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Women's NCAAs, Day 2: Cal Takes the 800 Free Relay as Natalie Leads Off with an NCAA Mark in the 200 Free -- March 19, 2004 Natalie Coughlin Stretching at 2004 NCAAs

By Phillip Whitten

800 meter freestyle relay
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, March 19. ARIZONA, the ninth-seeded team in the 800 free relay, tried to do what has never been done before: win the 800 free relay from the second heat – a non-championship heat.

The Cats gave it a great try. The team of Emily Mason (1:57.41), Jessica Hayes (1:59.08), Whitney Myers (1:57.67) and Melissa Johnson (2:00.11) clocked 7:54.27, breaking the NCAA and US Open mark of 7:55.51 set by an Arizona team four years ago.

But the new record did not last long.

In the final heat, in lane 2, Cal led off with – you guessed it – Superwoman. Natalie Coughlin stepped up to the plate and delivered. When she hit the pads the scoreboard read 1:55.82, a new NCAA and US Open mark.

Natalie was followed by Erin Reilly (1:57.97), with Ashley Chandler (1:58.60) third and Lauren Medina (1:58.55) anchoring. That added up to 7:50.94 and another NCAA and US Open mark.

Georgia wound up second at 7:53.32, Auburn was fourth in 7:55.50 as four teams cracked the old record.

At the end of Day 2, Auburn had lengthened its lead with 399 points. Georgia was second with 278, followed closely by Arizona with 261.

Cal is in fourth (179.5) with Florida (171) fifth, Stanford (157) sixth, UCLA (126) seventh, Texas (118) eighth, Penn State (96) ninth and Michigan (95.5) tenth.