Lady Vols Finish Strong in Win Over No. 12 Georgia

ATHENS, Go. – Tennessee swimming & diving split its meet with Georgia, as the sixth-ranked Lady Vols beat No. 12 UGA, 163-135, while the No. 16 Vols fell 169.5-129.5 to the 12th-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday at Gabrielsen Natatorium.

After winning just one event before the first break, the Lady Vols dominated the second portion of the meet, posting the top time in six of the final seven events.

“This team fought really hard today,” associate head coach Ashley Jahn said. “I thought they were a little bit tentative in the first half of the meet. Georgia is an awesome team, and they are always competitive. We have a pretty young group, and I think they were maybe a little surprised. That might have caused them not to be as aggressive in the first half of their races, and Georgia took advantage of that and capitalized on it. , Danika Katzer, said we could be more aggressive. Everyone agreed, and that’s what they did in the second part of the meet. They did an awesome job of identifying the problem themselves and then executing in the second half.”

Starting with the 200 back, Summer Smith posted a 1:56.91 to place first, while Katzer (1:57.03) and Bayley Stewart (1:58.06) took second and third. The 100 fly was all Tennessee, as Ellen Walshe (52.91) got the win, Trude Rothrock (53.47) placed second, Mallory Beil (53.73) finished third and Emma Carlton (53.85) came in fourth. Julia Mrozinskic picked up the victory in the 500 free, touching the wall in 4:47.99, after placing third in the 200 free (1:48.37).

On the women’s 3-meter, Grace Cable posted a clutch performance and took the top spot, recording a score of 309.08. Elle Renner finished second in the event with a 283.05 score. The duo’s effort lifted the Lady Vols in front of Georgia for their first lead of the meet. Cable also placed second on the 1-meter with a 281.78 score.

“Our performance on the 3-meter was obviously a big factor in the final outcome of the meet,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “It was really gratifying to see Grace and Elle step up and get it done under those circumstances. We like to compete. Honestly, neither of them dove particularly great, but both of them did what they needed to do at the right moments in the competition. I’m really proud of all of our ladies diving in the meet. It was a good under-pressure performance as we get ready for SECs.”

Tennessee put the meet away down the stretch, as Walshe picked up her second win of the day with a 1:57.47 time in the 200 IM. Alexis Yager finished third in the event with a mark of 2:00.20 followed by Smith (2:01.76) in fourth.

The Lady Vols sealed the win by taking the top two spots in the 400 free relay. The lineup of Rothrock, Jasmine Rumley, Walshe and Tjasa Pintar threw down a time of 3:20.01 to finish first. The squad of Mrozinski, Carlton, Yager and Sara Stotler placed second behind a 3:23.39 mark.

Kristen Stege’s 9:42.33 time in the 1000 free was UT’s other win on the day. Other notable performances included Carlton taking second in the 100 back (54.01), Smith placing second with a personal-best time of 1:57.77 in the 200 fly and Rumley posting the second-best time in the 50 free (22.68). Tennessee took second and third in both breaststroke races, as Alexandra Gebel (1:00.88) and Mona McSharry (1:00.90) had a tight finish in the 100, and Yager (2:11.07) and Gebel (2:12.13) battled in the 200.

Men’s diving enjoyed a good day, as Bryden Hattie and Matthew Wade took the top two spots on both springboards. Hattie swept both events, scoring a 350.48 on the 1-meter and a 381.45 on the 3-meter. Wade finished second after throwing down a 334.20 on the 1-meter and a 357.15 on the 3-meter. Jacob Reasor placed third to complete the sweep on the 1-meter (310.20).

“Really strong performance by the guys,” Parrington said. “Again, we weren’t spectacular today. Our guys all got up and competed. Dillon Richardson had a really scrappy performance, and I’m proud of him. Kudos to Bryden for sweeping both events today. He did some nice stuff. Matt Wade was really solid. We had a couple of guys perform new dives and do well. A lot of good stuff going on, and a solid diving performance with the results that we needed.”

The men’s side featured several strong swims by the Vols, including a sweep of the 100 breast. Jarel Dillard finished first in the event with a time of 52.47. Michael Houlie came in second (53.31), while Brett Champlin took third (53.81). Dillard and Champlin tied for first in the 200 breast, recording times of 1:57.73. The win marked Champlin’s first of the season.

in the freestyle, Jordan Crooks won a pair of tight races in the 50 and 100. His 50 free time of 20.02 was just 0.05 seconds faster than second place. In the 100 free, he won the race by 0.13 seconds with a 43.84 time.

Harrison Lierz took second in both backstroke events. He narrowly missed winning the 100 back with a time of 47.91, just 0.01 seconds behind the top time. He notched a mark of 1:45.07 in the 200 back. In the 200fly, Kayky Mota took second with a mark of 47.42. The Vols placed second in both the 200 medley relay (1:26.95) and the 400 free relay (2:56.72).

“We had some up and down swims today, which can happen at this time of the year,” associate head coach Rich Murphy said. “The Georgia meet is a good snapshot for what we need to fine tune or dial in as we head into SECs. Jarel Dillard continued to be an emotional leader for us with his performances today. His enthusiasm is infectious. I was really pleased with how our four divers contributed to the team’s competitive energy today. Jordan Crooks continued to star on our relays and maintain his consistent assertiveness. Brett Champlin had his best performance, by far, of the year, and he’s someone we could benefit from at the end of the year. Harrison Lierz took another step forward today and led his class in the pool. Georgia has a quality team and coaching staff, and I congratulate them on a strong meet.”

Up next, UT returns home on Saturday, January 29, to face Carson-Newman at noon at Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center for the final dual meet of the year. Tennessee will honor its seniors during the competition.

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