Zack Captures SEC One-Meter Title; Carolina Women Fifth After Day Two
Feb. 19, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. - South Carolina sophomore Taryn Zack became the first Gamecock swimmer or diver to win an SEC championship since 2006 with a stellar performance in the women's one-meter diving finals Thursday night at the Martin Aquatics Center. Thanks in part to Zack's effort, the Gamecock women stand fifth in the overall standings with 131 points through two days while the Gamecock men are eighth with 61 points.
"I'm so proud of Taryn," head diving coach Todd Sherritt said. "She has worked so hard this year, and it paid off big tonight. But this isn't the end for her. If she keeps competing like this, she's going to have a great showing at the NCAA Championships. Really proud of Allison (Barr), too. She is just the hardest worker, and she's competed so well this week."
Zack's score of 325.90 outpaced runner-up Jessie Snowden of Kentucky by nearly 13 points. She became the second diver in as many years to take the SEC title on the one-meter board and finish in the runner-up spot in the three-meter event. LSU's Rachel Ware accomplished the feat in 2008 and was named SEC Diver of the Year.
South Carolina has now captured nine SEC Championships in women's diving, as Zack joins Vivian Alberty (1M, 1994; 3M, 1995), Michelle Davison (3M, 1998; 1M and 3M, 1999), Tracey Richardson (3M, 2003) and current assistant coach Allison Brennan (1M and 3M, 2006). No other SEC school has won more conference titles in the springboard events since South Carolina joined the league in 1992.
In addition, Barr gave the team 11 more points with her eighth-place showing in the event, giving the Gamecocks a much-needed 33 total points in the three-meter diving event. She notched a 276.75 in her first SEC springboard final. At one point following the diving events, the Gamecock women were fourth in the points standings, just behind perennial powers Florida, Auburn and Georgia and ahead of top-10 ranked Tennessee.
"Taryn is getting built up for a huge performance at the NCAA Championships," head swimming coach McGee Moody said. "We are extremely lucky to have a diver of her caliber in our program. She excels at diving in pressure situations, and she obviously responded very well tonight."
The swimmers did not fare quite as well as the divers, but still managed several strong swims. The best showing came from senior Kyle Cormier, who just missed the medal stand with a fourth-place effort of 1:45.51 in the 200-yard individual medley, just a hair off his school-record pace from the morning's preliminaries. Florida's Bradley Ally took the title in the event with a mark of 1:41.96, the fastest time in the nation this year.
"Kyle was right on what he did this morning," Moody said. "He had a great swim; we just need to come back at night and be faster than we were in the morning. But his best two events are still to come with the 100 and 200 freestyle."
Amanda Dunnigan competed in the consolation finals of the 200 individual medley and finished 15th with a time of 2:00.72, a tad slower than her preliminary time of 2:00.57. She earned two points for the Gamecocks with her effort. Auburn's Ava Ohlgren won the event with a 1:55.18.
Also earning two points for South Carolina was Sharntelle McLean, who turned in a 22.86 in the women's 50-yard freestyle, finishing just .01 seconds behind Kentucky's Megan Pulskamp and .01 seconds ahead of Tennessee's Abigail Alton. The first-place points were split between Tennessee's Michele King and Georgia's Anne-Marie Botek, who tied at 21.90 seconds.
"Sharntelle was more upset about her swim than we were," Moody said. "She had a really good swim, but there's things we can fix. She'll come back tomorrow with the 100 fly, so we've got to get past tonight and get ready to compete tomorrow."
In addition, freshman Lindsey Olson, competing in her first SEC Championships, grabbed the top individual finish for a Gamecock swimmer in Thursday's finals with a 13th-place showing in the 500 freestyle, shaving another .15 seconds off her previous personal best with a clocking of 4:46.17. Georgia's Allison Schmitt took the women's 500 free title, touching the wall in 4:37.90.
The night ended with the 200 freestyle relay events, where the Gamecock men's team of Kyle Cormier, Todd Weyandt, Armin Hornikel and Nicholas Walkotten touched in an NCAA `B' cut time of 1:20.02, just ahead of Alabama for seventh place. Cormier's leadoff split of 20.11 was the fastest 50 freestyle time for South Carolina this year, less than a tenth of a second short of an NCAA `B' cut. The women's 200 FR team of Sharntelle McLean, Megan Sparks, Bridget Halligan and Kassy Kugler snagged eighth place with a time of 1:31.51, also an NCAA provisional qualifier.
The Gamecock women hit the halfway point of the 2009 championships in fifth place, 11 points ahead of sixth-place Alabama and 24.5 points behind fourth-place Tennessee. The Carolina men are 59 points back of seventh-place Kentucky, but have their best events still to come. Auburn leads the men's competition with 329.5 points, and Florida is setting the pace for the women at 312.
Friday morning sees the stroke events get underway with preliminaries in the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke. In addition, Barr will compete for the Gamecocks in the women's platform diving preliminaries. Action gets underway at 10 a.m. Central at the Martin Aquatic Center on the campus of Auburn University, and live results can be accessed through AuburnTigers.com.
TEAM STANDINGS - MEN 1. Auburn 329.5 2. Tennessee 260 3. Florida 246 4. Georgia 152.5 5. Alabama 146 6. LSU 124 7. Kentucky 120 8. South Carolina 61