2005. 2.26 Ann Arbor News

Records set in SEC meet
Swimmers happy, but they're focusing today's finals 
Saturday, February 26, 2005 
News Sports Reporter 

The tiny symbols printed on the result sheets next to Bryan Vessels' finishing time in the 50-yard freestyle brought a miniature smile to the Dexter High School senior's face. Inside, though, a new Southeastern Conference record and a shattered Saline pool record in less than 22 seconds worth of work Friday afternoon meant little. Vessels knows, after all, his time can be faster with a better start and a better-executed flip turn. "I definitely can do better," Vessels said after Friday's preliminary round of the SEC Championships. "Tomorrow, I'll probably be feeling a lot better and drop some time. I can break a 20." Vessels, whose time of 21.33 seconds in the 50 broke both records, wasn't the only one to shatter previous top times. 

Pioneer's Sho Koba also set a new SEC mark in the 100 free, swimming 46.90 during the preliminaries while also breaking the pool record in the 200 by more than 5 seconds.
Several area swimmers turned in state-cut times Friday, but today's finals - which begin at noon - should prove to be even more impressive. 
"You swim just to get to (Saturday)," said Chelsea's Andy Kellogg, who will enter today's 100 breaststroke finals as the top seed. "(Friday's) just pace work. You've got to do your homework and know what the guys around you are going to go. But I expect to drop significant time ." 
With Pioneer's first-place conference finish all but assured, coaches view the two-day SEC championships as a state primer moreso than a run for the top. While Dexter, Saline and Chelsea will vie for a second-place finish this afternoon, coaches put more stock in the work their swimmers will get in against some quality competition. 
"This year (the quality of the conference) is keeping guys focused, and they know that every swim counts," Dexter coach Mike VanRhee said. "It's great practice for state having this type of set up with Pioneer, Saline, Chelsea and Adrian, everyone's got good swimmers on their team and (swimmers) are getting pushed. It can't do anything but help us for state." 
In addition to posting first-place finishes in six events, Pioneer also had four swimmers post four new state cuts Friday. In the 200, seniors Devin Talbot and Michael Zang both qualified for next month's Division 1 championships while David Greiner made his state cut in the 100 fly. Zang also qualified in the 500. 
And while his team will win yet another conference title, Pioneer coach Dennis Hill can sense improvement, from top to bottom, in the SEC. "I think it's a really good conference," Hill said. 

Jeff Arnold can be reached at jarnold@annarbornews.com or at (734) 994-6812.