The first final session of the 2021 Tennessee Invite gets underway this evening with timed finals of the 200 free and 400 medley relays, as well as finals of the individual 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free. This morning, Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia evenly split the top seeds, with each school coming away with two top times.
2021 NCAA CUT LINES
Women’s 200 Free Relay – Timed Final
- Alabama – 1:26.38
- Virginia – 1:26.61
- Tennessee – 1:28.19
The Alabama women fired off of a notable opening salvo to get tonight’s session going, blasting a 1:26.38 to give them what appears to be the top time in the nation so far this season. Kalia Antoniou led off in 21.79, then Morgan Scott scorched a 21.26 split, followed by freshman Kailyn Winter (21.92), and Cora Dupre (21.41). That also appears to be a new school record for the Crimson Tide, toppling the previous record of 1:27.02 from 2020.
UVA took 2nd in 1:26.61. Kate Douglass nearly had the fastest overall split in the field with a 21.27 leadoff, quicker than most of the flying splits. Lexi Cuomo followed with a 21.70, Reilly Tiltmann split 22.05, and Alex Walsh brought it home in 21.59 for a 1:26.61. The Cavaliers are without sprinter Gretchen Walsh, who is out of the meet for undisclosed reasons. That potentially sets up even more drama come March, when these two teams should go to head to head again at NCAAs.
Tennessee finished 3rd in 1:28.19, under the NCAA ‘A’ cut, while Arkansas was under the NCAA ‘B’ cut with a 1:28.50.
Men’s 200 Free Relay – Timed Final
- Virginia – 1:17.67
- Tennessee – 1:17.80
- Alabama – 1:18.04
It was another close race on the men’s side, with only 0.13s separating the top two teams, and the third team only another 0.24s behind. UVA got win, thanks to a 19.02 anchor leg from Matt King. Freshman Jack Aikins led off in 20.04, followed by August Lamb (19.07), Justin Grender (19.54), and King, who touched in 1:17.64. The UVA men were also missing a notable leg, this time, Matt Brownstead.
Tennessee was ahead after a 19.55 leadoff by freshman Jordan Crooks. Micah Chambers (19.46) and Nolan Briggs (19.43) held on to the lead; Scott Scanlon‘s 19.36 anchor leg was the fastest by a Volunteer, but wasn’t quite enough to hold off King, and Tennessee touched in 1:17.80, matching the NCAA ‘B’ cut.
Women’s 500 Free – Finals
- Kensey McMahon (Alabama) – 4:38.76
- Julia Mrozinski (Tennessee) – 4:38.82
- Emma Weyant (Virginia) – 4:38.90
Wowzers. You normally don’t see a 500 that’s as tight as this one, but the top three swimmers all finished within 0.14s of each other, and 4th place was only another 0.13s behind.
Alabama’s Kensey McMahon took the lead relatively early and held on to win in 4:38.76. Tennessee’s Julia Mrozinski stormed home in 26.21, over a second faster than McMahon’s final split, but that wasn’t enough to earn the win, as the Volunteer finished 2nd in 4:38.82. It was enough to get her past UVA’s Emma Weyant (4:38.90) and Ella Nelson (4:39.03).
A total of 8 swimmers were under last season’s NCAA invite time of 4:44.77, including Kristen Stege (4:40.62), Maddie Donohoe (4:41.54), Aly Breslin (4:42.91), and Mela Delmenico (4:44.02).
Men’s 500 Free – Finals
- Rafael Ponce de Leon (Tennessee) – 4:17.10
- Charlie Hawke (Alabama) – 4:18.03
- Christopher Mykkanen (UNLV) – 4:19.62
While 8 swimmers finished under last year’s qualifying time in the women’s 500, exactly zero did on the men’s side. Tennessee’s Rafael Ponce de Leon came the closest, winning with a 4:17.10 that was only 0.35s time of what it took to earn a NCAA invite last season. Alabama ‘s Charlie Hawke was 2nd in 4:18.03, while Christopher Mykkanen got UNLV on the podium with a 4:19.62 effort for 3rd.
Women’s 200 IM – Finals
- Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 1:52.21
- Ellen Walsh (Tennessee) – 1:54.77
- Alexis Yager (Tennessee) – 1:56.38
No surprise here, as Kate Douglass, an Olympic medalist, and one of the fastest women ever in this event, got the win with a 1:52.21, well under the NCAA ‘A’ cut. The Volunteers swept the next two spots, with Ellen Walsh touching in 1:54.77 and Alexis Yager in 1:58.38. UVA’s Ella Bathurst (1:57.12) and Tennessee’s Sara Stotler (1:57.27) were both under last year’s invite time, while Alabama’s Avery Wiseman (1:57.68) was just over that mark of 1:57.67.
This was a youth-centric event, as all of the aforementioned-women except Douglass and Yager are freshmen.
Men’s 200 IM – Finals
- Derek Maas (Alabama) – 1:43.49
- Matthew Menke (Alabama) – 1:44.42
- Sean Conway (Virginia) – 1:45.39
The Crimson Tide rolled in this event, taking 4 of the top 5 spots. Derek Maas won with a 1:43.49 after going 1:43.12 in prelims, again eclipsing the 2021 NCAA cut time of 1:44.15. Maas’ teammate Matthew Menke wasn’t too far off of that mark, taking 2nd in 1:44.42.
UVA’s Sean Conway broke up the ‘Bama bulwark with a time of 1:45.39, followed by Alabama’s Linus Kahl (1:45.45) and Nicholas Perera (1:45.67).
Notable, South Carolina freshman Patrick Groters had the 2nd-fastest overall time, courtesy of a 1:44.02 to win the B-final.
Women’s 50 Free – Finals
There were two big groups here, as the top three women all finished within less than a tenth of a second of each other, then the there five all touched within 0.18s of each other.
There was a 0.36s gap between that group and the second one. Tennessee’s Mona McSharry finished 4th in 22.25, with teammate Jasmine Rumley just behind at 22.31, also under last year’s NCAA invite time of 22.31.
Men’s 50 Free – Finals
Tennessee picked up another win, courtesy of freshman Jordan Crooks, who outdueled UVA’s Matt King, 19.39 to 19.47. Crooks, a native of the Cayman Islands, only has a handful of swims in yards, all coming in the last two months, so tonight’s time was a new personal best for him by nearly 8/10s of a second.
King actually went 19.39 in prelims, meaning both he and Crooks were under last season’s invite time of 19.46. Volunteer Nolan Briggs took 3rd in 19.58.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay – Timed Finals
- Virginia – 3:27.12
- Alabama – 3:27.18
- Tennessee – 3:28.91
Any watching were treated to another close race, as Alabama nearly ran down Virginia for the win. Alabama took an early lead when Olympian Rhyan White out split UVA’s Reilly Tiltmann on the leadoff, 50.15 to 51.85. UVA regained the lead after a 57.75 breast split by Alexis Wenger and a 50.19 fly split from Kate Douglass. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Avery Wiseman went 58.66 on breast and Morgan Scott went 51.60 on fly. UVA had a 0.62s lead heading into the final leg. Alabama’s Kalia Antoniou did her best with a blazing 46.77 anchor leg, but Alex Walsh‘s 47.33 was enough to secure the win for UVA, 3:27.12 to 3:27.18. Alabama did set a new school record, improving on their previous best of 3:28.90.
Tennessee was also under the NCAA ‘A’ cut, going 3:28.91 thanks to Mona McSharry’s 57.21 breast leg, the fastest split in the field.
Men’s 400 Medley Relay – Timed Finals
- Alabama – 3:04.36
- Virginia – 3:08.21
- UNLV – 3:08.46
The Crimson Tide men ran away with this one, knocking out a 3:04.36 that won by nearly four seconds and was well under the NCAA ‘A’ cut. Matthew Menke led off in 45.59, Derek Maas split a very fast 50.79 on breast, freshman Bernardo Bondra split 45.68 on fly, and Jonathan Berneburg anchored in 42.30. Berneburg cut it close, as the live results showed a reaction time of -0.01s, but there was no DQ, and Alabama touched in 3:04.36, a very strong effort at this point in the season.
UVA took 2nd in 3:08.21, followed by UNLV at 3:08.46.