2017 Women’s SEC Championships Fan Guide: Aggies Aim for Back-to-Back Titles

2017 WOMEN’S SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2016-17 NCAA postseason is slated to kick off tonight with the 2017 SEC Championships at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center on the University of Tennessee’s campus. The action gets started on Tuesday, February 14th and finishes out the 5-day schedule on Saturday, February 18th.

After winning their first SEC Championship title in program history, the Texas A&M women will look to take back-to-back titles. They’ll be facing a tough Georgia squad who will be looking for redemption after having their conference streak snapped and finishing 3rd behind Texas A&M and Tennessee last season in one of the closest SEC meets we’ve seen in several years.

SCHEDULE

The SEC is the only major conference to use the 5-day meet format, which spreads events out and should prevent too many swimmers from running into tough doubles. The event lineup is listed below:

Tuesday:

  • Men’s 1-meter diving
  • 200 Medley Relay
  • Women’s 3-meter diving
  • 800 Free Relay

Wednesday:

  • 500 Free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • Women’s 1-meter diving
  • 200 Free Relay

Thursday:

  • 400 IM
  • 100 Fly
  • Men’s 3-meter diving
  • 200 Free

Friday:

  • 200 Fly
  • 100 Back
  • 100 Breast
  • Women’s Platform diving
  • 400 Medley Relay

Saturday:

  • 1650 Free
  • 200 Back
  • 100 Free
  • 200 Breast
  • Men’s Platform diving
  • 400 Free Relay

STARS

Alabama  Mia Nonnenberg (junior IM/freestyler), Bridget Blood (senior breaststroker), Bailey Scott (junior freestyler), Temarie Tomley (junior freestyler) – Nonnenberg is one of the major players for Bama. She comes in with medal potential as the 2nd seed in the mile.

Arkansas – Natalie Burnett (senior fly/freestyler), Ayumi Macias (freshman freestyler), Olivia Weekley (junior butterflier), Madison Strathman (sophomore breaststroker) – Newcomer Macias has a chance to make a big impact. She comes in as a top-8 seed in the 500 free and the 3rd seed in the mile.

Auburn  Natasha Lloyd (senior breaststroker), Ashley Neidigh (senior IM/freestyler), Julie Meynen (freshman freestyler), Zoe Thatcher (junior IM/freestyler), Aly Tetzloff (sophomore fly/freestyler), Caroline Baddock (junior backstroker) – Freshman Meynen now headlines a solid Auburn sprint group, and could help work the Tigers back into the top 8 in the individual sprints this season.

Florida  Autumn Finke (senior freestyler), Sherridon Dressel (freshman back/freestyler), Amelia Maughan (junior freestyler), Savanna Faulconer (freshman free/IMer), Alyssa Yambor-Maul (senior butterflier) – After winning the title in 2015, Maughan will look to bring the Gators back to the top of the 200 free podium this season.

Georgia – Olivia Smoliga (senior back/freestyler), Kylie Stewart (junior back/butterflier), Megan Kingsley (junior fly/IMer), Chantal Van Landeghem (senior freestyler), Emily Cameron (breast/IMer), Veronica Burchill (freshman fly/freestyler), Meaghan Raab (junior free/IMer) – Freshman Burchill fits in nicely as a part fo Georgia’s sprint free relays. The Bulldogs should be tough to beat between Burchill, Smoliga, and Van Landeghem in the individual sprints as well.

Kentucky – Danielle Galyer (senior backstroker), Bridgette Alexander (junior backstroker), Asia Seidt (freshman back/IMer), Geena Freriks (sophomore freestyler), Ali Galyer (freshman free/backstroker) – The Kentucky women have a standout backstroke group this year, including the likes of reigning NCAA champ Galyer, returning finalist Alexander, and freshmen Seidt and Galyer

LSU – Kara Kopcso (senior butterflier), Leah Troskot (senior freestyler), Colleen O’Neil (senior breaststroker), Devon Dabney (senior freestyler) – Troskot and Kopcso both return for the Tigers after earning championship final berths last season, and will each play a key role on the sprint relays.

Missouri – Hannah Stevens (junior backstroker), Nadine Laemmler (senior backstroker), Katharine Ross (senior breaststroker), Sharli Brady (junior fly/IMer), Alexa Beckwith (junior diver) – Stevens should be one of the top contenders for Mizzou this season. She’s currently ranked in the top 8 nationally for both backstrokes.

South Carolina – Taylor Worrell (junior fly/freestyler), Emma Barksdale (sophomore IMer), Paige Maynard (sophomore butterflier), Kersten Dirrane (junior breaststroker), Julia Vincent (senior diver), Marissa Roth (junior diver) – Worrell will look to return to the top 8 this season as the Gamecocks’ only returning individual championship finalist. They should also get a big boost from diving, as both Roth and Vincent were finalists last season.

Tennessee – Meghan Small (freshman back/free/IMer), Kira Toussaint (senior back/freestyler), Madeline Tegner (junior freestyler), Madeline Banic (sophomore fly/freestyler), Colleen Callahan (senior breast/IMer) – All-American Toussaint is one of the favorites in the 100 back, and should bring the Vols a good amount of sprint free points. Freshman Small could be contending for a 200 IM title in her first NCAA season.

Texas A&M – Bethany Galat (junior IM/breaststroker), Sydney Pickrem (junior breast/IMer), Beryl Gastaldello (junior fly/back/freestyler), Sarah Gibson (senior free/butterflier), Lisa Bratton (junior back/IMer) – The Aggies should get huge points in the breaststroke and IM races. Bratton, Pickrem, and Galat alll return after sweeping the 400 IM podium last season. Both Bratton and Galat went on to win individually after Pickrem took the 400 IM.

Vanderbilt – Kara Lucenti (junior breaststroker), Kathryn Coughlin (senior breaststroker), Breanna Sapienza (junior butterflier) – Both Lucenti and Coughlin will look to repeat as individual breaststroke scorers for Vanderbilt.

SHOWDOWNS

200 IM – Kentucky freshman Asia Seidt is poised to race for an SEC title as the current conference leader in the 200 IM. There to challenge, however, will be Texas A&M’s defending conference champion Lisa Bratton. This is the first of a few good matchups between those 2 swimmers over the course of the week. Also in the mix for the Aggies will be returning finalists Bethany Galat, Kristin Malone, and Sydney Pickrem. Georgia will send in Meaghan Raab, who won bronze in this event last season, and potentially Emily Cameron as well. Tennessee’s Meghan Small is another freshman to look out for, as her personal best is fast enough to have won the event last season.

100/200 Back – Both backstroke races at the SEC championships will be stacked, with Georgia’s defending champion Olivia Smoliga leading the conference so far this season in the 100 back. The 200 back will be headlined by Texas A&M’s defending SEC champion Lisa Bratton and Kentucky’s reigning NCAA champion Danielle Galyer. Look for Galyer’s freshman teammate Asia Seidt to shake things up, though, as she’s leading the conference so far in the 200 back and sits 2nd in the 100 back. The Wildcats’ loaded backstroke group will also include Bridgette Alexander and Ali Galyer. Missouri’s Hannah Stevens is another big title threat in both races after putting up blistering times of 51.1 and 1:51.7 at midseason. Several other All-Americans will make a run for a backstroke title, including Beryl Gastaldello (Texas A&M), Kylie Stewart (Georgia), Nadine Laemmler (Missouri), and Kira Toussaint (Tennessee).

100 Fly  Texas A&M’s defending SEC champion Sarah Gibson and 2015 SEC champion Beryl Gastaldello will square off again this season in the 100 fly. Georgia freshman Veronica Burchill and juniors Kylie Stewart and Chelsea Britt will look to crash the Aggies’ party in that race. Tennessee’s Madeline Banic, who won bronze last season, and Auburn’s Aly Tetzloff and Haley Black are also likely to make a splash here.

SELECTIONS

The Aggies are deep in several events, and look dangerous to repeat as SEC Champions and capture their 2nd conference title in school history. They have a loaded lineup in the IMs and breaststrokes. Looking at the preliminary psych sheets, we can see that they have 6 of the top 8 seeds in the 200 breast. In addition, several of their swimmers are returning champions or medalists, including All-Americans Sydney Pickrem, Lisa Bratton, Bethany Galat, and Sarah Gibson among others.

Despite losing a few big names to graduation at the end of last season, the Bulldogs will be battling for redemption after the Aggies’ snapped their SEC title streak in 2016. Georgia has a few freshmen with championships final potential, and All-American transfer Chelsea Britt has big potential in the butterflies. The return of sprinter Chantal Van Landeghem will also give them a boost.

After finishing a close 2nd last season, Tennessee will make a push for another top 3 finish. They lost a few key players to graduation at the end of last season, including All-American sprinters Faith Johnson and Harper Bruens, who brought in a lot of points individually and played a huge role in the Volunteer relays. Transfer Katie Armitage, who could have helped reshift their medley relays, is absent from the entries. Freshman Erika Brown could go a long way in making up for the loss in the sprints and relays. Adding Meghan Small also helps make up for the gap in their IM lineup after losing SEC finalists Lauren Driscoll and Amanda Carner.

The Kentucky women have to be looking at one of their best lineups in school history, and could make a big leap from their 8th place finish last season. They’ll likely be contending for one of the top 5 spots with Missouri, Tennessee, and Auburn. The Florida Gators will look to battle back into the top 5, but it’ll likely come down to how some of their key freshmen perform.

  1. Texas A&M
  2. Georgia
  3. Tennessee
  4. Missouri
  5. Auburn
  6. Kentucky
  7. Florida
  8. LSU
  9. Alabama
  10. Arkansas
  11. South Carolina
  12. Vanderbilt

Editor’s note: Auburn’s Ashley Neidigh is the sister of author Lauren Neidigh.

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1anda2

Based on the Psych Sheet order it looks like the diving events will actually go as follows:
Tues – Men’s 1m, Women’s 3m
Wed – Women’s 1m
Thur – Men’s 3m
Fri – Women’s Platform
Sat – Men’s Platform

They alternate each year so that will flip back to the order you have listed above for 2018.

Gator swim mom

Greg Troy’s mustache is the SEC’s Version of Henry Cambell’s chin beard. Both iconic and world class.

Dawgpaddle

Small wins the 200 IM

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. She got her M.S. in Criminology from Florida State and seems exceptionally confused about which team she should cheer for during the college football season. Lauren is currently a coach at Loggerhead Aquatics …

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