Nov. 15, 2012
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. -- South Carolina junior Michael Flach posted the nation's fastest time in the 500-yard freestyle with a mark of 4:20.33 on Thursday morning to lead the Gamecocks in the preliminaries on day one of the Virginia Tech Invitational at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
Flach's time, which is NCAA B cut, was more than eight seconds faster than the next best time. As a team, the Gamecocks had a solid start to the invitational as they sent 32 swimmers and five divers to tonight's finals, which will get underway at 6 p.m.
Freshman Marwan El Kamash will join Flach in the 500 freestyle championship final as he finished second with a personal record of 4:28.63. Juniors Gerard Rodriguez (4:31.57, fourth) and Matt Navata (4:37.18, seventh) and senior Matt Columbus (4:38.40, eighth) will also represent South Carolina in the championship final. The Gamecocks will have two swimmers in the B final, as freshman Alex Eiden swam a PR of 4:38.58 to finish 10th and senior Brooks Ross placed 15th with a time of 4:43.46.
South Carolina will have six swimmers in the women's finals of the 500 freestyle, led by sophomore Annika Jonsson. A native of Austin, Texas, Jonsson advanced to the championship final after finishing second in the preliminary with a PR of 4:55.13. Senior Whitney Avers (5:02.31, 11th), sophomore Charlotte Ward (5:04.17, 14th) and senior Jordan Gibbs (5:05.07, 16th) qualified for the B final, while freshmen Elise Costa (5:05.95, PR, 18th) and Caroline Bixler (5:08.14, 20th) advanced to the C final.
In the women's 200-yard IM, the Gamecocks will have four swimmers competing in tonight's finals. Junior Amanda Rutqvist swam a 2:03.78 to finish third and advance to the championship final. Junior Rachael Schaffer (2:06.80, 10th), freshman Ellen Johnson (2:07.40, PR, 12th) and junior Abby Galbreath (2:08.35, 15th) will compete in the B final.
The Gamecocks sent three swimmers to the men's 200 IM finals. Senior Collin Kaden, who touched fifth with a time of 1:51.65, and sophomore Alex Vance, who swam a PR of 1:51.91 to take sixth, will be in the championship final. Junior Narayan Naik, who is coming off a three-win performance against College of Charleston, finished 11th with a PR of 1:54.49 to make the B final.
Sophomore Rachel Elliott led the South Carolina women in the 50-yard freestyle as she claimed fifth with a mark of 23.72 to advance to the championship final. Freshman Casey Papp and junior Lauren Raczkowski made the B final after a finished tied for 12th and 14th, respectively. Papp recorded a time of 24.13, while Raczkowski turned in a time of 24.14. Junior Meghan Brockington (24.36, PR) and freshmen Lauryl Williams (24.40, PR) and Nicole Mertel (24.42) qualified for the C final.
Six Gamecock men's swimmers made the 50 free finals, with three earning spots in the championship final. Junior Alex Fitton (20.91), junior Jay Warner (20.94) and sophomore Michael Covert (20.98, PR) finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively. Freshman Eric Lethander (21.04, PR, ninth) and senior Graham Kauffman (21.11, 12th) advanced to the B final, while junior Jake White (21.54) made the C final with a 19th-place finish.
On the boards, the Gamecocks will have six divers in tonight's finals. Sophomore Patricia Kranz claimed third in the three-meter springboard preliminary with a score of 314.40, while freshman Lauren Lamendola (257.60) and senior Chay Malvasio (247.70) finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
In the men's one-meter springboard competition, sophomore Cole Miller and senior Rylan Ridenour advanced to the finals, which have already concluded. Miller secured 17 points for the Gamecocks by claiming second in the finals with a score of 337.60, while Ridenour took third with a score of 329.80 to give Carolina 16 points.
The remainder of the finals are slated to get underway tonight at 6, beginning with the 200-yard freestyle relay. Live results will be available by clicking here.
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