Wildcats Open Up SEC Championships With Three Records and Two Medals


COLUMBIA, Mo. – At the close of the first day of the 2016 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, Kentucky’s women are tied for the lead with 154 points while the men are tied for eighth with 114 points.  Both sides saw success, with the team winning two medals while posting three school records and three top-10 marks on UK’s all-time list.

“First and foremost, our divers were fantastic,” commended head coach Lars Jorgensen.  “Becca (Hamperian) and Seb (Masterton) were both really, really good.  And the girls’ relays were really phenomenal…Overall, a fantastic day for the Cats.  Like I said, Ted (Hautau) did a great job with the divers, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Hamperian started things off on the right foot for the Wildcats with a reprise of her performance from last year when she finished runner-up in the 1-meter dive.  Hamperian had the second seed going into the finals and stayed consistent, hitting a personal best of 333.75 to earn silver.  Her mark now stands as second on UK’s all-time list, behind only Taryn Ignacio’s 2007 score of 337.60.  The women had a solid showing across the board, with Courtney Clark and Kailey Francetic placing 12th and 13th with 268.80 and 266.65 points, respectively, while Maddie Gordon finished 20th with 245.45 points.

“I think our young guys, our freshmen, just came out here and had a good mental outlook on the meet.  They were consistent and they had fun,” noted diving coach Hautau.

The women started off the meet with the 200 medley relay, in which Danielle Galyer, Kendra Crew, Haley McInerny and Geena Freriks finished eighth overall in 1:38.58.  Three of the four swimmers teamed up later in the evening for the 800 free relay, which saw the lineup of Galyer, Freriks, Kendal Casey and McInerny break Kentucky’s record in the event and notch an NCAA A cut in 7:05.68, earning a sixth-place finish overall.  Furthermore, Galyer’s leadoff 200 free split of 1:46.29 was a personal record for the junior that broke UK’s standard in the event by a tenth of a second.

The men also earned a silver medal when freshman diver Masterton finished second on the 3-meter springboard with a personal-best 408.10 points, just over three points away from claiming the overall title.  Masterton moves up to second on UK’s all-time list behind Greg Ferrucci, and breaks his freshman record of 400.55 points set in 2011.  Also scoring for the men in the 3-meter was Noah Richter, who placed 19th with 290.40 points.

“Seb, you could see right from the beginning of the year that he’s just got a real good mental edge,” said Hautau.  “For him just to go in there and go on his head six times, it was awesome.  And he was in a position to win, and he was going for it, so I loved that.  The way he looked in that moment, he liked it, and I told him he would like this environment.”

Kentucky placed 10th in the 200 medley relay behind the lineup of Walker Thaning, George Greenhalgh, Matt Roman and Cobe Garcia in 1:27.18.  Earlier in the day, Greenhalgh and Garcia had both competed in time trials and posted impressive times in the 100 breast and 50 free, respectively.  Greenhalgh shattered his own record in the 100 breast by a second, finishing in 52.51 seconds and moved up to ninth in the nation in the event with an NCAA B cut.  Garcia went sub-20 for the first time in his career, swimming a 19.86 that is just .06 seconds outside UK’s top-10 list but places Garcia at 31st in the nation  and second among collegiate freshmen with a B cut.

The men capped off the meet with another NCAA B cut in the 800 free relay, with the quartet of Sean Gunn, Scott Crosthwaite, Kyle Higgins and Isaac Jones just missing out on the UK record by a second in 6:24.65, good for sixth in the meet.  Additionally, Gunn’s leadoff time of 1:35.82 moves the junior up to fifth on Kentucky’s all-time list.

The Wildcats continue their championship slate tomorrow, with the prelims for the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and men’s 1-meter dive beginning at 10 a.m. CT.  The finals will follow at 6 p.m., with the addition of the 200 free relay.

For the latest on the Kentucky swimming and diving program, follow @UKSwimDive on Twitter, on Facebook at Facebook.com/UKSwimDive, and on the web at ukathletics.com.