FEDERAL WAY, Washington, February 28. WITH the dark cloud that is the investigation and suspension of Utah head coach Greg Winslow hovering over the Pacific 12 Women's Championships, it is understandable that some swimmers might have a hard time getting fully focused on the meet tonight.
However, the swimmers who made it back for finals tonight gave it their all as they tried to break out of what wound up being an all-consuming controversy this morning as everyone on deck had the same topic of conversation — the allegations.
Southern California's Haley Anderson had the first crack and waking up the crowd and participants alike, as she raced to victory in the 500-yard free with a 4:38.79. That might have been more than two seconds off her meet record from a year ago, but the Olympian definitely gave everyone something else to finally think about. Arizona super frosh Bonnie Brandon took second in 4:38.93, while Arizona State's Cassie Morrice touched third in 4:41.32.
The two-time defending NCAA champions made their move in the 200-yard IM as California's Elizabeth Pelton and Caitlin Leverenz went 1-2 in the event. Pelton charged to the wall in 1:54.29 for the win, and an NCAA A cut. She built a lead heading into the breaststroke leg, with Leverenz powering right by in her pet stroke, before Pelton returned fire in the freestyle. Leverenz wound up second in 1:54.31, losing by just a fingernail. Pelton split the race 25.20, 28.33, 34.12, 26.64. Meanwhile, Leverenz split it 25.30, 29.26, 32.05, 27.70. The two will definitely battle at NCAAs as well, with Leverenz looking to defend her NCAA record of 1:51.77. USC's Stina Gardell (1:55.04) and Stanford's Maya Dirado (1:55.44) earned third and fourth as both cleared the NCAA A cut time.
Arizona's Margo Geer produced the only NCAA A cut of the day in the 50-yard free with a 21.78 for the win. Stanford's Maddy Schaefer touched second in 22.12, while USC's Kasey Carlson and California's Kaylin Bing tied for third with 22.22s.
Geer followed that up with another win in the 200 free relay as the Wildcats took home that relay crown. Geer (22.00), Kait Flederbach (21.95), Megan Lafferty (21.84) and Alana Pazevic (22.14) won the race in 1:27.93, just half-a-second off U of A's 2009 meet record of 1:27.47. USC's Kasey Carlson (22.25), Jasmine Tosky (22.28), Kendyl Stewart (22.19) and Katarzyna Wilk (21.78) finished second in 1:28.50, while California's Kaylin Bing (22.32), Cindy Tran (22.50), Rachel Bootsma (21.57) and Elizabeth Pelton (22.40) wound up third in 1:28.79. Stanford's Maddy Schaefer (22.17), Alex Whitford (22.32), Julia Ama (22.64) and Andi Murez (21.73) also cleared the NCAA A cut with a fourth-place 1:28.86.
Stanford's Stephanie Phipps won the women's three-meter diving competition with 345.20 points. Arizona's Samantha Pickens took second with 344.60 points, while UCLA's Emma Ivory-Ganja finished third with 327.50 points.
Southern California 454.5
Arizona State 308
Oregon State 158
Washington State 54