Mason Mathias Breaks Zane Grothe’s Auburn Record; Bama Women Secure Win On Final Relay

by Robert Gibbs 1

January 21st, 2023 College, News, Previews & Recaps

Auburn vs. Alabama

  • January 20, 2023
  • Martin Aquatics Center, Auburn, AL
  • SCY
  • Dual meet format
  • Full Results
  • Scores
    • Women: Alabama 155, Auburn 145
    • Men: Auburn 184, Alabama 116

The Alabama Crimson Tide made the cross-state trek yesterday to take on Auburn in the Tigers’ home pool. Besides the intrinsic drama as the annual meeting between the two rivals, the meet also served as senior day for Auburn, and both teams appeared to don tech suits for the meet.

Compared to our most recent round of power rankings (which admittedly skew more towards NCAA projections), the results were a bit unexpected. The #15 Auburn men beat #14 Alabama by a 68-point margin and set a school record in the process, while the #5 Alabama women only held off the #22 Tigers by ten points.

Women’s Recap

The intrastate rivals duked it out all day on the women’s side in a narrow contest that came down to the final relay, and the Crimson Tide ultimately won by just 10 points over the Tigers.

If you were to just look at event winners, you might be surprised that the team standings were as close as they were throughout the whole meet.

The Crimson Tide started the day strong with a 1:35.80 win in the 200 medley relay, less than a second shy of their time from the Art Adamson Invite at midseason.

From there, Kensey McMahon won the first individual win of the meet with a 9:34.36 in the 1000 free, winning by over seven seconds over Auburn’s Emily Hetzer (9:41.95). McMahon also won the 500 free later in the meet, and again, it was Hetzer in 2nd as McMahon won 4:41.82 to 4:44.57.

Rhyan White was Alabama’s next individual event winner, and the Tokyo Olympian actually tripled for the Crimson Tide, piling up big points. She first won the 100 back in 51.29, less than half a second off her season-best of 50.84. Next she won the 20 back in 1:52.24, less than a second off of her time from Art Adamson. She wrapped up her individual competition with a 51.79 win in the 100 fly, actually a bit faster than her midseason time.

Alabama also got a double from sprinter Kalia Antoniou, who swept the shortest freestyle events with times of 21.94 and 48.11. Avery Wiseman won the 200 breast in 2:09.09, Ryleigh Rodgers won the 1m diving event with a score of 264.60, and Cat Wright took the 200 IM in 1:57.08.

Auburn only had a handful of wins, but they did a masterful job of keeping the score close by racking up points even in the events Alabama won. Nine times the Tigers finished 2nd and 3rd after Alabama took 1st, and they finished 2nd-4th in five Alabama wins, meaning Alabama only came out with one more point than Auburn in each of those events.

In the meantime, the Tigers accumulated four individual victories. Polina Nevmovenko, a transfer from Louisville, took the 200 free in 1:46.21. That’s actually a hair faster than her previous best time of 1:46.23, from last year’s ACC Championships.

Stasya Makarova came out on top for the Tigers in the 100 breast in a narrow win, touching in 59.88 over Alabama’s Cat Wright, 59.88 to 59.92. Three more Alabama swimmers finished within half a second of the top two women. Meghan Lee won the 200 fly in 1:56.48, leading a 1-4 sweep for Auburn (although under dual meet scoring, only the top three finishers from a time count towards the score), and Ashlynn Sullivan won the 3m diving event with a score of 287.18.

The Crimson Tide led 144-139 heading into the 400 free relay. Kalia Antoniou, rising to the occasion, got Alabama off to a 48.01 start, a tenth of a second faster than her individual time earlier in the session, while Auburn’s Lexie Mulvihill led off in 49.49.

Emily Jones (49.37) and Gracie Feller (49.26) extended Alabama’s lead, while Auburn got a 49.42 from Emma Steckel, then a 48.43 leg from Polina Nevmovenko, which brought Auburn to within 0.8s of Alabama. While Auburn’s Claudia Thamm slightly outsplit Diana Petkova on the first half of the anchor leg, Petkova put it away on the backhalf, ultimately splitting 48.81 to Thamm’s, 49.42. All told, Alabama touched in 3:15.45 to Auburn’s 3:16.76. Auburn’s ‘B’ team took 3rd in 3:18.94, but Alabama still finished the day with a ten point margin of victory.

Men’s Recap

It wasn’t nearly as close of an affair on the men’s side, as the Tigers won the first event and kept piling up the points from there.

That first event was the 200 medley relay, where Auburn beat Alabama by over a second. Senior Aidan Stoffle led off in 21.15, Reid Mikuta split 23.13 on breast, Nate Stoffle went 20.31 on fly, and freshman Kalle Makinen anchored in 19.11. Over the last few weeks we’re starting to become increasingly accustomed to seeing incredibly fast dual meet swims, so it’s good to remember that it was only last year we saw teams start going under 1:24 in this event in-season.

Auburn kept the momentum going with a win in the first individual event of the session, this time in record-setting fashion. Sophomore Mason Mathias, an Alabama native, passed Alabama’s Victor Johansson around the halfway mark of the 1000 free, and continued to extend his lead from there, ultimately winning in 8:51.45 to Johannson’s 8:57.52.

Mathias’ time was a new personal best, eclipsing the 8:59.32 he went as part of a 14:55.62 mark in the 1650 at last fall’s Georgia Invite. That also set a new Auburn school record, taking down the previous mark of 8:52.58 set by distance star Zane Grothe back in 2012. Grothe was present at the meet, and apparently even served as Mathias’ lap counter, then congratulated Mathias on breaking the record.

The Tigers continued to widen the scoring margin with a balanced attack. Diver Conner Pruitt had a big contribution with wins in the 1m (373.20) and the 3m (387.68), but no Auburn swimmer won more than a single event.

Nate Stoffle won the 100 back in 45.81, finishing just ahead of his brother, Aidan Stoffle, who took 2nd in 46.00 and would go on to the win the 100 fly in 46.75 towards the endow the day.

Reid Mikuta, who’s been one of the top breaststrokers in the NCAA this season, took the 100 breast in 51.55, finishing just ahead of Alabama’s Derek Maas (51.74).

Likewise, Kalle Makinen came up on the right side of a close touch in the 50 free, beating Alabama’s Charlie Hawke 19.73 to 19.79.

Auburn also got victories from Evan McInerny in the 200 fly (1:44.78) and Andrew Simmons in the 200 back (1:42.15).

The aforementioned Hawke had a big day for the Crimson Tide. He also won the 200 free in a strong 1:32.61 and then the 500 free in 4:16.68. Derek Maas also doubled, winning the 200 breast in 1:54.93 and the 200 IM in 1:45.75.

Alabama’s only other individual win came in the 100 free, where Kaique Alves stopped the clock in 43.11, just ahead of Auburn’s Makinen (43.16) and Christian Sztolcman (43.22).

While the 400 free wouldn’t determine the outcome of the men’s day, it was still an incredibly close and fun race with bragging rights on the line.

The rangy Hawke got the Crimson Tide out to a strong lead early on with a 42.53, a time which would’ve easily won the individual 100 free. Makinen got Auburn going with a 43.25, just off of his individual time earlier in the session.

On the second leg, Alabama’s Alves (42.63) and Auburn’s Logan Tirheimer (42.66) had nearly identical splits, meaning that Alabama had just over a half second lead at the halfway point. Aidan Stoffle closed the gap on the third leg, splitting 43.11 to Tim Korstanje‘s 43.56, putting Auburn within 0.30s with just the anchor leg to go.

Sztolcman did his best for the Tigers, nearly catching Alabama anchor Matthew Menke at the 350 point. But Menke just managed to hold the lead, touching in 2:51.56 to Auburn’s 2:51.64 and putting the bow on an exciting day of racing in Auburn.

Alabama Release

AUBURN, Ala. – Alabama swimming and diving traveled to Auburn for its final dual meet of the 2022-23 season on Friday. The No. 6-ranked Alabama women defeated No. 19 Auburn 155-145, while the No.14 Crimson Tide men fell to No. 9 Auburn 184-116. The women’s squad won 10 individual events and both relays while the men won the final relay and five individual events.

No. 6 Alabama Women’s Highlights

  • Rhyan White, Avery Wiseman, Emily Jones and Kalia Antoniou (1:35.80) opened the meet with a win in the women’s 200-yard medley relay
  • Kensey McMahon picked up the first individual win of the meet for UA in the women’s 1,000 freestyle, touching first in 9:34.36
  • McMahon also recorded a win in the women’s 500 freestyle, touching at 4:41.83
  • Rhyan White won the women’s 100 backstroke in 51.29 and 200 backstroke in 1:52.24
  • White earned her third win of the day in the women’s 100 butterfly, finishing at 51.79
  • Kalia Antoniou picked up wins in the women’s 50 freestyle, clocking 21.94 and the 100 freestyle with a time of 48.11
  • Avery Wiseman, Cat Wright and Jocelyn Fisher finished one-two-three in the women’s 200 breaststroke with times of 2:09.09, 2:09.63 and 2:10.12, respectively
  • Wright earned her first individual win of the season in the women’s 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57.08
  • Diver Ryleigh Rodgers took first in the women’s 1-meter with a score of 264.60
  • Kalia Antoniou, Emily Jones, Gracie Felner and Diana Petkova closed the meet for the women’s squad, winning the 400-freestyle relay in 3:15.45

No. 14 Alabama Men’s Highlights

  • Charlie Hawke and Kaique Alves recorded a one-two finish in the men’s 200 freestyle, clocking times of 1:32.61 and 1:34.23, respectively
  • Alves also earned a win in the men’s 100 freestyle with a 43.11 finish
  • Derek Maas placed first in the men’s 200 breaststroke, touching at 1:54.93
  • Maas also took first in the men’s 200 individual medley, finishing at 1:45.75
  • Hawke picked up his second win of the day in the men’s 500 freestyle, finishing in 4:16.68
  • Hawke, Alves, Tim Korstanje and Matt Menke capped off the meet with a win in the 400-freestyle relay

Up Next

  • Alabama swimming and diving will return to Auburn for the Auburn Invite, Feb. 3-4
  • It will be Alabama’s last competition before the SEC Championships

Auburn Release

AUBURN, Ala.  – Head coach Ryan Wochomurka and the Tigers had James E. Martin Aquatic Center rocking from start to finish on Friday. A record-breaking performance capped off the third top-25 dual win for the men while the women left it all in the pool against a top-10 opponent.

#9 Auburn 184, #15 Alabama, 116
#8 Alabama 155, #13 Auburn 145

The Auburn women kicked off Friday afternoon with a solid effort in the 200 medley relay. Ellie Waldrep, Anastasia Makarova, Claudia Thamm and Lexie Mulvihill hit the wall second. Meanwhile, Meghan Lee, Hannah Ownbey, Abby Gibbons and Emma Steckiel were close behind in third to grab important points.

Auburn’s distance group has been grinding it out all season. Emily Hetzer and Averee Preblekept it going in both the 1,000 and 500 free, solidifying second and third in both races.

Polina Nevmovenko put the hammer down in the 200 free. Her 1:46.21 was a personal best in the event. Rebekah Hamilton and Payton Marvin weren’t too far behind, earning the first sweep of the day for the Tigers.

Auburn’s backstroke group rose to the occasion once again on Friday. Ellie Waldrep, Daisy Platts and Kensley Merritt solidified second, third and fourth in 100 back. Later in the evening, it was Platts, Lee and Merritt taking the same spots in the 200.

The Orange and Blue record holder in the 100 breast in Anastasia Makarova didn’t etch her name into history but her fourth win of the year in the event kept Alabama at arm’s length for the time being.

Meghan Lee, however, did have her sights set on a piece of history. Her 1:56.48 in the 200 fly was not only a career-best but is now the tenth-best performance in Auburn history. Casey Cullen and Abby Gibbons grabbed second and third, and Avery Bargeron solidified fourth for good measure as the women locked in their second sweep of the day.

In the 100 fly, it was Claudia Thamm who led the Orange and Blue Charge. Thamm secured second with Avery Bargeron and Abby Gibbons taking third and fourth.

Lexie Mulvihill and Claudia Thamm did the heavy lifting in the springs. The duo went 2-3 in the 50 free. Mulvihill grabbed another second-place finish in the 100 with Nevmovenko and Emma Steckiel touching in at third and fourth.

Hannah Ownbey nearly ran down Alabama’s challenger in the 200 IM. Ownbey and Lee carved out second and third, leaving it all down to the 400 free relay.

Mulvihill, Steckiel, Nevmovenko and Thamm raced until the bitter end. Nevmovenko in particular put up one hell of a leg to chase down the Crimson Tide. However, a second and a third in the event meant Auburn fell just six points short of knocking off Alabama.

Ryan Wochomurka‘s men couldn’t have started any better. The noise from the Orange and Blue Faithfull almost took the house down as Aidan Stoffle, Reid Mikuta, Nate Stoffle and Kalle Makinen dialed up the win in the 200 medley relay.

Keeping the raucous fever going, Mason Mathias dialed up one of the most impressive performances inside James E. Martin Aquatic Center. An 8:51.45 gave the sophomore a school record in the 1,000 free, snatching it from Zane Grothe who was holding his lap counter while he did it.

In the 500, Mathias still paced Auburn, securing second. Teammates Grant Davis and Mikkel Gadgaard rounded out the Tiger’s points with a third a fourth-place finish, respectively.

Brothers Nate Stoffle and Aidan Stoffle were not to be denied in the backstroke. Nate Claimed the 100 back with Aidon close behind in second, marking Nate’s fourth win of the year in the event. In the 200, Andrew Simmons came up with a winning effort while Nate hit the wall second.

No one in the country has touched Reid Mikuta in the 100 breast. The junior still holds the fastest time in the country and the Auburn record. While neither was broken on Friday, his 51.55 was still good enough for the win as the Tiger men extended its lead over the Crimson Tide.

Mikuta put up a good fight in the 200, touching in second place with teammate Jacques Rathle right behind in third.

The meet’s closest race of the evening came in the 200 fly. Evan McInerny came home in a blistering pace to snatch the win. Mason Mathias and Rusty Jerger hit the wall third and fourth, respectively.

Aidan Stoffle picked up his third win of the year in the 100 fl with a 46.75. Nate would finish third.

Freshman Kalle Makinen is starting to round into form with a month to go until the SEC Championships. Makinen captured a win in the 50 free with Logan Tirheimer and Mihalis Deliyiannis securing third and fourth.

Makinen would return in the 100 to snag a second-place finish. Christian Sztolcman would jump into third and Tirheimer in fourth.

Auburn’s trio of Danny Schmidt, Jacques Rathle and Reid Mikuta did well in the 200 IM, notching second through fourth place.

Even though the men had clinched the victory nearly an hour beforehand, Makinen, Tirheimer, Aidan Stoffle and Sztolcman left it all in the pool in the 400 free relay. A solid 2:51.64 was just .08 seconds off Alabama’s pace and sealed another impressive top-15 win for the Tigers.

Ashlynn Sullivan and Abigail Farrar had it rolling on the 3-meter. Sullivan’s 287.18 signaled her second win this season. Farrar was right behind in second with a 267.90.

Sullivan would return in the 1-meter with a second-place finish with Farrar grabbing fourth.

Conner Pruitt was back to his winning ways on the 1-meter. A 373.20  was just three points shy of his season-best but was a victory nonetheless. Whit Andrus’ 357.23 was a season-high and a second-place effort for the sophomore.

Pruitt cannot be stopped on the 3-meter. A 387.68 is far from his personal best but does represent his third win of the season in the event. Walker Creedon and Hunter Keebler made sure to collect a massive haul of points, taking second and third.

Head coach, Ryan Wochomurka
“We fought really well on both sides today. It’s certainly a disappointing outcome on the women’s side but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. It wasn’t a lack of execution. We gave our best and that’s all you can ask for. Excited for our men to pick up a win and I’m excited about where we’re at right now, even a month out from the SEC Championships. We’ll see them again in a month and at the NCAA Championships. I can’t say enough about the incredible environment that was here today. With our fans and students packing the house, that was a great advantage for us.”

On Mason’s record-breaking swim…
“That was awesome. It was a record held by Zane Grothe our volunteer assistant and he was counting laps for him. Zane has done a great job with our distance group, helping them understand how to achieve and push yourself to a different level. Mason’s done a great job of that. He’s really continued to level up and that’s encouraging from him right now.”

Sophomore, Mason Mathias
“I think one of the best things about our team and our culture here is that just aim to have fun. This is what we love to do and we train to race. We’re not here just to train but we’re trying to race and when we get an opportunity to throw down and swim our best events maybe put on some suits, it’s a really exciting time. I love our distance group and I love every time I get on those blocks, knowing I have three or four other guys in the same heat that I know can throw down with me.”

On Zane lap counting for him
“It’s incredible. He was an aerospace engineer major and I am a mechanical engineer. He’s helped me with much more than just swimming. He’s helped me be a true student-athlete. To have him count for me, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He’s had such a great attitude about it as well because he wants us to break it.”






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4 months ago

Wow! That was an amazing dual meet to watch! The stands were jam packed! Both teams tore it up with a lot of close races and extremely fast swims!

The 200 fly was decided by 0.01 seconds! Several other races by less than 0.1 seconds! This is what college swimming is all about!

I predict a great SEC meet coming up for both Auburn and Alabama!


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