Tigers Holding At No. 2 at NCAA Championships

Despite two individual victories in day two, Auburn still is trailing the top-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs.

West LaFayette, Ind.--Despite individual titles from senior stars Margaret Hoelzer and Kirsty Coventry, Auburn lost more ground as Georgia set the stage to end Auburn's streak of consecutive Women's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Georgia has a commanding lead with 422.5 points. Auburn is second at 329.

"Again, really like yesterday, we have a very good day and Georgia had a very good day," Auburn Coach David Marsh said Friday night. "They (Georgia) got the great start yesterday and that's why they are in position ahead of us."

Arizona is third with 290 points, Florida is fourth with 256 and Stanford is fifth at 216.

"We have to respect Arizona and Florida coming up from behind," Marsh said "We are in a battle. We are in a mathematical battle for first, but also a real battle for our final four spot, too."

Coventry claimed her second title of the 2005 championships as the Olympic champion saw a 4:04.48 to easily win the 400 individual medley. Her time is the second-fastest 400-yard IM time of all-time, trailing only Summer Sanders' 4:02.28 from 1992.

Her victory also marked the fourth time in school history that Auburn has swept the individual medley events at the NCAA Championships as Maggie Bowen accomplished the feat from 2001-03.

"This championship has really gone well for me," Coventry said. "I am having a lot of fun and really enjoying myself. Honestly, this race was painful, but it went well. Winning was the plan. My back kick spun at times, but this still was a good race for me, and I'm happy about my time. I'm a senior, so I'm just trying to do all I can to fire up my team."

Hoelzer defended her NCAA title in the 200 freestyle as the Huntsville native swam 1:44.60, holding off the field by almost a half-second. Hoelzer, who led from the blocks, lowered her own school record by 24 one-hundredths of a second, which she set in leading off the 800 freestyle relay at the 2004 SEC Championships.

Margaret Hoelzer is an NCAA champ again as a senior.

It was also the third straight year that Auburn claimed at least a share of the 200 free title as Heather Kemp tied North Carolina's Jessi Perruquet for the title in 2003.

"I wasn't happy about yesterday's performance so I decided that today that I was just going to take it out," Hoelzer said. "I knew it would hurt, I knew it wouldn't feel good, but I was determined to suck it up and do what it took to win. Luckily, it worked out in my favor."

Marsh liked what he say from the senior. "Margaret's 200 free may be the gutsiest swim in a long, long time," Marsh said. "She wasn't feeling well in this meet and things weren't coming easy. She didn't have a real good (200 medley) relay split before that and yet she decided that she was going to go out in the race and say, ‘If you are going to beat me, you are going to beat me by catching me, not by me catching you.' She set the standard in the race and never let up."

As she did in 2004, Hoelzer returned to the pool two events after winning the 200 free and claimed a runner-up finish in the 100 back, posting a time of 52.99, just being out-touched by Arizona's Marshi Smith, who went 52.82.

Junior Jeri Moss earned the first top-eight NCAA finish of her career as the Riverside, Calif., native went 53.73 in finishing sixth. Senior Jenni Anderson finished 16th (55.34).

Auburn finished day two of three by placing third in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 7:03.75. Coventry led off for the Tigers and lowered the school record in the 200 free, which Hoelzer had set earlier in the evening, to 1:44.48. She was followed by freshman Emily Kukors, who split 1:46.05, and junior Jana Kolukanova, who went 1:48.02. Hoelzer than took the task of anchoring on her shoulders for the second straight season and blistered the waters for a 1:45.20 split, the second-best anchor leg in the field by only one one-hundredths of a second to Lacey Nymeyer of Arizona (1:45.19). Georgia won the event with an American and NCAA Meet Record 7:01.03.

"If you look at most of the swimmers in this meet that competed at the Olympics, many are struggling in many cases," Marsh said. "Kirsty is probably the one that has come back the best. Her relay swim was fabulous. She continues to be a leader by example and a leader by her passion for the team."

Not to be overshadowed by Coventry's 400 IM swim earlier in the evening was sophomore Adrienne Binder, who went 4:11.38, which was just 18 one-hundredths of a second off of her career-best short course-yards time, placing her fifth in the field.

Swimming in the consolation finals of the 400 IM, freshman Julie Stupp dropped over two-and-a-half seconds from her prelims time to finish third in the race, 11th overall, with a time of 4:13.90. Sophomore Hayley Peirsol was 15th with a time of 4:16.34 while junior Lauren Duerk registered a 4:19.10 in finishing 16th.

Joining Hoelzer in the championship finals of the 200 freestyle was Kukors of Auburn, Wash., who touched the wall at 1:47.35 to finish seventh.

Sophomore Tawnie Bethune brought home an eighth-place finish in the 100 butterfly, the first individual All-American honor or her career, as she clocked a 53.34 in the championship finals. Swimming in the consolations finals was junior Jeri Moss, who clocked a 55.15 to finish 16th, earning the first All-American honor in a fly event in her career.

Sophomore Lynnsey Segraves picked up Auburn's first diving points of the championships when she scored a career-best 476.20 in the 3-meter competition. The scored bettered her previous best by 10 points and was good enough for a 10th-place finish at the championships. The Tigers' night started out with a fifth-place finish in the 200 medley relay as AU put together a time of 1:40.02. Anderson led off with a 25.67 backstroke split and was followed by Denby's 28.25 breaststroke leg. Hoelzer narrowed the gap on the teams ahead of them as she went 23.81 for the fly leg, the second-fastest time in the field, before handing off to Kolukanova, who closed in a time of 22.29.

Swimming in the consolation finals of the 100 breaststroke, freshman Kara Denby made the biggest individual move of the night as she qualified 16th out of the prelims this morning and moved up to a 10th-place finish tonight with a time of 1:01.49. Her time ranks fourth all-time on the school list, bettering her own personal-best time by over a half-second.

"Kara's swim was just a celebration in finding a breaststroker," Marsh said. "For us, obviously, we wish she would have had that a little earlier, but we will take that at any point in the meet. It was a real lift because we needed to move up and that was a real key point at that point of the meet."

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