Auburn Extends Lead At NCAA Championships

Auburn opened up its lead in Friday night's session at the 2004 Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Long Island, N.Y.–The Auburn men's swimming and diving team took another huge step towards a repeat national championship with a solid Friday of competition at the NCAA Championships. On the strength of another world record time, this time in the 200M Medley Relay, the Tigers extended their lead over second-place Stanford to nearly 200 points heading into Saturday's final day of competition.

After two days Auburn has 435 points while Stanford is second with 248.5. Texas is just behind the Cardinal at 246 while Arizona is the only other school to top the 200-point mark at 225. Michigan, Florida, California, Tennessee, Northwestern and Minnesota round out the top-10.

After the first event, Auburn laid claim to yet another event where they are the fastest ever after the Doug Van Wie, Mark Gangloff, Fred Bousquet and Derek Gibb splashed to a 1:34.25 in the 200-meter medley relay. The time, though not a world record because of the difference in native countries of the four, is faster than the world record mark of 1:34.46 set by Germany in 2003.

"With Doug Van Wie leading off the 50 back for the first time, you couldn't have asked for a better start," Bousquet said. "He got everything done to put us in a good spot."

VanWie led off the relay with a 24.24 backstroke split, which placed the Tigers in third behind Stanford and California. Gangloff then raced out to a 26.34 breaststroke split, the fastest in the field by a quarter of a second, moving AU to the front of the field. Bousquet took the fly leg in a time of 22.73 before handing off to Gibb, who blazed to a 20.94, giving the Tigers the title by .28 seconds.

Pulling the double once again, Bousquet placed sixth in the 100-meter butterfly just two events after being a part of the 200 medley relay. Bryce Hunt's time of 51.87 placed him fourth while Bousquet clocked 52.11. Both places were the highest finishes of each of their careers in the event.

Swimming in his first event of a two-event night, George Bovell finished third in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:45.13, which was nine-hundredths of a second behind winner Jayme Cramer of Stanford (1:45.04). Joining Bovell in the championship finals was junior BJ Jones, who seventh-place finish (1:46.72) matched his awards podium position from the 400-meter freestyle on Thursday night.

Gangloff also pulled a double on Friday night as he posted a runner-up finish in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 58.78 three events after his relay duties. The placing was the highest of his career for Gangloff, who had never placed higher than sixth in three previous tries. Brendan Hansen of Texas won the event for the fourth straight season.

"Coming off the (200 medley) relay I was pretty excited after winning the event," Gangloff said. "I wanted to give myself an opportunity to beat Brendan, but it didn't turn out that way. To get second is very rewarding."

Mark Gangloff swims to a runner-up finish in the 100-meter breaststroke.

A trio of Tigers doubled-up with the 100-meter backstroke. Van Wie (52.50) and Gibb (53.49) rounded out the 200 medley relay doubles as the pair finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Hunt joined the two in the 100 back double as the sixth-place finisher from the 100 fly finished 10th in a time of 52.62. Chad Barlow was 15th in a time of 53.37.

Caesar Garcia tied his highest placing on the 3-meter at NCAA Championships as the senior scored a 609.40 to place fifth, missing the school record by less than five points. Joining him on the podium was Matt Bricker, who finaled on the 3-meter for the first time of his career with an eighth-place finish (574.90).

"We had a much better day today than yesterday," AU Diving Coach Jeff Shaffer said. "I thought that Caesar did a great job but he was a little upset because he didn't get the school record. As everybody knows, as a team, we get better as we go higher, which is good heading into tomorrow."

The diving trio established a new standard for the diving program when Steven Segerlin placed 11th with a score of 532.05 during prelims. His placing ensured that the Tigers would receive points from three different divers at a single meet, a first for the program.

Eric Shanteau brought home the highest finish of his career at NCAAs when the sophomore clocked a 4:09.66 to place fourth in the 400-meter individual medley. Jeremy Knowles also raced in the nighttime finals, placing 13th with a time of 4:15.08.

The Tigers closed out the meet with a fourth-place finish in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Bovell led off with a 1:44.81, which was faster than both his and the winning time from the 200 freestyle earlier in the night. Jones, swimming for the second time on the evening, took the second leg and registered a 1:46.13. Van Wie then plunged back in for the third time on the night and clocked a 1:48.30 before handing off to Hunt's third swim of the night, which was a 1:48.05.

"If we can have a strong 200 back and 100 free (tomorrow), we can shut the door on this meet," AU Coach David Marsh said. "We don't want to take anything for granted. Last year on the fifth session we fell pretty flat. The challenge for our team tomorrow is to have a strong preliminary session."

Auburn's 435 points is 14-points less than they had at last season's championships, when they topped the 600-point barrier, but the margin of AU's lead, 186.5, is 19.5 points bigger than at the same point last season.

The Tigers will try to slam the door shut on their competition during Saturday's prelims. Events to be contested are the 200-meter backstroke, the 100-meter freestyle, the 200-meter breaststroke, the 200-meter butterfly, the 400-meter freestyle relay, the 1500-meter freestyle and the platform.

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