BELMONT SHORES, Cal., FEB. 14. COACH Greg Wilson's U Cal Santa Barbara men's swim team has a pretty good championship winning streak going — 23 years to be exact.
Yes, a certain former peanut farmer from Plains, GA. was still occupying the White House the last time the Gauchos didn't win the Big West Swimming and Diving Championship or its predecessor league, the Pacific Coast Athletic Association.
And if Santa Barbara wins its 24th-straight championship here this weekend, it'll be an NCAA record for any team.
But Coach Ray Looze's University of Pacific Tigers don't intend to roll over and play dead, especially after having defeated the Gauchos in a dual meet less than a month ago.
After Day 1 of the 2002 Big West women's and men's meet at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool here, Santa Barbara leads the men's division over UOP, 265-248.5. On the ladies' side, where UCSB is defending champ and has won eight titles overall, the Gauchos lead the Tigers, 248-238.
In men's events, Santa Barbara picked up a pair of wins when Kevin Herlihy went an NCAA Division 1-consideration 4:27.21 in the 500 free, and teammate
Matt Wheeler won the 200 IM in 1:50.99 — just off the consideration cut of 1:50.34. Tigers Filip Wronski (1:51.20) and Peter Richardson (1:52.29, 1:51.98p) were second and third.
A junior, Wheeler has won the 200 IM all three of his years at UCSB. He's also won the 400 IM twice and will be gunning for a third-straight title tomorrow evening. A graduate of San Jose Leland High, Wheeler was named Big West Swimmer of the Meet as a freshman and co-Swimmer of the Meet last year.
The Tigers scored the night's other three wins, taking the 200 free relay in 1:21.01, the 50 free (Ryan Jones, 20.42) and the 400 medley relay (3:19.13), less than a second off UCSB's meet-record 3:18.22 from '94.
On the women's side, Looze's Lady Tigers won all five events, including one-two finishes in the 200 IM and 50 free.
UOP started off the proceedings with a 1:21.01 win in the 200 free relay. Then Robin Errecart went a consideration 4:51.11 to win the 500, but splashed to a pr and school-record 4:49.87 in the prelims. That swim just missed the Big West record of 4:49.50 by Nevada-Reno's Ping Luo, a former Chinese national team member, who set the mark during the 1999 championships.
Kris Willey won the 200 IM in 2:01.91, just off her pr 2:01.84 from last year. Teammate Kristy Matthews was runner-up in 2:02.62 (2:02.00p). The Big West record is 2:00.42 by Nevada-Reno's Limin Liu, a former Chinese Olympian and a World Championship gold medalist, from two seasons ago.
In the 50, Tiger Lyndsay McNamee won in 23.34 with froshwoman Heidi Schmidt a tick behind (23.35). Schmidt is among the national leaders in the 100
breast off her 1:01.16 — a Big West record — that she swam at the Speedo/U Cal Irvine Invitational in this same pool a couple of months ago.
Both McNamee and Schmidt made the NCAA consideration standard of 23.50.
The final event saw UOP blast the meet-record en route to the 400 medley relay title with its school, meet and conference-standard 3:38.87. Leading off for the Tigers, backstroker Sarah Marshall also established school, meet and conference records for the 100 with a sizzling 53.87 — an automatic NCAA cut.
– Bill Bell
2002 BIG WEST SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BELMONT PLAZA OLYMPIC POOL
BELMONT SHORES, CA., FEB. 14
25 Yd. Pool
* Conference Record
# NCAA Automatic
+ NCAA Consideration
200 FR (W) – Pacific (1:32.28)
200 FR (M) – Pacific (1:21.01)
500 Free (W) – Robin Errecart, UOP (4:51.11, 4:49.87p+)
500 Free (M) – Kevin Herlihy, UCSB (4:27.21+)
200 IM (W) – Kris Willey, UOP (2:01.91)
200 IM (M) – Matt Wheeler, UCSB (1:50.99)
50 Free (W) – Lyndsay McNamee, UOP (23.34+)
50 Free (M) – Ryan Jones, UOP (20.42)
400 MR (W) – Pacific (3:38.87*#)
400 MR (M) – Pacific (3:19.13)
UC Santa Barbara – 265.0
Pacific – 248.5
UC Irvine – 127.5
Cal Poly – 88.0
Cal St. Northridge – 64.0
UC Santa Barbara – 248.0
Pacific – 238.0
UC Irvine – 115.0
Cal St. Northridge -108.0
Cal Poly – 84.0