Auburn Men, Women Lock Up NCAA Invites Ahead of SEC Championships

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 16

February 05th, 2022 ACC, College, News, SEC

2022 Auburn Invitational

  • February 4-5, 2021
  • James E. Martin Aquatic Center, Auburn, Alabama
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards), Timed FInals
  • Day 1 results

A year ago, the Auburn Tigers sent two individual men to the 2021 NCAA Championships, who scored no points, and no relays.

But first year head coach Ryan Wochomurka is sharing the very large ship in a hurry on The Plains, and on Friday, the Tigers locked in a men’s relay qualification for the 2022 championships, which is a significant turnaround from last season.

The Auburn relay of Nate StoffleAidan StoffleLogan Tirheimer, and Matthew Yish combined for a 1:16.82 in the 200 yard free relay.

While a touchpad error means that we don’t know the middle two splits of the relay, it appears that Nate Stoffle opened in 19.67, Aidan Stoffle and Tirheimer combined for a 38.14 on the middle two legs, and Yish anchored in 19.01.

Last year, Auburn’s season-best in the 200 free relay was 1:18.55, which ranked them 8th among 10 SEC teams. Their time from Friday ranks them 2nd behind only the 9-time defending conference champion Florida Gators.

Wochomurka was a member of the Auburn team in the 2000s, when the program was built around a dominant core of sprinters. His hiring brought with it not only the pressure to rebuild the program as a whole, but especially to rebuild the sprint group, and early returns are a positive sign.

By comparison, three of those four swimmers (Yish, Tirheimer, and Aidan Stoffle) were on the team’s best 200 free relay last year, combining with the freshman Nate Stoffle now for a much faster result.

The Tigers already had an “A” standard in the 200 medley relay from the mid-season invite, but previously did not even have a “B” standard in the 200 free relay. Because of their “A” standards, they’re now able to enter at NCAAs all relays where they have at least “B” standards (Provisional Standards). That means they are now eligible to swim four of five relays, with the exception being the 800 free relay.

Auburn opened the evening with this time trial swim, and they swam a different foursome in the scored portion of the event, and they still managed to beat Florida State, showing off some depth.

The meet included contingents from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, and Emory with different levels of participation.

Florida State Women

The women’s 200 medley relay of Florida State likewise locked up an NCAA Championship invite with a Qualifying Standard time of 1:36.37 on Friday. That sneaks under the standard of 1:36.40. They now sit .01 seconds behind Louisville as the 4th-best relay in the conference so far this season.

The team of Tania QuaglieriNina KucheranJenny Halden, and Rebecca Moynihan knocked .63 seconds off their previous season-best time, which happened to be last weekend against Tampa. They were just 1:37.43 at their mid-season Invite.

The Seminoles have been as hard-hit as anybody by COVID and flu cancellations this season, but they’re now locked in to a spot at NCAAs. So far, they don’t have any other Provisional Standards, but they’re likely to claim at least one more relay spot before the NCAA qualifying deadline.

Other Day 1 Highlights (Men & Women):

  • The Florida State women swam a season-best time in the 200 free relay of 1:29.90. While they still rank 5th in the ACC this season, the Seminoles may have found a spark from their mid-season invite. Rebecca Moynihan and Maddie McDonald (22.07 anchor) were both also on the mid-season relay, but the team subbed in Jenny Halden (22.39) and Aryanna Fernandes (22.80) on Friday and still managed to drop a tenth. This leaves the Seminoles with a lot of options toward SECs: freshman Gloria Muzito split 22.80 on their B relay, and senior Hannah Womer split 22.94.
  • Auburn’s Mikel Gadgaard, who was 20th at NCAAs last year in the 500 free, won the men’s 500 free in 4:16.30. Gadgaard still hasn’t locked in an NCAA qualification yet for this season, and will try to avoid having to use a Last Chance meet to do so like he did last year. He later won the 200 free in 1:34.12. That 200 free now ranks him 6th in school history.
  • Auburn sophomore Hannah Ownbey took half-a-second off her season best in the 200 IM with a 1:56.87. That’s only a tenth slower than her season-best from last year’s SEC Championship meet, where she placed 7th, and should lock up her NCAA invite. Auburn sophomores went 1-2-3 in the race. Meghan Lee, who is more of a 400 IM specialist, smoked her lifetime best with a 1:57.59 for 2nd place. Her previous best of 1:59.9 was done at last year’s SEC Championships, where she finished 28th. Margaret Gholston was 3rd in 1:59.85, which is also a new personal best.
  • Lee wasn’t done yet: she swam 1:53.00 in the 200 backstroke in a time trial, which cuts 1.99 seconds off her previous lifetime best. That ranks her 12th in the NCAA this season, and is comfortably inside of the time it took to qualify for last year’s NCAA Championship meet. She also split 24.32 on an Auburn 200 medley relay leadoff.
  • Alabama freshman Ben Hines swam 19.71 to win the 50 free ahead of three of the members of Auburn’s aforementioned 200 free relay. That’s the first time that he’s been under 20 seconds.
  • Russian swimmer Anastasia Makarova, a mid-season addition for Auburn, swam 59.98 in the 100 breaststroke. That makes her the first Auburn woman under 1 minute in the 100 breaststroke since the 2017-2018 season (Breanna Roman). Auburn’s next-best breaststroker, Carly Cummings, has a season-best of 1:00.90, so Makarova’s addition is significant for the Tigers.
  • As Florida looks to shore up their women’s relays after losing some big swimmers to medical retirements and other unexplained absences, Nikki Miller stepped up and swam a best time of 49.25 in the 100 yard free. Primarily a distance freestyler, that is a lifetime best for her by almost two seconds. She wasn’t on the team’s mid-season 400 free relay, but this flat-start time is faster than one of the legs of that relay was on a rolling start in November.
  • Auburn freshman Avery Bargeron swam a lifetime best of 52.43 in the 100 fly. That gets her close to where the NCAA qualifying standard has been in recent years, though current projections have it on the wrong side of the bubble. Her previous best was a 53.17 from Auburn’s mid-season invite, and in total she’s dropped about 7-tenths of a second from her high school best time so far.
  • Mykenzie Leehy won the 200 free in a season-best time of 1:45.20, ahead of Miller’s 1:46.00. Leehy was the AAC Champion in the 200 free for Houston last season, and is one of the swimmers who followed Wochomurka to Auburn.
  • Florida freshman Raphael Rached Windmuller took four-tenths off his best time in the 100 breaststroke with a 53.35.
  • After swimming as part of the 200 free relay, freshman Nate Stoffle led off Auburn’s 400 medley relay in 45.93, which now ranks him 8th all-time in Auburn school hisotry.

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James E Power
9 months ago

My family is so happy for the Auburn Tigers to have Coach Ryan there on the pool deck. We are cheering for the Tigers except when facing Florida. His work with our swimmers here at the University of Houston was a pleasure to behold because you knew his goal was to help those ladies to pursue their very best in swimming, academics and life. We are forever grateful for the four years our daughter swam for with Coach Ryan and for his impact on local swimming in our Houston area. Duty, honor and integrity while striving for the highest standards in swimming while caring for his athletes were his trademark signature and I know those are his principles anywhere coaching… Read more »

Rowdy Marsh
9 months ago

The WOCHO Madness is pushin’ 🅿️

Swim Fan
9 months ago

That caption 🤯
How is it possible that a program can go from winning back to back titles (for both men and women) to scoring 0 points at NCAAs in 15 years?

New Coach Same Swimmers
Reply to  Swim Fan
9 months ago

Simple. Gary happened.

turkey vulture
Reply to  New Coach Same Swimmers
9 months ago

Ehhhhh the decline started long before Gary arrived.

Brett built the anti-culture. Gary just finished the journey. Auburn women were 16th and men were 12th in the season before Brett “resigned.”

He could at least recruit enough sprinters from the 2000s legacy to keep the team afloat, even if he wasn’t really doing a great job as a coach, I guess.

swimmer
Reply to  turkey vulture
9 months ago

Gary & his staff inherited a dumpster fire, and worked hard for three years to build it back. I’m not denying that last year was awful results wise, but Gary left that program in way better shape than he found it…

Last edited 9 months ago by swimmer
swimmer
Reply to  New Coach Same Swimmers
9 months ago

Not fair, and not true. Look to your own alumni (swimmers & coaches) if you want a scapegoat.

Last edited 9 months ago by swimmer
samulih
Reply to  Swim Fan
9 months ago

just like any other program that has won, times change people change, something that worked is not working like before…. Maybe bagmen left and it was harder to recruit…. who knows, all programs have up and downs

Kachow
Reply to  Swim Fan
9 months ago

I would love to see how the new coach managed to turn the team around so fast! Have been a little concerned about how fast they’ve swam in season but we’ll see if they can keep it up come SEC and NCAAs

swimmer
Reply to  Kachow
9 months ago

No knock to the current staff, but this year was going to better regardless. Taylor and his staff told the Auburn swim alumni this a year ago.

Stoffle University
9 months ago

🤫, #doubleshoota

swimdaag
9 months ago

The wocho era has begun😳

samulih
Reply to  swimdaag
9 months ago

oh the preseason hype still living strong in you, young one, learn you will….

Jpswam4au
9 months ago

We coming

Swimm
Reply to  Jpswam4au
9 months ago

All the way to 6th place at SECs!

spike ball gang member
9 months ago

STOFFLES 🅿️🅿️🅿️

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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