The 2015 Georgia Fall Invitational kicked off the first final session tonight, featuring the 200 free relay, 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free, women’s one-meter diving, men’s three-meter diving, and 400 medley relay events. The meet is also intended to be a dual meet between Georgia and Auburn.
The Georgia Bulldogs lead the men’s meet after day one, racking up 285.5 points over Auburn’s 261.5 and Cal’s 237. Georgia coach Jack Bauerle summed up the Bulldogs’ performance: “It was a solid first day for us. A meet featuring this level of competition is good for our teams. We saw a lot of positives today and we’re learning a lot about our squads. We just need to keep it up the next two days.”
The Georgia women currently sit in second behind Virginia, who lead them 323 to 254. The Auburn women are close behind in third place with 219 points.
On the dual meet stage, Georgia leads both meets, currently topping Auburn 51-25 on the men’s side and 50-25 on the women’s side.
200 Free Relay
Virginia easily took the women’s 200 free relay with the help of three 21 second splits on the back end, courtesy of Ellen Thomas, Caitlin Cooper, and Courtney Bartholomew, as well as a strong lead off leg from Kasey Schmidt. The Cavaliers finished with a time of 1:28.05. Auburn’s Allyx Purcell split 21.88 as the Tigers swam in to a second place finish in 1:29.45. Olivia Smoliga broke 22 seconds for the second time today, leading off Georgia’s third-place relay with a 21.94.
Auburn put three low-19 splits together with a 20-flat lead off to take the victory in the men’s race. The team of Arthur Mendes, Peter Holoda, Jacob Molacek, and Kyle Darmody raced in to touch at 1:17.54. Their time ties them with Missouri for the current nation runner-up, trailing only Alabama. Florida State, Cal, and Georgia all featured nothing but sub-20 splits to finish in second, third, and fourth.
Leah Smith granted the Cavaliers a victory in the 500, but with a slightly slower finish than this morning. Smith touched in 4:32.36 to hold off Georgia’s Brittany MacLean‘s 4:33.75. MacLean’s teammate Hali Flickinger was close behind in 4:35.01. MacLean and Flickinger’s season bests place them second and third in the nation behind Smith’s swim from this morning. Stephanie Peters of Georgia and Megan Moroney of Virginia were next in line, finishing at 4:41.75 and 4:43.18.
Kevin Litherland showed why he was in the middle lane tonight by winning the 500 in 4:15.10. Litherland’s time places him third nationally, sitting only behind last night’s performances from Texas’s Clark Smith and Townley Haas. Auburn’s Hugo Morris sneakily claimed second place from the outside in 4:17.60. Georgia followed up with Pace Clark and Garrett Powell, who raced in third and fourth. The pair touched in 4:17.82 and 4:20.52.
After a strong prelims performance in the 200 IM, Kaitlyn Jones dropped even more time off her morning swim to achieve a lifetime best of 1:55.11. Jones now ranks third in the country, also breaking her teammate Courtney Bartholomew‘s team record of 1:55.23. Bartholomew simultaneously raced up to fifth in the nation’s rankings with a 1:55.85. Georgia’s Annie Zhu and Emily Cameron followed in 1:56.59 and 1:57.46.
On the men’s side, Josh Prenot stole Ryan Harty’s day-old nation leading swim with a time of 1:43.13. He was followed closely by the Georgia IM duo of Gunnar Bentz and Ty Stewart, who touched in 1:43.28 and 1:43.57. The Cal contingent of Ryan Murphy and Andrew Seliskar were also in the mix, racing in not far behind the leaders. The pair finished fourth and fifth at 1:43.72 and 1:43.80.
After putting up a nation-leading swim this morning, Olivia Smoliga capped off her hat trick of 21’s with a 21.86 in the individual 50 free. Caitlin Cooper and Ellen Thomas nabbed major points with a second and a fourth place finish, touching at 22.18 and 22.37. Between them was Auburn’s Ashton Ellzey with a time of 22.23.
Despite the strong Auburn presence, Georgia’s Michael Trice claimed gold in the men’s event, touching in 19.31 to win comfortably over Florida State’s Jason McCormick (19.64). Auburn followed up with the trio of Peter Holoda (19.78), Arthur Mendes (19.88), and Kyle Darmody (19.89). Trice’s lifetime best bumps him up to fourth in the nation’s rankings.
Virginia’s Rebecca Corbett, Auburn’s Madeline Cox, and Georgia’s Olivia Ball battled it out in the women’s one-meter diving event, but it was Corbett that came away victorious. Corbett won with a score of 266.55 over Cox’s 263.75 and Ball’s 261.20.
Georgia’s Ian Forlini stretched out to a lead that earned him the victory in the men’s three meter diving event, finishing with a score of 378.95. Florida’s Tyler Roberge and Justin Youtsey were close in tow, completing the event with scores of 366.05 and 355.65.
400 Medley Relay
Courtney Bartholomew was the star of two nation-leading times in a single race tonight, claiming the 100 back slot by nearly a second to lead off Virginia’s winning 400 medley relay. Her split of 50.69 boosted the relay to a comfortable victory of 3:28.58. She was aided by strong splits from Laura Simon (58.97), Kaitlyn Jones (50.81), and Ellen Thomas (48.11). Georgia finished nearly five seconds back in 3:33.30, capped off by a strong 48.01 freestyle split from Olivia Smoliga. Auburn touched third in 3:34.47.
Barring other results from this weekend, Cal’s star-studded medley relay will own the top time in the country by a second and a half after their performance tonight. The team of Ryan Murphy, Josh Prenot, Justin Lynch, and Long Gutierrez finished with a time of 3:04.88. Their combined time would have been fourth at NCAA’s last year, and Murphy’s nation-leading backstroke split of 44.78 would have tied David Nolan for second at NCAA’s, coming in behind only himself. Georgia and Auburn followed in 3:07.73 and 3:09.08. Notably, Peter Holoda anchored Auburn’s relay in 41.84 to close a second and a half gap on both Virginia and Florida State.