Auburn honored its 12 seniors prior to its final dual meet of the season, but it was the freshmen who made the biggest waves in the clash with South Carolina, winning 9 events between two convincing team wins for the Auburn men (170-124) and women (177-118).
Allyx Purcell was one of those freshman sensations, winning the 50 and 100 frees for the Tigers at home. Purcell went 22.61 in the 50 to touch out senior teammate Emily Bos by just a tenth. She then returned to easily pace the 100, going 49.85.
Fellow collegiate rookie Joe Patching took two wins on the men’s side. He went 48.35 in the 100 back to knock off South Carolina’s Michael Covert, then won the final individual event of the day, the 200 IM, in 1:49.84 over fellow freshman Michael Duderstadt.
Duderstadt won the 100 breast for Auburn in 55.30 and in the women’s edition of the event, another freshman, Natasha Lloyd picked up a 1:02.86 win. Freshmen also swept the 100 butterflies with Maddie Martin (56.48) winning for the women and Cam Jones (48.44) for the men. Jones topped a pair of Tiger seniors, TJ Leon and Marcelo Chierighini in that event.
The last freshman winner was Ashley Neidigh in the women’s 1000 free. She touched out the Gamecocks’ Victoria Mitchell by just a few tenths, 10:01.05 to 10:01.26.
South Carolina won just four men’s and four women’s events on the day. The Gamecocks swept the 200 breasts with Amanda Rutqvist (2:16.78) and Alex Vance (2:03.89) and also picked up a pair of diving wins with Patty Franz winning on women’s 1-meter (292.20) and Cole Miller doing the same on men’s 3-meter (382.20).
Despite facing a significant scoring deficit on the road, the Gamecocks fought hard till the very end. Nowhere was that better evidenced than in the 200 IM when Abby Galbreath came from behind to beat Auburn’s Sarah Peterson 2:06.30 to 2:06.85 in the last individual race of the women’s meet. Peterson had already picked up a dominating win in the 200 fly (2:02.88) earlier in the night.
Though the freshmen grabbed headlines, Auburn’s seniors were no slouches on their night either. James Disney-May was a fast 19.87 to win the men’s 50, while Emily Bos entered some new, lengthier territory, swimming the 200 back and winning easily in 1:56.81. She hadn’t swum that event since NCAAs her sophomore year.
Senior Zane Grothe won the 500 free with a 4:28.96 and just missed a win in the 200 free, falling by two tenths to Arthur Mendes’s 1:37.66. One more senior, Aubrey Peacock, won a race for the Tigers, going 54.72 in the 100 back. All-American senior Olivia Scott was still absent; she’s been taking time away from the team this spring and has not yet returned with SECs now only about two weeks away.
Star senior Marcelo Chierighini only entered one individual race, the 100 fly where he got third. But he still put up big splits on two winning Auburn relays. He was 19.6 anchoring the 200 medley and 42.7 in the same slot on the 400 free relay. Also worth noting on those relay squads are great splits from Kyle Darmody (backstroke on the medley, 22.1) and Grothe (43.8 leading off the 400 free relay).
The Auburn women also swept the relays. Bos was 24.8 leading off the 200 medley and Purcell added a 22.3 anchor split to set up a 1:40.03 win. Bos was again impressive on the 400 free relay, going 49.0 on the anchor leg of a 3:22.31 team.
Other Auburn women winners were junior Cinzia Calabretta on women’s 3-meter and Jillian Vitarius in the women’s 200.
Frazier McKean triumphed on men’s 1-meter, Alexander Hancock won the men’s 100 free and Jacob Siar won a tight race in the men’s 200 back.
The South Carolina men got a 1000 free touch-out win from Marwan El Kamash as well as a win in the 200 fly from Michael Flach. The Gamecock women also took the 500 free with Victoria Mitchell.