GEORGIA V. TENNESSEE
- January 23, 2021
- Knoxville, TN
- Short course yards (SCY)
Both meets today came down to the wire in Knoxville, though the men’s competition came within a single point on the final relay.
- Tennessee 164, Georgia 136
- Notable absences
- UGA: Gabi Fa’amausili
- UT: Alexis Yager, Megan Sichterman, Jasmine Rumley (has not raced this season)
After Georgia broke the meet record in the 200 medley relay with a win at 1:38.16, Tennessee snapped back with East Carolina transfer Kristen Stege in the 1000 free. Stege, a sprinter in high school who broke the AAC conference record last season at ECU in her first-ever mile, clocked a 9:40.84 to out-duel All-American Courtney Harnish (9:45.89). Next year, it might be Kristen’s sister Rachel Stege clashing with her in the distance events; Rachel is an incoming freshman at UGA.
Harnish was untouchable in the 200 free, though, blasting a 1:46.06 with just about ten minutes after her 1000. Georgia kept rolling: Portia Brown took the 100 back (53.65), then Zoie Hartman knocked off UT freshman star Mona McSharry (#2 in the 100 breast this season nationally) in the 100 breast, 59.58 to 59.69. Hartman’s season best (58.34) sits at #3 behind McSharry’s (58.28). In the 200 fly, Dakota Luther clocked a 1:56.84 to take the win, before Tennessee was back on top as Natalie Ungaretti denied UGA freshman Maxine Parker at the wall, 22.61 to 22.64 in the 50 free.
After Ana Celaya-Hernandez led a big 1-2-3 for UT on the 3-meter, Parker picked up the win in the 100 free (49.13) for the Bulldogs. That was the start of another UGA run with the same players: Brown added a 200 back win (1:56.42), Hartman got by McSharry in the 200 breast by .30 (2:09.56) and Harnish edged Stege in the 500 free, 4:44.05 to 4:44.87.
As the meet went on, each event became make-or-break. In the 100 fly, UT’s Trude Rothrock posted a 53.16, coming back hard on UGA’s Tatum Smith (53.26). The Lady Vols had a key finish in diving, as Grace Cable led another 1-2-3, this time on the 3-meter.
In the 200 IM, UT’s Danika Katzer nearly unearthed a lifetime best, going 1:58.51 for a huge upset on UGA’s Hartman (1:58.72). Hartman was the 2020 SEC runner-up in this event and is ranked #2 nationally with her 1:54.35 from the Georgia Invitational in the fall. That 200 IM clinched the meet for UT.
UT brought it home on the 400 free relay, edging UGA 3:18.02 to 3:18.80 to capture the win.
- Georgia 150.5, Tennessee 149.5
- Notable absences
- UGA: Luca Urlando
While this meet was extremely tight at the end, Tennessee blew out Georgia on the opening 200 medley by two full seconds, 1:25.22 to 1:27.22. Michael Houlie had a 23.39 breast leg for UT, followed by a 20.52 fly from Kayky Mota and a 19.03 anchor from Scott Scanlon. On UGA’s A relay, Javier Acevedo had the best lead-off (21.83).
The biggest (and possibly only) absense from either team was star UGA freshman Luca Urlando, who leads the Bulldogs in the 100 free, 200 free and 200 fly this year.
Greg Reed got UGA into the win column next in the 1000, posting a big 8:57.55 with teammate Andrew Abruzzo in tow (9:00.96). Jake Magahey, UGA freshman, won a tight one over UT’s Seth Bailey in the 200 free, 1:35.65 to 1:35.96. The Bulldogs then opened up a big lead after the 100 back, nabbing a 1-2-3 sweep. Acevedo was 47.29 atop the sweep, and freshman Wesley Ng clocked a lifetime best 47.95 in second ahead of Ian Grum (47.96).
Houlie was a dominant force in the 100 breast, though, as UT answered back with a 1-2-3-4 sweep. Houlie was 52.13. The Vols clawed back before the first diving break, as Mota won the 200 fly (1:44.34) and Scanlon secured the 50 free with the only sub-20 showing (19.78).
Georgia wrestled back for control, as Zach Allen won the 1-meter and Acevedo had a heroic finish in the 100 free. Going 44.02 ahead of UT’s Bailey (44.11) and Nolan Briggs (44.12), Acevedo nearly negative split his swim (21.8/22.2) as he was the only closer under 11 seconds on the final 25 (10.91). Grum and co. crashed the 200 back standings, going 1:44.28 with Keegan Walsh (1:45.17), Bradley Dunham (1:46.08) and Charlie Logan (1:46.32) not far behind.
Despite Houlie scratching the 200 breast, the Vols still went 1-2-3 in the event, led by ECU transfer Lyubomir Epitropov (1:56.85).
Magahey returned after his 200 free with a 4:20.58 in a UGA 1-2-3, before Mota replied with a 46.28 in the 100 fly. Tennessee pushed even further with a 1-2 finish in the 3-meter by Matt Wade and Bryden Hattie, and the 200 IM came down to a scramble finish. The Vols won again, as Jordan Tiffany was 1:47.99, beating out Abruzzo (1:48.35) and Grum (1:48.38).
Acevedo scratched that 200 IM, an event he probably would’ve won, but he slotted in the UGA A 400 free relay lead-off leg. Acevedo was 44.23, and UGA got a 43.71 from Zach Hils, a 43.36 from Magahey and a 44.13 from Dillon Downing to turn in a winning time of 2:55.43.
It wouldn’t have been enough to win, but Tennessee’s A relay wound up getting called for an early take-off. Houlie’s 46.54 third leg (right after the 200 IM) kept the A leg from challenging for the win, but their B relay beat UGA’s B, so UT would’ve won the meet if they hadn’t DQ’d even though they would’ve been second in the relay. The relay was wild; not counting the DQ’d Tennessee A relay, 15 different men (from both teams) split 44 or better.