NCAA Div. I Women: Divers Lead Stanford to 154-146 Nail-Biter Over Cal

BERKELEY, Cal., February 15. HAS Stanford developed a "secret weapon" who can challenge Natalie Coughlin's 100 butterfly supremacy?

Well, not exactly, but Cardinal Tara Kirk — American/ NCAA record-holder in the 100-200 yard breaststrokes and defending NCAA champ in both — showed a packed house at Spieker Aquatics Complex here on the Cal campus this afternoon that she's more than "just a breaststroker."

The Stanford junior had another superb afternoon, winning the 100-200 breast races and also finishing runner-up to Coughlin in the 100 fly.

Her time for her "off" event, while certainly a seasonal and perhaps even career pr (55.66) likely won't give Coughlin any gray hairs. However, it's rather remarkable for someone who almost never swims this race competitively; and was intermingled with 1:00.14-2:11.01 breaststroke clockings — both just off her seasonal prs and nation-leading 59.74 – 2:09.66.

For the record, Stanford won for the 28th time in the 30-year history of "The Big Splash," racing to a 154-146 dual-meet win. No. 7 California (8-3, 4-2) put up a good battle, but No. 8 Stanford (8-2, 4-1) prevailed — as per usual.

Cardinal coach Richard Quick, who hied himself to The Farm in the fall of 1988 after a stint at Texas in the mid-'80s that saw him win five-consecutive NCAA Division 1 women's titles, has never lost to his Bay Area foe. In fact, one has to go back to the presidency of Gerald Ford during the '75-'76 season to find the last time Cal has defeated Stanford.

Last year at its home Avery Aquatics Complex, Stanford won 1:59.5-140.5. When the meet was last in Berkeley two seasons ago, Stanford came away No. 1, 151-149.

Cal won seven of the afternoon's 16 events, highlighted by Coughlin's triple and rookie Helen Silver's backstroke double (55.95-pr 1:58.85). Silver's made great strides after a fall period of adjustment and Cal coach Teri McKeever is hoping her prize pupil can make her presence known at the conference and NCAA Championships.

Coughlin won both flys, the 200 free and swam the fly leg on Cal's winning 400 medley relay. Her times — 52.82 – 1:55.03 for the flys and 1:49.24 for the freestyle — are among the national leaders as the dual meet season winds down.

However, she's already set American/NCAA records in the 200 free – fly at the Tiger Invitational in Auburn two months ago (only women to ever accomplish that feat); and also ranks No. 1 in the 100 fly with her 51.88 against USC here two weeks ago — fastest-ever in a dual-meet.

And speaking of "fastest-ever," Coughlin's 200 fly swim was the meet's only pool record and ranks No. 2 on the all-time dual-meet list too. No. 1? Coughlin's 1:54.55 against USC in LA last year.

The old pool/meet record was Stanford's Misty Hyman's 1:55.89 from '99. For those with short memories, 18 months after that swim Hyman stood atop the victory podium at Sydney with the Olympic 200 fly gold-medal draped around her neck.

Tara Kirk's sister Dana, a freshman for the Cardinal and the family's true butterfly specialist, took second in the 200 (1:59.67), was runner-up in the 200 free and won the 500 free (4:56.81).

The Golden Bears held a strong lead throughout the meet until the final diving event was scored. Cal just edged out Stanford 134-130 going into the final two events, the 200 IM and 400 free relay. In the former, Card Kristen Caverly won (2:00.87) to Cal's Natalie Griffith's 2:02.82. Stanford also got a third here and had its first lead, 143-140, going into the final relay.

Cal needed a win to capture the meet but it wasn't to be. Stanford swept to victory in 3:22.52 to Cal's 3:24.58, and The Big Splash title was theirs to claim for yet another year.

Stanford sophomore Lacey Boutwell, who anchored the 400 sprint relay, scored a fine double of her own, taking both freestyle sprints (23.45-50.35). In the 50 she won by .01 over Cal's Michelle Harper.

Despite the loss, Cal coach McKeever was impressed with her team's performances.

"Both teams fought really hard and every swimmer competed well. There were a lot of gutsy performances out there," she said. "Everyone can definitely walk away from this meet with their head held high."

Cal seniors who swam in their final Big Splash — and final collegiate dual-meet for the blue-and-gold — included Staciana Stitts, Harper and diver Christina Flynn. All were were honored at the beginning of the meet.

Stitts, a Sydney Olympian and Cal's top breaststroker of all-time, finished second to Kirk in both the 100 breast (1:01.53) and 200 (2:14.94). Stitts has automatically qualified for NCAAs in each and will compete against Kirk both there and at the Pac-10 Championships in two weeks.

Besides her runner-up 50 free finish, Harper placed third in the 100 free (51.90) — both seasonal prs. Flynn was Cal's best diver of the day and finished fourth in both the one-meter (254.025) and three-meter (275.175) events.

The meet's outcome might have been different had McKeever opted to swim Coughlin in the 400 free rather than 400 medley relay. But hindsight is always 110% better than foresight, and had Coughlin say anchored the sprint relay and Cal won they may well have lost the medley!

(A swimmer is limited to four events — three individual and one relay, say — or any combination thereof.)

Both schools have next weekend off and resume action Feb. 27 in Federal Way, WA. at the Pac-10 Championships. Stanford is defending titlist and has won every year save once since the meet's inception in the mid-'80s. The only non-Cardinal win was by UCLA two years ago at Belmont Plaza.

NCAAs follow three weeks later at Auburn, home of the defending national champions.

– Bill Bell


No. 9 California vs. No. 8 Stanford
February 15, 2003
Spieker Aquatics Complex
Berkeley, Calif.

Stanford 154, Cal 146

400 Medley Relay
1. California 3:41.20
(Silver, Stitts, Coughlin, Becks)
2. Stanford ‘A’ 3:46.68
(Caverly, T. Kirk, Davis, Boutwell)
3. Stanford ‘B’ 3:58.63
(Wagner, Gilbert, Daly, Ransom)

1000 Free
1. Lisa Morelli, Cal 10:03.57
2. Ashley Chandler, Cal 10:05.82
3. Evins Cameron, Stanford 10:07.63
4. Kate Tiedeman, Cal 10:08.20
5. Katy Blakemore, Stanford 10:29.11
6. Erin Glenn, Stanford 10:32.72
7. Claire Henderson, Stanford 10:38.32

200 Free
1. Natalie Coughlin, Cal 1:49.26
2. Dana Kirk, Stanford 1:50.58
3. Lauren Medina, Cal 1:50.78
4. Ashley Daly, Stanford 1:51.81
5. Tami Ransom, Stanford 1:52.19
6. Cheryl Anne Bingaman, Cal 1:53.25
7. Jessie Carr, Stanford 1:55.76

100 Back
1. Helen Silver, Cal 55.95
2. Amy Wagner, Stanford 56.46
3. Sarah Jones, Stanford 56.63
4. Kristen Caverly, Stanford 56.92
5. Megan Baumgartner, Stanford 57.87
6. Amy Ng, Cal 58.94

100 Breast
1. Tara Kirk, Stanford 1:00.14
2. Staciana Stitts, Cal 1:01.53
3. Natalie Griffith, Cal 1:04.24
4. Marcelle Miller, Cal 1:04.36
5. Kirsten Gilbert, Stanford 1:04.50
6. Emily Carter, Stanford 1:05.48
7. Gina Merlone, Cal 1:06.89
8. Tenley Bick, Stanford 1:10.33

200 Fly
1. Natalie Coughlin, Cal 1:55.03* (Pool Record)
2. Dana Kirk, Stanford 1:59.57
3. Lisa Morelli, Cal 2:02.95
4. Anna Strohl, Stanford 2:04.01
5. Laura Davis, Stanford 2:04.08
6. Jenna Rais, Cal 2:04.14
7. Flora Kong, Cal 2:07.35
8. Andrea Swaney, Stanford 2:10.38

50 Free
1. Lacey Boutwell, Stanford 23.45
2. Michelle Harper, Cal 23.46
3. Danielle Becks, Cal 23.66
4. Sarah Jones, Stanford 23.67
5. Whitney Rockwell, Cal 23.95
6. Megan Baumgartner, Stanford 24.15
7. Haley Champion, Stanford 25.13

One-Meter Diving
1. Ashlee Rosenthal, Stanford 278.55
2. Katie Berglund, Stanford 260.625
3. McKenze Murphy, Stanford 257.325
4. Christina Flynn, Cal 254.025
5. Lauren Donovan, Stanford 233.775
6. Alyson Borawski, Cal 204.375
7. Lauren Smith, Cal 189.6

100 Free
1. Lacey Boutwell, Stanford 50.35
2. Danielle Becks, Cal 51.00
3. Michelle Harper, Cal 51.90
4. Tami Ransom, Stanford 52.05
5. Keiko Amano, Cal 52.14
6. Cheryl Anne Bingaman, Cal 52.16
7. Megan Baumgartner, Stanford 52.32
8. Sarah Jones, Stanford 52.60

200 Back
1. Helen Silver, Cal 1:58.95
2. Kristen Caverly, Stanford 2:00.32
3. Amy Ng, Cal 2:02.44
4. Lisa Morelli, Cal 2:03.98
5. Ashley Daly, Stanford 2:04.25
6. Amy Wagner, Stanford 2:05.44
7. Katy Blakemore, Stanford 2:15.47

200 Breast
1. Tara Kirk, Stanford 2:11.01
2. Staciana Stitts, Cal 2:14.94
3. Marcelle Miller, Cal 2:17.41
4. Natalie Griffith, Cal 2:18.81
5. Jenna Rais, Cal 2:21.37
6. Kirsten Gilbert, Stanford 2:21.67
7. Emily Carter, Stanford 2:22.94
8. Tenley Bick, Stanford 2:28.89

500 Free
1. Dana Kirk, Stanford 4:56.01
2. Kate Tiedeman, Cal 4:56.73
3. Lauren Medina, Cal 4:59.27
4. Evins Cameron, Stanford 5:03.19
5. Ashley Chandler, Cal 5:05.18
6. Anna Strohl, Stanford 5:07.73
7. Erin Glenn, Stanford 5:08.48

100 Fly
1. Natalie Coughlin, Cal 52.82
2. Tara Kirk, Stanford 55.66
3. Laura Davis, Stanford 56.48
4. Flora Kong, Cal 57.28
5. Emma Palsson, Cal 57.58
6. Whitney Rockwell, Cal 58.10
7. Andrea Swaney, Stanford 59.57
8. Haley Champion, Stanford 59.74

Three-Meter Diving
1. Ashlee Rosenthal, Stanford 313.35
2. McKenze Murphy, Stanford 293.47
3. Lauren Donovan, Stanford 281.925
4. Christina Flynn, Cal 275.175
5. Sara Bowling, Stanford 231.825
6. Michaela Skloven, Stanford 229.5
7. Alyson Borawski, Cal 228.6
8. Lauren Smith, Cal 166.2

200 IM
1. Kristen Caverly, Stanford 2:00.87
2. Natalie Griffith, Cal 2:02.82
3. Ashley Daly, Stanford 2:04.13
4. Amy Ng, Cal 2:04.19
5. Laura Davis, Stanford 2:05.29
6. Helen Silver, Cal 2:08.27
7. Kate Tiedeman, Cal 2:08.86
8. Anna Strohl, Stanford 2:10.52

400 Free Relay
1. Stanford ‘A’ 3:22.52
(Ransom, Jones, Kirk, Boutwell)
2. California ‘A’ 3:24.48
(Becks, Bingaman, Harper, Stitts)
3. California ‘B’ 3:30.51
(Amano, Medina, Palsson, Griffith)
4. Stanford ‘B’ 3:31.00
(Baumgartner, Champion, Carr, Cameron)

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