational continues with preliminaries on Friday morning beginning at 10. The finals will be held Friday night at 6. Live results will be available by clicking here. Live video will also be available for Friday’s finals here.