Vendt Wins 1650y Free For Third Title Of Pac-10 Championships

March 8, 2003

Senior co-captain Erik Vendt became the first Trojan swimmer since 1977 to win three Pac-10 individual titles in the same year when he won the 1650y free and junior J.D. Abercrombie won the 200y fly for his first career title to lead USC on the final day of the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference men's swimming and diving championships at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday (March 8).

USC finished third with 619 points. Stanford took first (879), followed by Cal (730.5), USC, Arizona State (439), Arizona (392.5) and Washington (181).

Vendt broke his own school record and set a Pac-10 meet record by winning the mile in 14:35.97, 1.51 ahead of his old mark. He also won the 500y free and the 400y IM earlier in the meet, giving him seven for his career, three in the 1650 (plus one on a relay). The last Trojan swimmer to win three titles in one meet was Joe Bottom, who won the 50y and 100y free and the 100y fly in 1977. USC diver Brian Earley swept the three diving titles in 1994.

As for Abercrombie, the junior had never even reached the finals of a conference meet before this week, though he did have finals experience at the 2002 U.S. Summer Nationals. Saturday, he came from behind in the final 50 yards, making up more than half of a second on teammate Jeff Lee and Stanford's Matt McDonald to win in 1:45.04 (personal best and NCAA consideration). McDonald finished second in 1:45.09 while Lee touched for third in 1:45.26.

Freshman Ous Mellouli, second in the 400y IM, was second again to Vendt, this time in the 1650y free. He swam a 14:58.53, good for an NCAA automatic qualifying time. Freshman Mike Kauffman made his second finals appearance, taking seventh in 15:18.94, a season's best and an NCAA consideration time.

Senior David Ringe made his third straight 200y fly finals race, taking fifth (1:45.77). Senior Erik Tolmachoff, who had never reached the Pac-10 finals entering this year, swam in his third in the 200y fly, taking sixth (1:45.82). Ringe's and Tolmachoff's times were both personal bests and NCAA consideration times.

Junior Trent Staley made his third finals appearance of the meet by taking seventh in the 200y back in 1:45.58. Junior transfer Jordie Proffitt was second in the consolations of the event in 1:47.37.

USC's top finisher in the 200y breast was sophomore Paul Fahey, who was fourth in the consolation final in a season's best 2:01.29. Sophomore Mike Stoller was USC's top finisher in the 100y free, second in the bonus final in 45.32.

USC's 400y free relay team of Stoller, Lee, Flaskay and Mellouli took fifth in 2:59.98.

The Trojans will compete at the NCAA Championships March 27-29 in Austin, Texas.

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