BELMONT SHORES, Cal., March 2. IT'S a long ways from the corn fields of northern Iowa to the sprawling suburbia of post-modern Stockton, but Danny May has made the transition quite nicely.
May, coach of the women's and men's swim and diving teams at Stockton's University of the Pacific, guided the Tigers to their second-consecutive Big West women's and men's Championship in a meet that concluded Friday evening (Feb. 28) here at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
May took over the reins of the UOP program last spring from former USC All-America Ray Looze, who left Stockton to take up the challenge of rebuilding Indiana's once eminently successful, but now fallen-on-hard-times men's program.
May came to Stockton from Northern Iowa and didn't miss a beat in his inaugural season at the Tiger helm. UOP defended its Big West titles in impressive fashion, winning the women’s crown with 935 points, 159 more than second place Univ. California Santa Barbara. The men’s team finished with 896.5 points, a margin of 105 over the second place Gauchos.
Pacific swimmers Matt Smart, a native of Stockton who took off last year to study abroad but came back for his senior season and won a pair of individual golds here; plus teammate Shannon Catalano, a native of just down-the-road Fresno, were named Big West Conference Swimmers of the Year.
Smart won the 100-200 frees, was runner-up to teammate Vince Martinez in the 50 and swam on the Tigers' winning 400 medley/400-800 free relays. (He also won the 200 free Big West title two seasons ago.)
Catalano, a junior, won a pair of individual golds too (defending her fly titles from last year) making NCAA auto cuts in both, and was a member of the Tigers' victorious 200-400 medley relay foursomes.
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The UOP women won five events Friday. Catalano splashed to the 200 fly gold medal with her automatic 1:58.77, just .04 off her pr from last season's championships.
Froshwoman Laura McDonald won the 1650 free with a “B” cut 16.37.68, giving her a trio of golds for her first collegiate title meet. She also collected No. 1s in the 500-1000 frees, setting a meet record in the latter Friday evening.
Tiger sophomore Lyndsay McNamee won the 100 free with a “B” qualifier 50.25, followed by Santa Barbara's Julia King, who also took a silver in the 100 backstroke. In the 200 breast, UOP sophomore Heidi Schmidt was first with a “B” qualifying time of 2:15.30, adding to the golds she had already won in the 100 breast and the medley relays
The only race the Tiger ladies didn't collect a No. 1 in was the 200 back, which went to UCSB's 100 champ, Lindsey DeLonzo, who clocked a pr and Gaucho record 1:58.32 for the title ("B" cut).
Pacific finished its evening's "work" with a first in the 400 free relay, with a “B” qualifier 3:20.94.
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The Pacific men’s team similarly took firsts in five events, with sophomore JP Russell defending his 200 back title (1:48.33). That gold went along nicely with his gold from the 500 free opening night.
Smart next won the 100 free with a “B” qualifying 44.06, senior Filip Wronski defended his 200 breast title with a "B" cut 2:00.33 and junior Matt Mills won the 200 fly (1:49.30 to UCSB's Shaun Grossman's 1:49.77).
Santa Barbara's Eric Koch was the Guachos' lone winner, taking the 1650 free in 15:37.40 for his second victory. He won the 1000 free the previous eve. He also took a silver in the 500.
The Tigers concluded the competition with a first in the 400 free relay, clocking a “B” qualifying 2:59.13.
Looze left the cubbard well-stocked upon his departure a year ago and it will be interesting to see how well May adapts to recruiting in the fiercely competitive Golden State, where more world-class athletes reside than just about the rest of the other 49 combined — thank you very much Florida, Arizona and Texas!
– Bill Bell .
BIG WEST WOMEN'S & MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BELMONT PLAZA OLYMPIC POOL
BELMONTSHORES, CA., FEB. 28, 2003
25 YD. POOL
FINAL TEAM SCORES
UC Irvine 714.0
Cal Poly 384.0
UC Irvine 625.0
Cal Poly 437.0
BIG WEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS