NCAA Champs! Tigers Do It Again

Auburn reeled in Texas on Saturday night and celebrated its eighth men's NCAA Swimming and Diving national championship.

College Station, Tex.--Auburn re-established its dominance in collegiate men's swimming by winning its eighth NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championship by rallying to knock off the Texas Longhorns on Saturday.

After seeing its national title streak end last year as Arizona won the team title, the Tigers have finished first, making it six out of the past seven seasons they have taken home the championship trophy

Although the Tigers had a comfortable lead going into the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, interim head coach Brett Hawke said he was nervous because Texas could overtake the Tigers if Auburn was disqualified for an early start.

"I told the guys to sit on the blocks and I was hoping we would finish third or fourth in the relay," he said. "I was really surprised when we pulled ahead and then won the relay.

"I was really proud of the whole team," he said. "We had so many people who swam well for us. Coming in Matt Targett was our star. He swam really well for us in the relays, but didn't have as great a meet in the individual events.

"We won this meet without any superstar performances," Hawke added. "We had so many people step up for us and swim well, guys who were no-names coming into the meet. I had so many people asking me on the deck, 'Who is that guy and where did he come from?'

"I am really proud of the whole group," Hawke added. "This was truly a team victory and this is the best true team I have ever been around."

" Auburn finished the meet with 526 points after winning the final event, the 400 freestyle relay, with Texas taking second in the relay and the meet. The Longhorns scored 487 points.

Stanford was third with 460.5 followed by Cal with 350 and Florida with 324.

Coach Brett Hawke (left) watches the action on Saturday night. He said the championship was dedicated to ailing head coach Richard Quick, who could not attend the competition.

Auburn trailed by 40 points after the first day of competition on Thursday. By the end of Friday night's events the Tigers had narrowed the gap to just six points and took the lead on the fourth of the seven events contested on Saturday night on the campus of Texas A&M.

The Tigers began final session of competition down just six points, but fell behind 377-342 when Texas swimmers took fourth and fifth in the opening event Saturday night, the 1650 freestyle.

The Tigers cut the lead to 393-386 by scoring three swimmers in the "A" finals of the 200 backstroke with Pascal Wollach the top Tiger finisher in fourth place with a time of 1:39.65. Texas took sixth while Auburn's Kholton Norys was seventh and Jared White was eighth. Max Murphy added six points for the Tigers by finishing third in the consolation finals (11th overall).

Team members cheer on Wollach, Norys and White in the 200-yard backstroke on Saturday night.

Next up was the 100 freestyle, which proved to be a disappointment for the Tigers, who went into the meet with three of the top six seeded swimmers in the event. Number two seed Targett swam a time of 41.64 to score 16 points for third place. Targett finished behind Cal's Nathan Adrian (41.08) and James Feigen of Texas who swam a 41.49.

Gideon Louw finished last (eighth) in the "A" final to score 11 points. Jacob Andkajer won the consolation final to score nine more points, but Texas took second, fifth and 12th to keep the lead at 429-422.

The Tigers took the lead in the next event, the 200 breaststroke, as Adam Klein came through with a fourth place for 14 points to put Auburn up 427-436. Klein swam a time of 1:52.96 to break the school record time of 1:53.44 he set earlier in the day in the prelims. Prior to Saturday, Dave Dennison's record in the event had stood for eight years.

Logan Madson swims the breaststroke for the Tigers on Saturday night.

Auburn extended its lead with Logan Madson taking third place in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:41.70 and Tyler McGill finished fifth in 1:42.44. Texas did not score in the event and the Tigers added six points for Robert Looney's 11th place finish. That made the score 473-436 with Stanford third at 426.5.

The Tigers had a disappointing Saturday in the platform diving as they scored just 13 points with neither Dan Mazzaferro (10th) nor Kelly Marx (11th) qualifying for the finals, something they were expected to do. However, Texas had just one scorer in the event, Drew Livingston, who took second, so Auburn's relay just needed to make sure it didn't DQ to win the meet. The Tigers did that and more winning race with a a time of 2:36.67. Texas was second in 2:47.02.

Andkjaer, Targett, Norys and Tyler McGill swam the relay for Auburn.

The Tigers dedicated the victory to Richard Quick, head coach of the men's and women's team who has been sidelined since December when being diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor. Quick is credited with the national title, a record 13th, which breaks a tie with former Auburn head coach David Marsh. Quick won seven NCAA women's titles at Stanford and five NCAA women's titles at Texas where he went after originally coaching at Auburn, first as women's coach and then as head coach of both the men's and women's teams.

The Tigers wear T-shirts that say "Time to Represent" their coach, Richard Quick, as they receive their championship trophy.

Quick, who was unable to join the team for the men's or women's national championship meets, is the first coach to win national swimming and diving titles at three colleges.

"This is just a great way to finish the meet," Hawke said. "It's a great tribute to Richard Quick and what he means to this program. It's a huge win for this program and was a total team effort. There's not one person that stood out amongst us.

"We knew if we came out and won most of the relays, we would win the title," added Hawke, who noted that he promised his Tigers if they did that they would go home as champs. "We won four out of five (relays) and that was our goal."

Hawke said geting the championship trophy back to Auburn means a lot to the swimmers and the AU program. "We had a lot of alumni who were out there cheering us on," he said. "We have had lot of outstanding swimmers and divers in the Auburn program and it means a lot to us to win the NCAA and SEC championships.

"We are happy we were able to win the NCAA championship again and we know a lot of Auburn fans are happy for us," he added.

The Tigers celebrate their NCAA title in College Station.

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