Oct. 31, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina swimming and diving program opened SEC competition Saturday morning, hosting Alabama’s men and women. The Crimson Tide, who entered the day ranked 10th for the men and 24th for the women, won both duals. The final men’s score was 166-132, and the women’s score was 191.5-108.5.
The women started the day out with a clean sweep of the top three in the one-meter dive. Julia Vincent edged out teammate Marissa Roth for the win, with a score of 297.60. Roth (288.07) and Allyson Neid (278.62) would set new season bests to take the final two spots, respectively. Jordan Gotro won the event on the men’s side with a final tally of 322.42, and Lyle Markman placed third at 231.60.
Alabama swept the 400 medley relay to open the swim portion, but Carolina packed in the scorers with the 1000 free. For the women it would be a 2-3-4 showing, with Sarah Smith touching first for the home team at 10:20.03. Cody Bekemeyer and Tomas Peribonio finished first and second, respectively, to drive the men’s comeback from a slight early deficit. Bekemeyer set a new best in the race, touching in 9:09.51.
On the back of Akaram Mahmoud, the Gamecock men would take a slight lead after the 200 free. The sophomore would set a new personal best with a time of 1:38.73, and closed an early gap to hold off Alabama’s Crews Wellford by just .18 seconds. The Tide appeared to pull away after taking the top three in the 100 backstroke, but another 1-2 finish for Carolina cut into the margin. Nils Wich-Glasen (54.85) and Kevin Leithold (55.08) scored big with the top two spots, and Leithold picked up an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time in the process.
To close out the first eight events before the diving break, the Gamecocks raced the 50 free. For the women, Taylor Vincent won a dramatic race with Alabama’s Lindsay Morrow, touching in 23.98 to Morrow’s 23.99. Alabama’s men swept the top three spots in its 50, taking an 86-63 lead into the break.
Back on the boards, Carolina’s women dominated at the three-meter height as well and claimed the top four spots. It would be Lauren Lamendola getting the win for the Gamecocks, scoring 307.80. She was followed by Roth (304.72) in second and Vincent (287.55) in third.
Leithold got thing started back up with a bang after notching a win in the 100 free out of the break, getting the touch in .19 seconds before Alabama’s Kristian Gkolomeev. Two races later, Carolina would again cut into the deficit after Mahmoud won his second event of the day in the 500 free. He beat out his teammate Peribonio for the win, almost six seconds ahead of Alabama’s top finisher.
The Crimson Tide remained ahead on both the men’s and women’s side, but the Gamecocks had a chance to make up more ground heading into the men’s chance at the three-meter dive. Gotro would sweep the day, coming through with a tight win. He trailed heading into his final attempt, and needed a 6.7 to erase the deficit. He would do just that, winning with a score of 390.75 to edge out Alabama’s Brent Sagert (389.77).
The meet wrapped up with the 200 individual medley and 400 freestyle relay. Emma Barksdale took second in the women’s 200 IM with a new personal best of 2:06.01. For the men, Wich-Glasen picked up his second win of the day in the 200 IM, and was followed immediately by Peribonio. The Tide would win the 400 free relay on both sides to close out the meet.
South Carolina Head Swimming Coach McGee Moody
On the men’s team
I think the times we put up were not bad, I think it was a little deceiving, there were some events that we lost in very, very close races and it made some very good times stand out a little less. We had the men’s 200 fly, a total of 16 hundredths of a second cost us seven points but all three guys put up great times. It’s hard to be upset with where we are, we just have to be able to put our hand on the wall first in those close race. All in all, from a performance standpoint it was a good day. I’m disappointed with the loss, I think it’s good to battle but you want to come out with a win.
On the women’s team
I don’t think we were quite as sharp as I expected us to be, and I think we have to figure that out this week. We were good, though, we raced hard, I was proud of their fight. They never gave up, they scratched and clawed for every point they could get and I was very happy about that. It’s such a young group, and they’re still learning stuff. I think all in all, we’re continuing to learn how to compete.
South Carolina Head Diving Coach Todd Sherritt
On the men’s team
Obviously, shutting down Alabama is huge, they’ve got a good diving team, they’re always good. I’m not totally surprised, because we’ve been training really well and Jordan especially has gotten a lot better this year. Jordan’s got two big wins under his belt now, when Cole (Miller) graduated last year he’s slid right into his place and he’s going to take it to the next level.
On the women’s team
My girls did great, there’s some thing that were in there that are mechanical things that we’re trying to fix. Even though we shut them out, you still have the good, the bad and the ugly. We have some rough edges but it’s the beginning of the year, our second meet and against a talented team. It makes a big difference when one person isn’t performing, you have three others that can sit right in there.
The SEC season continues next weekend, as both the men and women hit the road to take on Florida on Nov. 6. The Gators were third on the men’s side and sixth for the women in the latest CSCAA Top 25 poll.
“We go from Alabama to another tough dual next week. We never go in without the expectation of winning. Our coaches put a lot of time into putting up lineups that will put us in the best position to win,” Coach Moody said. “The way our guys are competing, I’m not putting anything past them. I think we’re getting to the point where they’re realizing they’re as good as anyone in the country.”