This morning marked the beginning of the 2015 Georgia Fall Invitational. The session saw three individual events: the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free.
Returning NCAA champion Leah Smith of Virginia took no prisoners this morning as she kicked off the meet with a top time of 4:30.85. Not only does that lead the country by six and a half seconds (over Georgia’s Hali Flickinger, whose 4:37.23 this morning now sits second), but it’s over a half second faster than her NCAA-winning time from last year.
The time by Smith, in fact, is the 7th-fastest 500 yard free ever swum by a woman. Of the six swims in front of her, 5 were done by Katie Ledecky, and the 6th was Smith’s prelims swim from NCAA’s last season.
Georgia qualified two more A finalists in Brittany MacLean and Stephanie Peters, who placed third and seventh. MacLean also cracked the 4:40 barrier, touching in 4:39.02. Virginia teammates Hanne Borgersen and Megan Moroney rank fourth and fifth going into tonight, while Auburn’s Ashley Neidigh and Penn State’s Casey Francis round out the A final. Francis qualified eighth with a time of 4:43.87.
Georgia took the top seed at home in the 500 with Kevin Litherland, who clocked in at 4:18.64. The Bulldogs also placed Garrett Powell and Pace Clark in the A final, positioned in third and sixth. Cal also squeezed in two courtesy of Ryan Kao and Nick Norman, who sit fourth and fifth. Sam Magnan of Virginia touched just slower than Litherland at 4:19.70 while his teammate Austin Quinn qualified seventh. The A final will be rounded out by Auburn’s Hugo Morris who squeezed in eighth with a 4:23.08.
Virginia qualified first and second heading into finals tonight with Kaitlyn Jones and Courtney Bartholomew. The pair touched in 1:55.65 and 1:56.05 with Georgia’s Emily Cameron nabbing the third spot in 1:56.91. The Cavaliers and the Bulldogs also claimed the fourth and fifth spots through Jen Marrkand and Annie Zhu. Penn State’s Katie Rowe, Auburn’s Bailey Nero, and Georgia’s Kylie Stewart placed sixth, seventh, and eighth this morning. Stewart qualified in 1:58.99.
Cal standout Josh Prenot topped the field in the 200 IM with a time of 1:44.07. Prenot now ties Louisville’s Nolan Tesone as nation leader in the event barring other results from this weekend. Georgia’s Ty Stewart and Cal freshman Andrew Seliskar were hot on his heels, qualifying second and third in 1:44.50 and 1:44.57. Georgia added more talent to the final through Jay Litherland and Gunnar Bentz, who sit at fourth and fifth. The remainder of the A final will consist of Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt and Joe Patching, as well as Cal’s Ryan Murphy. Patching ranks eighth with a time of 1:45.36.
Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga became the fourth woman in the country to crack 22 seconds in the 50 this morning by qualifying first in 21.82. She lead a tight race between Auburn’s Ashton Ellzey and Virginia’s Ellen Thomas, with Ellzey claiming the second slot in 22.20. Thomas’s teammates Caitlin Cooper and Kasey Schmidt were hot on her heels in fourth and fifth. Auburn’s Allyx Purcell and Alyssa Tetzloff nabbed the sixth and seventh spots to give the Tigers three finalists while Virginia’s Shannon Rauth capped off the A final in 22.77.
Every single A finalist in the men’s 50 was under 20 this morning with Florida State’s Jason McCormick leading the way at 19.63. Georgia’s Michael Trice and Auburn’s Peter Holoda came out of the fray second and third in 19.65 and 19.71. The Tigers scored an additional two A finalists in Kyle Darmody and Arthur Mendes while the Cal Bears claimed two spots of their own through Long Gutierrez and Justin Lynch. Virginia’s Matt Lockman was the last of the sub-20s, closing off the A final in 19.97.