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AU swimmers poised for big finish

INDIANAPOLIS – Auburn was poised for a big finish after getting scoring performances from three individuals and a relay on the second night of finals at the NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships.

Stuart Ferguson swims in the 200-meter medley relay/Todd Van Emst photo

Senior Kyle Owens led the way for the Tiger individuals with a sixth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke, earning first-team All-America honors for the third straight year in the event with a time of 46.26 seconds.

The 200 medley relay team of Owens, Stuart Ferguson, Marcelo Chierighini and James Disney-May grabbed a fourth-place finish in the championship final with a time of 1:24.45, almost identical to their time from the morning’s preliminary. Owens led off with an outstanding 20.99 split on the backstroke leg.

The Tigers are in eighth place with 167.5 points going into thefinal day of competition, just 1.5 back of seventh-place Stanford. Michigan continues to lead the championships with 336 points, but California is still in contention in second place with 301.5. Among SEC teams, Florida is in fifth place, Auburn eighth, Georgia 10th, Missouri 12th, Tennessee 19th, Kentucky 23rd, and Texas A&M 24th.

“I feel like Saturday will be our strongest day,” Auburn coach Brett Hawke said. “The boys are excited about coming in and racing tough in the morning. We knew the second day wasn’t going to be our strongest, but we’ve got some great events tomorrow, the 200 back, 100 free, the mile and platform diving, plus another relay. They’re all good events for us, so we’re really excited about tomorrow. We just had to get through today.”

Junior Zane Grothe secured his second All-America certificate of the week with a fourth-place finish (12th overall) in the 200 freestyle consolation final, clocking a 1:34.58. After trailing the field for much of the first 175 yards, Grothe turned on the jets over the final 50, posting the second-fastest split in the field at 23.58, and finishing just .14 out of third place.

Auburn also got a scoring performance from junior diver John Santeiu, who scored a career-best 400.50 in the 3-meter diving consolation final to finish 10th overall and earn his second career All-America honor.

“John did a great job yesterday on 1-meter being consistent, finally scoring at the NCAA Championships,” Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer said. “It’s a lot different than a year ago where it was kind of like a deer in headlights. Today he stepped it up one more notch. He was really solid all the way through prelims, then had a personal-best in finals, scoring over 60-65 points on every dive. Really proud of his efforts today, and it was really rewarding to see him put together a list and a personal best at the NCAAs.”

The 800 freestyle relay team of Grothe, Alex Hancock, Arthur Mendes and Tommy McKee finished the night with a 19th-place finish in a time of 6:26.24.

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