March 26, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. --- Georgia's Mark Dylla finally has his NCAA trophy.
Dylla, the two-time runner-up and 2010 sympathetic figure, broke through to win the 200 butterfly on Saturday to highlight the Bulldogs' efforts on the final day of the NCAA Championships at Minnesota's University Aquatic Center.
The Bulldogs wound up 10th with 157 points for their fourth straight and 11th overall top-10 finish. The team title went to California, which edged Texas.
Dylla won the 200 butterfly in 1:40.60, lowering his own school record. He held off Stanford's Bobby Bollier (1:40.76) for the title.
"I worked this whole past year for this race today," Dylla said. "To see everything come to fruition like it did tonight and end my career on this, I couldn't ask for more. Last year was a bummer, but I'll take this one absolutely."
Dylla was the prohibitive favorite for the title at the 2010 NCAAs after twice finishing as the national silver medalist. He touched first in his signature event, only to be disqualified moments later when an official said Dylla used a one-handed touch on his first turn. That night - and over the next several weeks - Dylla was showered with words, calls and texts of encouragement.
"I won't lie. Last year was tough," Dylla said, choking back emotions. "I struggled with that for quite awhile. ... But you get to the point where nothing's going to change. I turned all that disappointment and all that anger into energy every day when I walked into the pool. It really took awhile, but I am thrilled with how it turned out."
"I am about as happy as I've been for anybody anytime," Georgia coach Jack Bauerle said. "It's well deserved. To carry it for a year is difficult, and I had to tell a lot of jokes to keep him loose. He's a special kid. ... He knew what was on the line and he went out and did it. He deserved it."
Matt Bartlett came in 13th in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:44.04.
Martin Grodzki finished as the runner-up in the 1,650 freestyle for the second straight year. Grodzki touched in 14:34.80, trailing only Texas' Michael McBroom (14:32.86) and matching Stanford's Chad LaTourette. Will Freeman stopped the clock in 14:54.58 to take 11th.
"I was happy with the time," said Grodzki, who won the 1,650 freestyle at the SEC Championship in 2010 and 2011. "It was a faster time than the SECs. I would like to have gone a little faster. You go in (with the nation's top time) and you want to come out first, but I was happy with the race."