Despite Record, AU Fifth at NCAA Meet

Auburn's bid for a record sixth straight national championship is not going as well as hoped.

Federal Way, Wash.--Despite a record-setting performance to open the second night of competition, Auburn lost contact with an Arizona team that is running away with the 2008 Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Heading into the final day of competition on Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center, Arizona leads the competition with 376 points. Texas is second with 285 followed by Stanford at 231, Cal with 222.5 and Auburn at 213.

Auburn's 200 medley team of Scott Goodrich, David Maras, Alexei Puninski and Cesar Cielo won the event by breaking their own NCAA record time of 1:23.37 from last year's nationals by turning in a time of 1:23.24.

For Cielo, it was his third victory of the event, which ties the Auburn record of nine held by Auburn assistant coach Brett Hawke.

"I always have trouble with the exchanges from Alexei and when he came in I saw it was close between us and Arizona so I decided to play it safe," Cielo said. "I didn't know I was going to go that fast. It is amazing to go 18.1 after going 18.4 yesterday so it gave me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow's 100 free."

Cielo's 50-yard freestyle split was 18.19. He set an NCAA record on Thursday night with a time of 18.47 for 50 yards.

Maras, a senior, was excited with the victory after bouncing back from a broken bone in his elbow suffered in January. "I can't even explain it, how I feel right now," he said. "I didn't even expect to be swimming right now so coming back and setting the record is unbelievable. These guys are my best friends, the guys I did it last year with, and I'm just speechless."

Puninski also set an Auburn record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 45.51. That was better than the old NCAA record, but the Auburn senior finished second behind Arizona's Albert Subirates, who posted a 45.07.

"I'm pretty tired right now after the 200 relay so I'm happy with the time, but I certainly would have liked to have won the race," said Puninski. "I've worked really hard this year so I'm happy with how I swam and I am looking forward to swimming harder the rest of the meet."

Auburn's pair of sophomore divers qualified third and fourth in the three-meter competition, but finished fifth and eighth in the finals. Kelly Marx took fifth with a score of 398.05 in the event won by Reuben Ross of Miami with a score of 466.80. Marx scored 14 points and Dan Mazzafero finished with a total of 370.75 to score 11 points.

Tyler McGill was eighth in the race and Cielo 15th.

"I'm really proud of our team and the way they fought today," said Auburn coach Richard Quick. "I'm especially proud of our 200 medley relay team. Scott Goodrich is a great senior leader starting off that relay and David Maras has made an extraordinary comeback and has done an excellent job. Alexei Puninski swam a butterfly that is just off the charts and Cesar Cielo was amazing, absolutely amazing.

"We are going to have to come back here tomorrow ready to work," Quick added. "We have a ladder to climb here to move up in the rankings and a lot of work left in order to do it."

NCAA Meet 2008


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