A handful of the top ranked teams in the NCAA will travel to Athens on Dec. 4-6 for the 2015 UGA Fall Invitational. The hosts, Georgia, will be challenged by conference foes and some of the nation’s best from across the country.
To make things interesting at the conference level, SEC rival Auburn will bring their men and women. Last season Auburn was 3rd just behind UGA on the men’s side and 4th on the women’s side at this meet.
For the women, seniors Hali Flickinger, now a U.S. National Teamer, and Annie Zhu will match up with Auburn’s Annie Lazor and Jill Vitarius. We’ll see new rivalries between the freshmen, such as Auburn’s Aly Tetzloff vs. Georgia’s Caitlin Casazza in the 100 fly.
Both Auburn and Georgia have teams loaded with talent, which could also make for a tight team race on the men’s side. Auburn will bring returning NCAA scorers Joe Patching and Kyle Darmody. The Bulldog men have some smoking guns of their own with the likes of Gunnar Bentz and Matias Koski leading the way.
For either one of those teams to come out on top, they’ll have to beat the Cal Golden Bears. Cal will return to battle with some of the top swimmers in the SEC after winning this meet last season. They’ll bring NCAA champion Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley to showdown in the backstroke races.
The Cal women, however, have opted out of attending this season. They’ll turn their focus to U.S. Winter Nationals that same weekend instead. That means no matchup between the top 2 teams from the 2015 Women’s NCAA Championships or the top 2 distance freestylers, Leah Smith and Cierra Runge, in the NCAA last season.
Smith, however, will return with the women and men from the University of Virginia. That’ll give the Georgia women a look at a top 5 team from last year’s NCAAs. Last season, Smith posted some of the nation’s top distance freestyle times at the UGA invite.
Also coming to the meet this year will be the men’s and women’s teams from Florida State and Penn State, as well as the Vanderbilt women. PSU topped FSU for 5th last season on both the men’s and women’s sides. Vanderbilt wasn’t at this meet last year, but they’ll add some more SEC competition to the mix this time around.