Nov. 17, 2012
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. -- The South Carolina swimming and diving teams wrapped up a stellar week at the Virginia Tech Invitational as both squads finished second after Saturday's finals at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
The 21st-ranked Gamecock men finished the week with 1,021.5 points, while the Carolina women had 804 points. The Gamecocks won two championship finals and recorded three more NCAA B cuts on the night. For the week, South Carolina posted 12 NCAA B cuts and won 10 races in the championship finals.
"This has been one of the most fun weekends I've had as a coach," South Carolina head coach McGee Moody said. "We had some outstanding performances and some people really stepped up and raced hard. The team had a lot of fun this weekend, and we have big things to come the rest of the year."
Junior Michael Flach led the way on Saturday night as he posted the nation's fastest time in an event for the second time in three nights. Flach won the championship final of the 200-yard butterfly as he swam a NCAA B cut of 1:45.51, which is currently the fastest time in the country.
Junior Gerard Rodriguez placed seventh in the event with a time of 1:49.92, while junior Narayan Naik won the consolation final to finish ninth overall with a time of 1:51.87. On the women's side, junior Rachael Schaffer lowered her time by more than three seconds to take second in the women's 200 butterfly with a time of 2:01.35. Freshman Caroline Bixler won the C final with a personal best of 2:06.41
Junior Amanda Rutqvist shaved more than two seconds off her preliminary time in the 200-yard breaststroke to win the event with a NCAA B cut of 2:09.97, which is a Christiansburg Aquatic Center record and the fourth fastest time in the country. South Carolina also had a strong showing in the men's event, as sophomore Alex Vance posted a career-best time of 2:01.38 to claim first in the championship final. Senior Bobby Cave finished fifth with a mark of 2:04.03, while senior Graham Kauffman touched eighth in 2:08.36.
Freshman Marwan El Kamash posted the first NCAA B cut of his career as he claimed second place in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:29.65, which ranks fifth all-time at South Carolina. Junior Matt Navata finished fourth in 15:49.99, while seniors Brooks Ross (15:52.51) and Matt Columbus (15:52.92) took fifth and sixth, respectively.
In the women's 200-yard backstroke, freshman Nicole Mertel recorded a personal record of 2:00.44 to claim fourth in the championship final, while freshmen Alicia Cheripka (2:01.78) Elise Costa (2:02.05, PR) and senior Abby Galbreath (2:02.81) placed fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively. Sophomore Elisabeth Worrell won the consolation final with a personal record of 2:01.61. In the men's championship final, Naik captured fourth with a time of 1:48.34, and sophomore Michael Covert took sixth in 1:50.05.
Junior Alex Fitton tied a career best in the men's 100-yard freestyle to finish second with a mark of 45.29. Senior Collin Kaden (45.65, fifth) and freshman Eric Lethander (46.53, seventh) and El Kamash (47.09, eighth) also had strong swims in the championship final.
In the men's 400-yard freestyle relay, the team of Kaden, Flach, Rodriguez and Fitton posted its fastest time of the season with a mark of 2:59.86 to claim second. The women's team of Lauren Raczkowski, Rachel Elliott, Casey Papp and Schaffer claimed third with a time of 3:26.30, which is their fastest time of the season.
Host Virginia Tech won the invitational on both sides, as the 15th-ranked Hokie men had 1,523 points and the women finished with 1,491.5 points.
The Gamecocks will return to action on Jan. 12 in a road dual meet at Duke. The meet is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in Durham, N.C.
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