2018 BULLDOG LAST CHANCE MEET
- February 24th-25th, 2018
- Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia
- 25y (SCY) Course
- Live results
Georgia senior Gunnar Bentz entered the season as a favorite to win an NCAA title, especially the 400 IM, in March. After breaking his collarbone early in the season, though, he began competition only in the spring semester, and while he swam well at the SEC Championships, it wasn’t quite enough to earn him an NCAA qualification time.
He stamped his invite in stone on Sunday, though, in his only swim of the Bulldog Last Chance Meet, when he swam a 1:40.97 in a 200 fly time trial. That improved a 1:42.51 that he swam in a February dual meet against Emory (and a 1:43.07 at SECs). The 1:42.51 was in a ‘bubble’ position for an invite with the Pac-12 men’s championship yet to come next weekend, but his new time is an Automatic Qualifying Time, guaranteeing his opportunity to swim the 200 IM individually, as well as the 200 and 400 IM where he also has “B” cuts (the 100 fly would be an option too, though an unlikely one). He now ranks 8th nationally in the 200 fly.
He was one of a number of Bulldogs trying to cement their qualification on Sunday. Powell Brooks swam a :14.2.87 in the 200 fly, which leaves him in a precarious 30th place nationally in the event, which is unlikely to earn an NCAA invite. He opted to scratch the final rather than shoot for a drop (he would’ve needed to take off around 4-tenths to really feel comfortable heading into next weekend).
Freshman Greg Reed is in slightly better position: he knocked 2 seconds from his season best in the 1650 free to finish in 14:54.20. That time would’ve been under the invite line by two-and-a-half seconds last season, but this year it’s right on the edge. There are 4 swimmers from the Pac-12 with season-bests between 14:55 and 15:00, and if more than 2 of those swimmers jump Reed, he’ll probably be out, with around 29 men usually invited per event.
One swimmer who left no doubt for the Bulldogs on Sunday is sophomore Walker Higgins. He swam a 4:14.69 in the 500 free, which jumps him into 13th in the latest rankings and that will assuredly be enough to earn an NCAA invite. His teammates Kevin Litherland (4:16.14 – 27th) and Tal Davis (4:16.71) are probably out. Litherland’s 27th would be in if the season ended right now, but with 5 Pac-12 swimmers already having regular season times between 4:16.2 and 4:16.8, his time and ranking will have a target.
Youssef Said is another swimmer teetering. His 46.13 in the 100 back final on Sunday improved his season-best from 46.80 and ranks him 28th in the country. While his time is .15 inside of what it took to get invited last year, this season it could take a 46.0 to earn a spot in Minneapolis.
Other Significant Swims:
- Auburn’s Luis Martinez swam a 45.72 in a 100 fly time trial. That improved upon his 45.91 from Saturday’s event final, and jumps him from 23rd in the country to 16th, which will lock in his NCAA Invite.
- His teammate Tommy Brewer made a similar move. After a 52.71 that moved him up quite-a-few-spots in the national rankings on Saturday to 21st, Sunday’s small improvement moved him to 18th and a near-lock for an NCAA Invite.
- Auburn freshman Carly Cummings swam a 2:10.00 in the 200 breaststroke final. That would’ve been in, easily, last year, but everything has gotten much faster this year. It currently ranks her 36th, and with Sunday being the last day for women’s qualifications, that should be good enough for an NCAA Invite.
- Hawaii had two near-misses on Sunday. Lucia Lassman swam a 52.53 in a 100 fly time trial, which is .01 slower than it took to qualify last year, but this year ranks her 46th, and barring a lot of unexpected scratches in the event, out of an invite. The Hawaii men’s 400 medley relay took 3 cracks at a Qualifying Standard on Sunday, and their best of those 3 efforts, a 3:07.51 in the official event final, is .05 seconds short of an NCAA Qualification Time. The Hawaii men have individual storke qualifiers in the 100 back and 100 breast, and a top-50-ish in the nation butterflier, but without any swimmers who even have “B” cuts in the 100 free this season, they didn’t quite have the anchor leg to ensure their relay invites.