Cats Split with Alabama in SEC Dual Meet

Jan. 15, 2011

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Going down to the final race of the meet, the University of Kentucky women’s 400-freestyle relay team had their backs against the wall. The UK women’s swimming and diving team trailed visiting Alabama 144-139 heading into the final race at the Lancaster Aquatic Center Saturday afternoon. The Cats came through under pressure though, taking first- and third-place in the 400-free relay to win the meet 152-148.

The women’s 400-freestyle relay team was Kayla Sergesketter, Jenna Newsome, Kristen Wilson and Mandy Myers. The men’s team fell to No. 17 Alabama 178-122.

“I thought this was a great meet for us on both the men’s and women’s side,” UK head coach Gary Conelly said. “The women had great performances that suggest we are on track to break into the top 20 at NCAAs. Lisa Faulkner’s diving put us in a position early on where we knew we had a good chance to win. After her one-meter performance, the Alabama women were playing catch up the whole meet. Kayla Sergesketter continued to impress and Kelly Titus had a break through day with lifetime best swims in the 1,000 and 500 free. Our women’s 200 medley relay looks every bit as good as our men’s. The four ladies on that relay, Chatham Penrod, Lindsey Grasselle, Mandy Myers and Jenna Newsome really set the tone for the meet.”

The women’s 200 medley relay team, and the men’s 200-medley relay team of Ramon Walton, Matt Russell, Jonathan Keltner and Chip Aplin took first place to begin the meet for the Cats.

Sergesketter won the 100 and 200 free, and came in second in the 50 free. The women dominated the 100 freestyle, sweeping the race with Sergesketter taking first place, followed closely by Newsome and Chelsea Peterson in second and third, respectively.

Titus, a freshman from Bowling Green, Ohio, finished in second place in the 1,000 free, swimming a career-best time of 10:18.12. Titus also swam to a second-place finish in the 500 free.

Chatham Penrod, an Arcanum, Ohio, native continued her impressive senior campaign, leading the Cats to victories in the 100 and 200 backstroke.

Graessle won the 100 breast for UK with a time of 1:03.49. Graessle topped second place by over two seconds. The Wildcats didn’t win the 100 butterfly, but gained valuable points by capturing second-, third, fourth- and fifth-place finishes.

Lisa Faulkner opened strong for the Cats by taking first place on the one-meter board.
The men’s team also got off to a strong start thanks to freshman Greg Ferrucci. The Huntersville, N.C., native has led the men’s diving team all season and is one of the top divers in the SEC. Ferrucci currently ranks second-, third- and fourth all-time in the Kentucky record books in the platform, three-meter board and one-meter board, respectively. Ferrucci opened the meet Saturday with a victory on the three-meter board for the Cats and a first-place and career-best score of 362.25 on the one-meter board.

“It is never fun to lose but our men put up a terrific fight with a very high percentage of in-season best times,” Conelly said. “I was particularly pleased with Matt Russell’s 100 breaststroke as well as Ramon Walton’s 100 back and Will Heidler’s 200 IM. The medley relay was outstanding for the men, I think they are a legit top-16 team for the NCAA Championships. I would also like to point out that Greg Ferrucci beat some of the best divers in the country today.”

Russell, a junior captain for the men’s team, tapped in with a season-best time of 56.02 in the 100 breast to take first-place marks for the Cats. Russell also earned a season-best time in the 200 breast after he came in second-place with a time of 2:06.37.

Heidler led UK in the 200 IM with a first-place time of 1:52.72.

Walton a sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica, recorded a season-best time in the 100 backstroke with a time of 50.22 to finish in third place.

The men’s team swam very well in the 50 free Saturday afternoon, taking first- and second-place. Senior Chip Aplin won the race with a season-best time of 20.34. Sophomore David Sanders followed him in second place, also earning a season-best time of 20.85.

“I was very proud of our men and women,” Conelly said. “They all swam and dove with heart and determination. This was certainly our best dual meet performance to date.”

The Cats will hit the pool again Saturday at the Lancaster Aquatic Center for their senior day meet against intrastate rival Louisville.

Live results will again be available for the fans to follow the Cats as the race results come in, and parking garage No. 7 will be open free of charge for fans and media to park.

Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for all Kentucky swimming and diving news.