Zhang Named SEC Champion, Five Medals Earned, Two School Records Broken
AUBURN, Ala. – The University of Kentucky swimming and diving program earned its second gold medal of the 2020 Southeastern Conference Championships, meanwhile collecting five medals, breaking two school records and earning the second-fastest time in the nation on Friday night. Danny Zhang was crowned the SEC Champion on the men’s platform, recording a 2020 U.S. Olympic trials cut and a career high.
Zhang, a sophomore, collected 422.10 points in the finals platform event on Friday night, recording the highest platform score in his career and a 2020 U.S. Olympic trials cut. Zhang had only competed on platform four times in his career before finals, each time outdoing himself, including tonight. Before finals, he led the 25-person preliminaries field on 389.85 points, earning the top seed ahead of the championship rounds. It was in front of the sellout crowd in the finals event that the underclassman excelled, earning the first gold medal at the conference championships in his career.
Zhang has already earned a silver medal this week, collecting the hardware on the 3-meter springboard on Wednesday night, also with a score of 422.10. He has a remarkable three conference medals total in his short career thus far.
“I’m really proud of our guys tonight,” said head diving coach Ted Hautau. “Danny, who hasn’t competed on tower since he was a lot younger, to be able to put together that list and do those dives was incredible. He did them so well, and under pressure, it says a lot about him. I’m very proud and thankful for him.”
Chase Lane repeated his success from a season ago, earning his second silver medal on platform at the conference championships. The junior recorded a score of 403.65 in finals on Friday night, earning a silver medal, his first podium finish of the 2020 SEC Championships. It’s his best platform score this season, but not the best of his career. Lane holds the second-best score in program history on the discipline, recording 424.65 points to earn a silver medal at last season’s conference championships. It also serves as his 2020 U.S. Olympic trials cut.
“Chase was unbelievable,” Hautau said. “To be out as long as he has been out and to not have any of those dives under his belt, and to get up there and be able to execute them at a high level, I can’t tell you how incredible that was. He’s been a great leader and a warrior, this year.”
Women’s 200-yard butterfly
Izzy Gati posted two terrific swims in the women’s 200-yard butterfly, lowering her career best in preliminaries and once again in finals, ultimately earning a silver medal on the second-best time in the nation. Recording a 1:52.54 in finals, she dropped three full seconds off the career best she owned before coming into the conference meet. Her time, which is the second best in the nation, is also an NCAA automatic cut.
Women’s 100-yard backstroke
Asia Seidt has earned a podium finish in each of her swims at the 2020 SEC Championships thus far – two relays, two individual events. The senior kept that streak alive this evening, earning a bronze medal in the women’s 100-yard backstroke with a time of 50.73. The time marks her season best, but not her career best as the Louisville native owns the school record in the event with a time of 50.68.
Seidt’s bronze medal gives her 14 SEC Championship medals in her career thus far, a program record (male or female).
Women’s 400-yard medley relay
The women’s 400-yard medley relay once again earned a bronze medal, this time posting a school-record time of 3:29.69. Leading the foursome was nonother than Seidt, recording a backstroke time of 50.90. Sophomore Bailey Bonnett followed with the breaststroke leg, earning a time of 59.50. Gati followed with her impressive butterfly performance, swimming the third leg in 51.08. Senior Ali Galyer anchored with a freestyle time of 48.21.
Men’s 400-yard medley relay
The men’s 400-medley relay team also broke a school record, as four seniors earned a time stamp of 3:07.85. Glen Brown swam the lead leg in 47.28, followed by Wyatt Amdor in 51.88, then John Micthell in 46.59 and anchored by Peter Wetzlar in 42.10.
Rattle the Record Book
Eleven swimmers and divers set personal records that also rank as all-time, top-10 performances in school history, in their respected events –Gillian Davey, Riley Gaines, Izzy Gati, Jaclyn Hill, Luka Kraft, Lizzy Merriman, Daniel Orcutt, Sophie Sorenson, Alex Taylor, Mason Wilby and Danny Zhang.
Medal Count: 11
School Record Count: 8
Men’s 800-yard free relay (6:18.11)
Women’s 200-yard free, Ali Galyer (1:43.99)
Men’s 200-yard individual medley, Glen Brown (1:43.47)
Men’s 50-yard freestyle, Peter Wetzlar (19.27)
Men’s 100-yard butterfly, John Mitchell (46.41)
Women’s 400-yard individual medley, Bailey Bonnett (4:05.62)
Women’ 400-yard medley relay (3:29.69)
Men’s 400-yard medley relay (3:07.85)
Women’s team results
Men’s team results
The final day of the conference championships is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, with preliminaries scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET and finals scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET. Fans are encouraged to visit meet central for a list of streaming and live scoring options per event.
For the latest on the Kentucky swimming and diving program, follow @UKSwimDive on Twitter and on Instagram, on Facebook and on the web at UKathletics.com.