BELMONT SHORES,CA., F4b. 16. THIS may shock and amaze ya', but the champ is on the ropes, struggling NOT to take the count.
Coach Ray Looze's University of the Pacific Tigers, seeking to do the unthinkable, are solidly ahead in both the women's and men's races going into this evening's final session of the 2002 Big West Swimming and Diving Championships.
The meet is taking place at Long Beach's fabled Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, site of the 1968 and 1976 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and the 1978 men's NCAA Championship.
The Lady Tigers hold a commanding 100-point advantage (669-569) over runner-up University of California, Santa Barbara. UCSB is defending champ and has nine titles overall since the meet's inception in 1984.
On the men's side, the Tigers lead UCSB Coach Greg Wilson's 23-time defending champs, 637.5-567. (Santa Barbara also won in '72 so its going for its 25th crown overall.) Coach Charlie Schoeber's U Cal Irvine
Anteaters are third in both races, trailing the Gauchos by 139 points on the women's side and by 158.5 on the men's.
The Lady Tigers have never won a Big West Championship while the men have a pair of titles from '73-'74. Since Looze was graduated from, USC in 1990, where he was an All-America individual medleyist and NCAA finalist for Coach Peter Daland's Trojans, he would have been what the last time UOP won, four, five years old?
In any event, the fifth-year Tiger coach has injected a new vitality into Big West swimming in general and the championship meet in particular, both of which had grown rather stale from UCSB's dominance on the men's side — and Nevada-Reno's on the women's.
UNR with its Chinese contingent of Ping Luo, Limin Liu & Co. won five-consecutive titles from '86 through Y2K but were dethroned by UCSB last season.
As was the case opening night, UOP was the big winner in terms of vicotries scored on the women's side, winning all eight swimming events, including record-setting efforts from their 200 medley and 800 free relay quintets.
In fact, UOP would likely be up by an even greater margin than its current 100 points had it not failed to score in the 3-meter diving event.
In tonight's first race, the 200 MR, the Tiger foursome of Sarah Marshall, Heidi Schmidt, Shannon Catalano and Lyndsay McNamee splashed to a 1:40.46
clocking, breaking Nevada's old mark of 1:41.62 from two years ago.
Marshall led off in a quick 25.26 and UOP was off to the races. Each one of the Tiger swimmers had either won or would win a race later tonight. The time just misses the NCAA auto cut (1:40.31) but is well within the consideration cut.
Next came the 1000 free, where junior Kristy Matthews, defending 400 IM champ, shattered the meet standard (10:22.72 from last year) with her quick 10:07.15. In fact, the top five finishers were all under the old standard with UCSB taking places three-five. (The 1000 free, however, is not an NCAA Championship event.)
In the 400 IM, sophomore Kris Willey, who won the 200 IM opening night for the second-consecutive season, just missed the meet record of 4:20.17 by Las Vegas' Mari Kasvio from 1993 with her pr 4:20.28 — well under the consideration cut.
Teammate Sarah Houck made her work, however, clocking a pr 4:20.92 for the silver and also making the consideration cut, as did UCSB's Krisel Haesler (4:23.82).
Soph Catalano, who as a froshwoman was a triple gold-medalist (both flys, 200 free) defended her 100 fly title with a 53.70 win, going a pr and school-record 53.59 in the prelims. Marshall, who held the old Tiger record (53.87 from last year's NCAAs) was second in 53.99, and both made the NCAA auto cut of 54.54.
Sophomore Robin Errecart, 500 free champ for the second-consecutive year and winner of last year's 100 free too, moved to the 200 free tonight and won going away, 1:48.57 to Catalano's 1:50.62. Of course, the latter had just won the 100 fly a couple of races earlier!
In any event, Errecart's swim is second-quickest in Big West history, just off the meet-record of 1:48.49 by Nevada's Lise Macke from 1997.
Not to be outdone, froshwoman Schmidt was next to set a record with her 1:01.31 100 breast win, still just shy of her pr and school-record 1:01.16 from the Speedo/UCI Invitational here in Dec. 1. The old meet record was a 1:02.48 by CSUN's Lisa Andrade from last year.
Schmidt will likely be seeded among the Top 10 at NCAAs and could turn more than a few heads come the third weekend of March in Austin.
Marshall followed with an easy 54.67 100 back win, breaking Nevada's Suzy Catterson's old meet record of 55.12 from 1999. However, her time is not quite as good as her 53.8 leadoff split in the 400 medley relay last evening.
Also just a sophomore, she has the potential to score big at NCAAs.
Irvine's Tiffany Bradford scored the Anteaters' initial victory with her 392.16 triumph on the 3-meter board. CSUN's Lish Davis was a close second (390.75).
The final race of tne night, the 800 free relay, saw the foursome of Matthews, Marissa Taylor, Lilla Avilla and Errecat race to a Big West-record 7:25.78-7:33.83 win over the Gauchos. The old record: 7:26.39 by UCSB from 1989. The winners' time makes the NCAA consideration cut by nearly three seconds.
* * * * *
While the men's race is considerably closer than the women's, UOP continues to win the majority of the races. Tonight the Tigers won five of eight, including a record-setting 1:30.99 200 medley relay team.
Other No. 1s included Will McLaughlin's 48.66 100 fly, Filip Wronski's 56.14 100 breast and Ryan Jones 50.14 100 back, plus their 800 relay quarter(6:39.70).
McLaughlin's fly win was just three tenths off the meet-record of 48.31 by Las Vegas' Bart Pippinger from 1990, and is within NCAA consideration time.
Wronski's breast victory came at the expense of UCSB defending champ Ethan Hall, who was third behind UC Irvine's Atila Szilagyi (56.80-57.12).
The Gauchos won a pair of races when Matt Wheeler took the 400 IM (3:54.70) and Kevin Herlihy won the 200 free (1:38.65). Wheeler's win, his third-straight, was done in 3:54.70, off the consideration cut of 3:54.10 and well off his meet-record 3:49.88 from last
season. He didn't make consideration in winning the 200 IM last night either.
However, Wheeler is one of only a handful of swimmers (all men) who've won a pair of events at least three years running and the Gaucho junior has a shot at going four-for-four in the IMs next year.
Cal. State Long Beach's Pat Stanton, then coached by Jon Urbancek (now head man at Michigan), won both IMs from '77 through '80 — the only man to do so in the meet's 33-year-history. Santa Barbara's Carl Larsen also won the 400 IM from '96 through '99 and holds the Big West all-time record with his 3:48.88 from the '99 NCAAs.
Former Anteater Brian Pajer won the 100-200 breast four years running but took a break during the '87-'88 season to train for the Olympic Trials, then came back as a junior the next season. Pajer is now head coach of the Irvine Aquazots, which feature, among others,
IMer Kristen Caverly, the top public high-school breaststroker-medleyist last season and who will attend Stanford starting this fall.
— Bill Bell
2002 BIG WEST SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BELMONT PLAZA OLYMPIC POOL
BELMONT SHORES, CA.,
Day Two: FEB. 15
25 Yd. Pool
* Meet Record
# NCAA Automatic
+ NCAA Consideration
TEAM STANDINGS (END OF DAY 2)
1. Pacific 669
2. UC Santa Barbara 569
3. UC Irvine 420
4. Cal. St. North. 277
5. Cal Poly (SLO) 245
1. UOP 637.5
2. UC Santa Barbara 567
3. UC Irvine 408.5
4. Cal Poly (SLO) 309
5. Cal. St. North. 221
WOMEN'S 200 YD MEDLEY RELAY
1. UOP, 1:40.46*+
(Sarah Marshall, Heidi Schmidt, Shannon Catalino, Lyndee McNamee)
2. UCSB, 1:44.42
3. UCI, 1:47.10
MEN'S 200 YD MEDLEY RELAY
1. YOP, 1:30.99*
(J. Cruza, F. Wronski, W. McLaughlin, R. James)
2. UCSB, 1:32.65
3. UCI, 1:33.43
WOMEN'S 1000 YD FREESTYLE
1. Kristy Mathews, UOP 10:07.05*
2. Alexis Sheridan, UCI 10:08.94
3. Emily Murad, UCSB 10:16.22
MEN'S 1000 YD FREESTYLE
1. Eric Koch, UCSB 9:17.33
WOMEN'S 400 YD IND. MEDLEY
1. Kris Willey, UOP 4:20.28+
2. Sarah Houck, UOP 4:20.92+
3. Kristel Haesler, UCSB 4:23.82+
MEN'S 400 YD IND. MEDLEY
1. Matt Wheeler, UCSB 3:54.70
(Note: third-consecutive win)
2. Kevin Olson, UCI 3:59.05
3. Shaun Crossman, UCSB 3:59.62
WOMEN'S 100 YD BUTTERFLY
1. Shannon Catalano, UOP 53.70+
2. Sarah Marshall, UOP 53.99+
3. Mary Thomas, Cal Poly 56.86
MEN'S 100 YD BUTTERFLY
Will McLaughlin, UOP 48.66+
TGodd Schwendinger, UOP 49.48
Peter Richardson, UOP 49.71
WOMEN'S 200 YD FREESTYLE
1. Robin Errecart, UOP 1:48.57+
2. S. Catalano, UOP 1:50.62+
3. Romina Mosquera, SB 1:51.69
MEN'S 200 YD FREESTYLE
Kevin Herlihy, UCSB 1:38.65
Danny Johnson, UOP 1:39.25
MattMills, UOP 1:40.06
WOMEN'S 100 YD BREASTSTROKE
1. Heidi Schmidt, UOP 1:01.32*#
2. Sara Showalter, UCI 1:05.24
3. Pam Wong, UCSB, 1:05.32
MEN'S 100 YD BREASTSTROKE
1. Filip Wronski, UOP 56.14
2. Atila Szilagyi, UCI 56.80
3. Ethan Hall, UCSB 57.12
WOMEN'S 100 YD BACKSTROKE
1. Sarah Marshall, UOP 54.67#
2. Julia King, UCSB 55.41+
3. L. Dalanzo, UCSB 55.67+
MEN'S 100 YD BACKSTROKE
1. Ryan Jones, UOP 50.14
2. Gonzo Shirmura, UCI 50.31
3. Jarrod Cruzat, UOP 50.46
WOMEN'S 3-METER DIVING
1. Tiff. Bradford, UCI 392.15
2. Lish Davis, CSUN 390.75
3. Mel. Milmine, UCI 383.25
MEN'S 3-METER DIVING
1. Marc Milligan, CSUN 446.45
2. Blair Roberts, UCI 392.60
3. Evan Mitchell, UCI 387.65
WOMEN'S 800 YD FREESTYLE RELAY
1. UOP 7:25.78*+
(Kristy Mathews,Marissa Taylor, L. Avilla, Robin Errecart)
2. UCSB 7:33.83
3. Cal Poly (SLO) 7:48.57
MEN'S 800 YD FREESTYLE RELAY
1. UOP 6:39.79
2. UCSB 6:41.87
3. UC Irvine 6:54.00