AUBURN, Ala. – Head diving coach Jeff Shaffer was named SEC Male Diving Coach of the Year, while three student-athletes earned SEC honors, the league office announced. Senior Kelly Marx was named Male Diver of the Year, Thad Ellis earned Male Freshman Diver of the Year and Jordan Anderson was named Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year.
The Auburn men picked up its SEC-record 14th-straight conference title on Saturday, defeating Florida by a mere 19 points (784-765).
The honor marks the fifth time Shaffer has been named SEC Coach of the Year, having earned the award four times as the men's coach and one as the coach of the LSU women's team. He previously won the award in 2008 after he led Marx to a title on the one-meter springboard and Dan Mazzaferro to the win on the platform. In all, his divers at Auburn have won 14 total SEC titles and nine NCAA titles.
This season, Shaffer guided all four divers to the championship round on all three boards. Marx and Ellis, along with Vennie Dantin and Anna Aguero, qualified for the finals on the one-meter, three-meter and platform. Marx came away with two titles, while Dantin won the three-meter with a school-record score of 371.65 and Aguero was second on the one-meter with a record-tying score of 320.20.
"It's very seldom when you can go to a competition and have all athletes step up and compete," Shaffer said. "I couldn't be more proud of their performances this week. They represented Auburn and themselves greatly and hopefully the meet gave us the confidence that will give us great results in the next stage of the season."
Marx won the one-meter and platform titles at the SEC Championships and aided the team in recording its 14th-straight conference title. His score of 400.90 on the one-meter set a new school mark, a record he had broken earlier in the season. Marx's total of 446.60 points on the platform was a personal-best for the senior. The SEC Male Diver of the Year honor is Marx's first of his career, but the second-consecutive for Auburn and the third in the last four years.
To add to his conference honor, Marx was also awarded the Commissioner's Trophy at the conclusion of the meet as the high male point scorer. He scored 57 total points for the Tigers.
"Going into this meet, I wanted to help lead the entire team and show everyone that diving plays a huge role in the team's overall success," Marx said. "I'm so honored to a part of Auburn and to be recognized by the conference. This is my first honor and to get the award my senior year is very special."
Ellis advanced to the finals on all three boards, coming in fifth on the one-meter and platform and eighth on the three-meter. He set personal-bests on both the one-meter and platform and combined for 39 total points for the team.
"My focus was to score points for the team because I knew it was going to be a tight finish," Ellis said. "The fact that I could contribute as much as I could as a freshman really meant a lot. Winning the award was great because after a year full of hard work, it is nice to see it all pay off."
Anderson, a senior captain for the Auburn men, was named Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. The 2009 Rhodes Scholar posted a 4.0 during the
2009 fall semester and has an overall grade-point average of 3.92.
Anderson is studying biomedical sciences with an emphasis in pre-dentistry. At the conference meet, Anderson was a part of the champion 200 medley relay and reached the championship finals in the 100 fly and 100 back.
In addition, the Tigers had 17 athletes placed on the All-SEC First Team, three to the All-SEC Second Team and five to the SEC All-Freshmen Team.
Auburn will next compete at the NCAA Championships in March. The women's will compete March 18-20 in West Lafayette, Ind., while the men's championships will be held in Columbus, Ohio, March 25-27.