Feb. 19, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas --- The members of the women's 800-yard freestyle relay and diver Laura Ryan made history on Tuesday to highlight Georgia's showing in the Southeastern Conference Championships at Texas A&M.
The Lady Bulldogs, who have won the last three SEC titles, opened in second place with 151 points. Tennessee has the team lead with 185. On the men's side, the Bulldogs stand eighth with 103 points. Auburn is on top with 196.
The Lady Bulldogs' 800-yard freestyle relay of Shannon Vreeland, Megan Romano, Jordan Mattern and Allison Schmitt recorded a time of 6:52.64 to shatter the American, U.S. Open, NCAA and SEC records. Georgia set the previous American and SEC records in 2011 with Schmitt also anchoring that relay. Cal's U.S. Open and NCAA mark was posted in 2009, also in College Station. Vreeland and Schmitt were teammates on the 800-meter freestyle relay that won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.
"An American record, that's pretty neat," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "You always worry about just winning at this meet, but an American record is special. That's the four fastest ladies ever in the history of our sport. I'm very proud of them. And I think we can go faster. We want to reset that thing and make it a better one."
"We are all super excited about it," Mattern said. "If you saw us behind the blocks, we were so nervous. We just wanted to go out and try our best, and that's what we did. We were excited about the record, but we take it gracefully and calmly. It was fun. And I could not have been with a greater group of girls than I was with."
Vreeland's leadoff split of 1:43.38 is the second-fastest in the country this year, trailing only Schmitt's 1:42.25.
Ryan, who joined the Lady Bulldogs this year after spending two seasons at Indiana, became the first Georgia woman to win a gold medal at the SECs as she took the title on the 3-meter springboard. Ryan scored 361.80 points, holding off Tennessee's Jodie McGroarty (355.10).
"I had my teammates cheering me on and it was an amazing atmosphere," Ryan said. "It's so exciting to come away with the win. We've put in a lot of hard work and we've really been focusing on this meet. I went in with the mindset of not worrying about what others were doing. I just wanted to pay attention to my own diving, and that worked for me. I was a little shaky at first, but I dialed in and said, 'OK, I can do this. Just breathe.' Georgia has had a lot of great divers, so to be the first SEC winner means a lot."
"Laura has worked hard all year long, and she definitely deserves this," Georgia diving coach Dan Laak said. "She's been a great asset to our team and a great addition. Today she just stayed focused. She's a seasoned veteran and she kept plugging along. She hit some key dives and pulled it off at the end."
• The men's 200-yard medley relay of Anival Rodriguez, Nic Fink, Doug Reynolds and Matt Ellis went 1:25.76 to come in fourth and shatter the school record of 1:26.16 set at the SECs a year ago.
• The men's 800-yard freestyle relay of Jameson Hill, Fink, Chase Kalisz and Matias Koski placed fifth in 6:23.55 — the third-fastest time in school history.
• The women's 200-yard medley team of Kelsey Gaid, Melanie Margalis, Lauren Harrington and Jessica Graber posted a time of 1:37.90 to come in seventh. That is the eighth-fastest time in school history.
• Ann-Perry Blank finished 17th on the women's 3-meter springboard with 280.45 points.
• Bobby Chambless came in 24th on the men's 1-meter springboard with 239.30 points.
The SECs will continue on Wednesday with the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard individual medley, the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle relay and women's 1-meter diving.