LONG BEACH, CA – It came down to the last event of the meet – the 400 freestyle relay – but Stanford was able to defend its Pac-10 title for the 17th straight year, holding off California, at the 1999 Pac-10 Men’s Swimming Championships. Stanford’s final score was 748.4, just ahead of Cal’s 740.5. USC (674.0) finished third, followed by Arizona (441.0), Arizona State (428.0) and Washington (232.0).
In individual action, Arizona junior Ryk Neethling defended his Pac-10 title in the 1650 freestyle for the second year in a row in the first event of the evening. Neethling’s swim of 15:03.02 was six seconds faster than Stanford sophomore Jeremy Kane, who turned in a time of 15:09.31. Kane edged out teammate Reid Gustin, a freshman, who finished third at 15:09.47. Neethling, the two-time defending NCAA champion in the event, also won a Pac-10 title in the 500 freestyle on Thursday. Stanford’s 2-3 finish in the event put the Cardinal on top for the first time since day one, by a score of 626.5-610.5.
In the 200 backstroke, Stanford senior Tate Blahnik went out of the Pac-10 meet the way he came in in 1996. Blahnik won the event his freshman year, and did so again his senior campaign in a time of 1:42.46. He is also the defending NCAA champion in the event. Blahnik’s Stanford teammate Dan Schultz finished second at 1:44.02, barely edging out third place finisher Gordon Kozulj of Cal, who swam a time of 1:44.08.
Arizona State’s Francisco Sanchez won the next event, the 100 freestyle, after finishing second in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly earlier in the meet. Sanchez’s swim of 42.86 is a new Pac-10 meet record, surpassing the time of 43.07 swam earlier in the day by California senior Bart Kizierowski. Kizierowski finished second in the final at 42.94. Arizona freshman Roland Schoeman finished third in 43.56.
After trailing Stanford for two events, Cal retook the lead by 20 points, 674.5-654.5, following a 1-2 finish by junior Nuk Sirisanont and freshman Andrew Chan in the 200 breaststroke. The win for Sirisanont was the second of the week after taking the 400 IM crown on Friday. Sirisanont swam a 1:57.04, followed by Chan, who swam 1:58.13. Senior Blake Holden of Stanford finished third in 1:58.89.
Sophomore Phil Demers of USC claimed the title in the 200 fly with a swim of 1:45.62. Stanford sophomore’s Steven Brown and Adam Messner finished second and third. Brown turned in a time of 1:46.25, while Messner clocked a 1:46.76. With its 2-3 finish, and once the diving scores were added in, Stanford regained the lead by a mere two points – 708.5-706.5 – going into the 400 freestyle relay.
The 400 freestyle relay was just about as close as you can get, but Stanford’s anchor Dod Wales was able to out-touch Cal’s Lars Merseburg at the wall by .6 of a second. The Cardinal team of Justin Ewers, Glenn Counts, Adam Messner and Wales swam 2:53.87. Second place Cal swam 2:54.45, followed by USC at 2:55.71.