Tigers Have Disappointing First Day

Athens, Ga.--After a promising start to day one of the 2002 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, the Auburn Tigers couldn't make a move on the leaders in the night session and find themselves in a hole heading into day two.

With 83.5 points, coach David Marsh's Tigers find themselves in fifth place after the first day of competition. While they are a far cry from being out of contention for the overall title, they have put themselves behind the eight ball a long way from the leaders. In first place is Texas with 163 points followed by pre-meet favorite Stanford with 143 points. In third place is Arizona with 104 points and Florida is fourth with 91 points. Rounding out the top 11 behind Auburn are Southern California, California, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia and homestanding Georgia.

In the morning qualifying races the Tigers put up a solid performance, qualifying five in the finals of the six scheduled events, including two in the 200 Yard Individual Medley. With three more in the consolation finals Auburn had a chance to pile up some points with good outings in the night session. But to their disappointment that didn't happen.

The first race of the night held true to form as the top four teams in qualifying finished first through fourth in the finals. Swimming the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay for the Tigers, freshmen Ryan Wochomurka, Derek Gibb and Matthew Kidd along with senior Eric van Goethem qualified fourth in the morning with a time of 1:17.72. Although they improved their time in the final to a season best 1:17.41, it wasn't good enough to move up as Stanford blew away the field with a time of 1:16.49. The time was good enough to set a new NCAA Record, beating Auburn's time from 1999 of 1:16.50. California finished second while Arizona was third.

The 500 Yard Freestyle was race two and Auburn didn't qualify anyone for the finals but freshman Benjamin Jones did make it into the consolations. He finished 15th on the night with a time of 4:23.08. Race three was where the Tigers hoped to make their mark. Both Mark Gangloff and Kirk Hampleman qualified for the finals in the 200 Yard Individual Medley while senior Kevin Clements snuck into the consolations despite a disappointing performance. The night just wasn't to be as Gangloff and Hampleman finished seventh and eighth respectively with times of 1:46.56 and 1:50.07. Hampleman suffered the tough luck of the night as he lost both his swim cap and goggles and that cost him dearly and contributed to his disappointing finish. Clements didn't fare much better in the consolations by finishing 14th with a time of 1:47.29.

In the fourth race of the night the Tigers had a surprise qualifier as Gibb managed to make the final eight in the 50 Yard Freestyle by swimming a career best time of :19.76 in the morning. Wochomurka didn't make it into the finals but did make the consolation finals with a time of :19.88. Neither could make a move in the night session though as Gibb turned in a time of :19.92 to finish seventh while Wochomurka swam a :19.83, good enough for 10th place. In the 1 Meter Springboard Diving the Tigers had some minor success with Matthew Bricker placing 10th overall while Caesar Garcia finished in 22nd place.

The final event of the night was to be Auburn's chance to make up some ground. In the morning the Tigers had placed fifth in the 400 Yard Medley Relay with a time of 3:11.69. But a disqualfication because of an early jump left the Tigers clawing for their lives as the books closed on first day of competition.

Day two is normally a strong day for the Tigers and never has that been more important than this season. With the 200 Yard Medley Relay, the 400 Yard Individual Medley, the 100 Butterfly, the 200 Yard Freestyle, the 100 Yard Breastroke, the 100 Yard Backstroke, the 3 Meter Springboard Diving and the 800 Yard Freestyle Relay on tap, Auburn needs a solid day from several performers to get back into contention for the title. The championships wrap up Saturday.


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