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Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 21. THIS morning was filled with plenty of amazing performances with quite a few breakthrough swims at the NCAA Division I Women's Championships, but California's disqualification in the 200-yard medley relay certainly stunned the field and changed the feel of the meet.
Women's 200 medley relay
After a lengthy video review, drama hit in a big way this morning as California's chances at a team title likely went up in smoke with an always costly relay disqualification. The relay takeoff pads registered a -.05 exchange between Celina Li and Cindy Tran, and video replay confirmed the infraction ending up in a huge disqualification.
Tennessee's Lauren Solernou (24.43), Molly Hannis (26.47), Harper Bruens (23.18) and Faith Johnson (21.44) put the Lady Vols in position to defend their title from last year with a 1:35.52, while Texas A&M's Kelli Benjamin (24.66), Breeja Larson (26.07), Paige Miller (23.13) and Erica Dittmer (21.97) turned in a 1:35.83 for second. The Aggies are still looking for their first relay title in program history, and have a legitimate chance this evening.
Florida's Sinead Russell (24.67), Hilda Luthersdottir (27.12), Ellese Zalewski (22.76) and Natalie Hinds (21.32) also broke 1:36 with a 1:35.96 for the third seed. Florida has won this event four times previously with wins in 1982, 1988, 1989 and 1990. Two of those were powered by superstar Dara Torres.
Stanford (1:36.23), Georgia (1:36.58), Texas (1:37.22), Virginia (1:37.31) and NC State (1:37.35) comprised the rest of the championship field. Georgia's qualification along with how strong it has been in the meet overall, likely clinched a team title defense for the Bulldogs.
Michigan (1:37.38), Missouri (1:37.46), Wisconsin (1:37.55), USC (1:37.59), Indiana (1:37.67), Arizona (1:37.71), North Carolina (1:37.76) and Penn State (1:37.91) grabbed the consolation heat transfer spots.
The disqualification has a bit of irony involved as California head coach Teri McKeever earned her first team title in 2009 due in part to a medley relay disqualification by heavily-favored Arizona in prelims.
Women's 400 IM
This evening should be a barnburner with the likes of Georgia's Melanie Margalis and Florida's Elizabeth Beisel doing battle in the distance medley. Margalis led qualifying in 4:04.13, but has a sub-4:00 to her credit with a 3:59.85 lifetime best that ranks her fifth all time.
Margalis is looking to become Georgia's first ever winner in the 400 IM, which is surprising since the Bulldogs have winners in nearly every event across the board.
Beisel, meanwhile, is the defending champion with a 4:00.49 to win in 2013. She took second this morning right behind Margalis with a 4:04.16. Beisel is another sub-4:00 swimmer with a fourth-ranked 3:58.35 to her credit. Should she win this evening, it would break a tie between Florida and Stanford for the most team titles in the event with seven each. Tracy Caulkins won the first three for the Gators from 1982-84, while Mary Wayte (1985), Julie Gorman (1988) and Allison Wagner (1995) are previous Florida winners.
Texas A&M's Sarah Henry raced her way to third in 4:04.81 and is finally looking on point after several ACL injuries derailed her first few years as an Aggie. Henry could be a surprise contender for the title this evening.
Stanford's Maya DiRado, already a winner in the 200 IM last night, qualified fourth in 4:05.08. She's the third sub-4:00 swimmer in the field with a sixth-ranked 3:59.88 lifetime best. Should she win, she'd join Michelle Griglione (1989), Janet Evans (1990), Summer Sanders (1991, 1992) and Julia Smit (2008, 2009, 2010, as Cardinal winners.
Georgia's Amber McDermott (4:06.14), Texas A&M's Cammile Adams (4:06.49), USC's Stina Gardell (4:07.11) and California's Celina Li (4:07.35) will also vie for the NCAA title.
Georgia's Hali Flickinger (4:07.39), UNC's Carolyn Blalock (4:07.46), Georgia's Nicole Vernon (4:08.83), Penn State's Gabrielle Shishkoff (4:09.45), Kansas' Chelsie Miller (4:09.64), Florida State's Julia Henkel (4:09.64), Stanford's Andie Taylor (4:10.16) and FIU's Sonia Perez Arau (4:10.27) rounded out the consolation heat field.
Women's 100 fly
Louisville's Kelsi Worrell became just the seventh swimmer ever to break 51 seconds in the 100-yard fly with a 50.95 in prelims of the sprint fly qualifying rounds. That moved her to seventh overall, just behind Elaine Breeden's 50.87. That's an amazing breakthrough swim considering she wasn't even in the top 15 all time in the event's history coming into the day. Worrell is looking to become Louisville's first women's NCAA champion.
Florida's Ellese Zalewski turned in a 51.22 to qualify second overall. She's chasing her 10th-ranked lifetime best of 51.13, and could become Florida's third 100 fly winner ever along with Tracy Caulkins (1982) and Dara Torres (1988).
Stanford's Felicia Lee just missed her lifetime best of 51.26 that ranks her 14th all time with a 51.27 to qualify third this morning. If she pulls off the victory, she'd push Stanford into a tie with California for the most 100 fly wins ever at 10 each. Jenna Johnson (1986, 1989), Janel Jorgensen (1990, 1993), Jenny Thompson (1994, 1995), Misty Hyman (1998, 1999) and Elaine Breeden (2010) are former Cardinal swimmers who have won the event.
SMU's Marne Erasmus (51.53), Princeton's Elizabeth Boyce (51.57), UCSB's Andrea Ward (51.58), California's Farida Osman (51.78) and California's Cindy Tran (51.78) also pocketed spots in the championship finale.
Penn State's Mackenzie Powers (51.85), UCLA's Ting Wen Quah (51.89), Denver's Sam Corea (51.91), UNLV's Kat Herrington (51.92), Liberty's Jess Reinhardt (52.07), Missouri's Dani Barbiea (52.15), California's Sophie Batchelor (52.24) and Minnesota's Becca Weiland (52.29) snagged the consolation heat lanes.
Women's 200 free
California's Missy Franklin kept her emotions in check and swam a reserved race even after California's hopes of a team title went up in smoke with the earlier relay disqualification, proving that she's not a typical freshman.
Franklin, who is the second-fastest swimmer all time in the event with a 1:41.40 behind Megan Romano's record of 1:41.21, looked like she was taking a bath en route to a 1:42.86 this morning. She's looking to join Conny Van Bentum (1986) and Dana Vollmer (2009) as the only Golden Bears to have won this event.
Tennessee's Lindsay Gendron had a career swim with a sizzling 1:42.99 to tie for 14th all time in the event, matching Ava Ohlgren on the all time charts. Meanwhile, Georgia's Brittany MacLean posted a third-ranked 1:43.20, but could challenge this evening after topping Franklin in the 500 free on night one. A Georgia win would tie Florida with seven wins each for the most wins in the event history at NCAAs.
Penn State's Alyson Ackman (1:43.59), Georgia's Shannon Vreeland (1:43.67), Georgia's Jordan Mattern (1:44.26), California's Caroline Piehl (1:44.30) and Texas A&M's Lili Ibanez (1:44.30) qualified fourth through eighth to make the finale.
USC's Chelsea Chenault (1:44.46), Stanford's Lia Neal (1:44.50), California's Elizabeth Pelton (1:44.70), California's Rachael Acker (1:44.84), Minnesota's Jessica Plant (1:44.86), California's Camille Cheng (1:45.07), Texas' Kelsey LeNeave (1:45.18) and UNC's Dani Siverling (1:45.34) snared ninth through 16th to earn scoring spots in the consolation field.
Women's 100 breast
UW-Milwaukee's Emily McClellan made some history this morning by going from outside the top 15 all time to becoming just the fourth swimmer ever under 58 seconds as she rocked a 57.81 in qualifying. Only Breeja Larson (57.28), Alia Atkinson (57.62) and Tara Kirk (57.77) have been faster. She nearly beat Larson's meet record of 57.63 from a year ago.
In the first head-to-head matchup of a high profile matchup between Notre Dame's Emma Reaney and Texas A&M's Larson, Reaney won the final heat 58.08 to 58.23. That's a big time lifetime best for Reaney, dropping from a 14th-ranked 58.46 to a sixth-ranked tie with Jillian Tyler.
Larson, however, owns the top time ever with a blistering 57.28. In fact, she owns six of the top seven times all time, all under 58 seconds and could join Tara Kirk, Kristy Kowal and Tracey McFarlane as three-time winners of the event with Kirk accomplishing a career sweep of the event.
USC's Kasey Carlson (59.00), Stanford's Katie Olsen (59.12), Alabama's Kayli Burchell (59.45), SMU's Tara-Lynn Nicholas (59.55) and Tennessee's Molly Hannis (59.62) also have a shot to compete for the NCAA title as championship finalists.
Missouri's Katharine Ross (59.63), Texas' Gretchen Jaques (59.65), Indiana's Bronwyn Pasloski (59.76), Texas A&M's Ashley McGregor (59.80), Georgia's Annie Zhu (59.92), Florida's Hilda Luthersdottir (59.93), Virginia Tech's Weronika Paluszek (1:00.00) and Stanford's Sarah Haase (1:00.14) will swim for team points as part of the consolation heat.
Women's 100 back
Three of the seven swimmers ever to break 51 seconds in the 100 back are all part of the championship finale with Texas A&M's Paige Miller leading the way with a 50.97 this morning. She went a 50.91 earlier this year to rank sixth all time and would like to join the likes of Breeja Larson, Cammile Adams, Julia Wilkinson and Alia Atkinson as Aggie individual title winners.
California's Cindy Tran, a two-time winner of the event in 2011 and 2012 before giving way to Rachel Bootsma in 2013, qualified second in 51.17. She's third all time in the event with a 50.31 and could join Natalie Coughlin, Lea Loveless, Betsy Mitchell, Gemma Spofforth and Sue Walsh as three time winners with Coughlin posting a career sweep.
California has won the event a record eight times with Coughlin supplying half of the wins. Marylyn Chiang (1999) is another winner alongside Tran and Bootsma. The only disappointing part of the day is that California elected to spread its swimmers out into other events instead of loading up on the 100 back. It could have been a truly epic finale with Missy Franklin (ranked 7th 50.97) and Elizabeth Pelton (ranked 11th 51.26) taking part as well.
Stanford's Felicia Lee qualified third in 51.39, just off her 12th-ranked lifetime best of 51.29. She could win Stanford's seventh title ever in the event, joining Lea Loveless (1992, 1993, 1994), Jessica Tong (1996) and Catherine Fox (1997, 1998) in the annals of Stanford lore.
Virginia's Courtney Bartholomew, another sub-51 with a 50.73 to her credit, qualified fourth in 51.66.
FGCU's Kira Toussaint (51.75), California's Melanie Klaren (51.82), Indiana's Brooklyn Snodgrass (51.87) and Auburn's Emily Bos (51.92) finished fifth through eighth to make the A final.
Florida's Sinead Russell (51.95), Georgia's Olivia Smoliga (52.02), Michigan's Alex Deloof (52.15), Auburn's Jillian Vitarius (52.17), Texas' Lily Moldenhauer (52.25), Florida State's Mckayla Lightbourn (52.39) and California's Rachel Bootsma (52.56) qualified ninth through 15th. Bootsma's swim is particularly surprising considering she's the second-ranked swimmer all time with a 50.13.
San Diego State's Anika Apostalon set up an epic third swimoff of the meet already by tying Denver's Sam Corea with matching 52.64s. She won a pair of swimoffs yesterday in a single swim by beating Ellen Lobb for a 50 free spot as the 200 free relay leadoff, which went on to beat Indiana for the 16th spot. Apostalon went on to win again to make the B final.
Women's 800 free relay
UCLA led the first two heats of the timed final event as Ting Wen Quah (1:45.30), Anna Senko (1:46.10), Kathryn Murphy (1:47.45) and Noelle Tarazona (1:47.64) set the time to beat for the final two heats taking place during finals this evening. Purdue (7:08.34) and LSU (7:08.61) placed second and third in the early heats.
Women's three-meter diving
Zhang Kaixuan is looking to join Wendy Lucero as the only NCAA titlists in Southern Illinois history after tallying 389.20 to top the three-meter event this afternoon. Lucero won the event back in 1985, the only victory for SIU in the program's history.
Texas' Maren Taylor placed second with 368.70 points, while Purdue's Michelle Cabassol qualified third with 360.90. Massachusetts' Michaela Butler snared fourth overall with 360.65 points, while one-meter winner Laura Ryan is in position to double Georgia's diving title total with a fifth-place 359.85 tally.
Illinois State's Zhang Wenting (352.30), Kentucky's Christa Cabot (350.35) and Texas' Emma Ivory-Ganja (344.70) will also dive for the national title this evening.
Virginia Tech's Kayla Arnett (341.35), Minnesota's Maggie Keefer (338.55), Texas' Samantha Bromberg (335.05), USC's Haley Ishimatsu (334.80), LSU's Cassie Weil (333.70), Arizona State's Hailey Casper (332.10), Nevada's En-tien Huang (328.20) and Tennessee's Tori Lamp (327.15) will dive shortly after prelims for the consolation finale.
Results: NCAA Division I Women's Championships: Day Two Prelims