Tigers Lead, But Face Challenge at NCAA Meet

Auburn's lead was narrowed as Stanford made a move in day two of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Minneapolis, Minn.--The field cut into Auburn's first day lead as the Tigers head into the third and final day of the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.

Auburn has a 38-point lead over Stanford and and 46-point advantage over Arizona, which dropped to third place. The Tigers are trying to win a third straight NCAA title and the fifth in AU history for the men's team.

"It is going to be an absolute battle tomorrow," Auburn coach David Marsh said Friday night. "It goes on tomorrow morning. The other thing is that I am just thrilled and excited that we have diving tomorrow because both of our guys are hot, as hot as any swimmer and 10 meter is their favorite level."

The Tigers go into Saturday's final day of competition with 338 points to 300 for Stanford, 292 for Arizona, 264 for California and 202 for Florida.

Coach David Marsh and his swimmers encourage the the medley relay team on Friday night in Minneapolis.

For the Tigers, junior Doug Van Wie was a part of two school records while junior Eric Shanteau and sophomore diver Steven Segerlin each set another school record on Friday.

"We always talk about coming into these meets and improving your seed time and improving your personal best," Marsh said. "Measuring it on that scale, today and this morning was one of the best sessions we have ever had.

"A lot of those personal-best times didn't score points, but they did help create momentum, they did help create atmosphere and they do show a lot of promise for the future, with the future including tomorrow," Coach Marsh added.

Van Wie lowered the school record that he set during the prelims in the 100-yard backstroke from 46.48 to 46.17 as he finished third. Northwestern's Matt Grevers won with a time of 45.62. Also swimming in the championship finals was senior Chad Barlow, who placed sixth with a 46.94. Freshman Scott Goodrich was 14th with a time of 47.95.

"I feel really honored to have the school record," Van wie said. "I knew I had a chance to win it so I tried to go out and race (Ryan) Lochte," Van Wie said. "I knew he would be fast, but it is still awesome to break a team record and go a best time at this meet."

Marsh had praise for Van Wie. "Doug just gets better all the time and he is really honing in now on competing against a couple of the best backstrokers in the world and really going toe-to-toe," Marsh said. "It should be fun to watch Doug in the 200 back tomorrow, but for now a third-place finish is outstanding for him."

As was the case on Thursday, the Tigers scored valuable points in diving with Serglin and senior Matt Bricker did the job. as the pair both scored for the Tigers for the second consecutive night.

Segerlin took a third-place finish and a school record for the second straight night with a finals score of 618.30 on the 3-meter springboard. The previous record had been 614.20 was set by Olympian Jose Rocha in 1987. Bricker placed 10th with a 545.15. Joona Puhakka of Arizona State won for the second night in a row with a 645.20.

"I was really very, very nervous because three-meter is the event that is the easiest to miss on," Segerlin said. "The dives are hard but they are not hard, so you have time to screw them up, unlike one-meter where there isn't really time to mess up," Segerlin said. "I was really excited. I kept confident and aggressive and got the team some valuable points in the race with Stanford."

AU diving coach Jeff Shaffere said, "I thought it was an awesome performance by Steven. Finally we break the school record on a three-meter championship list. We had a game plan of just being consistent and he dived with a tremendous amount of confidence tonight and really pushed Joona and (runner-up) Chris (Colwill of Georgia) to be their very best to hold him off. Tomorrow is another exciting day for us."

Shanteau's record came in the 400 individual medley, where he dropped over a second-and-a-half from his previous lifetime best, clocking a 3:42.22 to finish fourth, about three-fourths of a second better than the school record of 3:42.90 set by Kevin Clements in 2001. Shanteau's splits were 52.42 on the fly, 55.94 on the back, 1:01.87 on the breast (the top breaststroke split in the field) and a 52.21 for the freestyle. Winning the championship was Southern Cal's Ous Mellouli, who went 3:39.19, the third-fastest time in history.

Marsh said, "Eric's time was a school record so that was great for him. He was a little disappointed because he thought he could go faster, but he has a huge future in front of him and that race will get put together, even though it didn't happen the way he wanted it to tonight. He has the 200 breaststroke race tomorrow, which is very important for the team."

Auburn closed day two with a school record of a 6:20.70 in the 800 freestyle to finish fourth. Freshman Shai Livnat led off with a 1:36.20 and was followed by junior George Bovell, who went 1:34.11, the fastest split of the relay for Auburn. Freshman Rory Connell picked up on the third leg, posting a 1:34.81 before handing off to Van Wie, who closed with a 1:35.58 to shave an entire second off of the previous school record, which was set at the SEC Championships this season. Florida won the relay with a 6:16.53.

In the opening event of the night, the 200 medley relay had a fourth-place finish in a time of 1:25.79. California won the event with a time of 1:25.30.

Bovell took fourth place in 200 freestyle in 1:34.36. Senior B.J. Jones was 12th with a 1:36.14. Arizona's Simon Burnett won in 1:33.28.

Bousquet led the Auburn in the 100 butterfly finishing fifth, the highest NCAA finish of his career in the event. Wochomurka was 16th with a 47.69. Cal's Duje Draganja won in a NCAA meet record 45.39.

After the 100 breaststroke event, an event in which Auburn did not have a scorer for the first time in 67 events dating back to the 400 medley relay at the 2002 championships, Stanford had narrowed the deficit to a 10 points as Gary Marshall won the event for the Cardinal in a time of 52.68.

However, the Tigers added 28 more points to their lead going into Saturday's competition.

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