Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships Day Two Recap

March 2, 2006

USC senior Ous Mellouli went wire-to-wire to win the 500y freestyle for the third-straight year in the first event of day two of the Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships. From that point on, the waters of the Weyerhaueser King County Aquatic Center were controlled by the Stanford Cardinal, who won the 50 freestyle, 200 individual medley, and capped the night with a surprise win in the 200 freestyle relay.

With the second day in the books, Stanford and California have edged in front of the rest of the pack in the overall point standings. The Cardinal sit in first with 320 points followed by the Golden Bears with 265. Arizona comes in third with 191.

Leading off the evening session, Mellouli completed his three-peat in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:14.21. He went out with the lead and never surrendered it, earning his sixth career individual Pac-10 title. The 500 free has been a USC specialty lately, as a Trojan has won the event the past six years.

'It's always fun to compete here for Pac-10s. It's been a really great meet for my college career,' Mellouli said. 'I thought I had to take it out and set the pace for my own race. I knew that I had the best time and that I could win it, so I took it out pretty fast. I swam the first half in 2:04 and that's what I want to do at NCAAs. I swam pretty much the race I wanted to.'

Coming in behind Mellouli was California sophomore Dominik Meichtry with a time of 4: 15.89. Meichtry stayed on Mellouli's heels until the final 100 yards when Mellouli pulled away. Third place went to Stanford's Shaun Phillips in 4: 16.62, and Cal junior Daniel Lysaught swam 4:18.31 for fourth. The top four all achieved automatic NCAA qualifying marks.

Next up was the 200 individual medley, and the Cardinal racked up the points by claiming the top three places. Junior Hongzhe Sun led the way with a time of 1: 44.49. Freshman Nate Cass (1:44.99) and senior Mark Stephens (1:45.48) touched just ahead of Arizona junior Adam Ritter (1:45.69). 2005 champ Tobias Oriwol of Stanford led after the backstroke with a split of 22.96 but faded in the final two strokes to finish fifth overall.

For Sun, the win was his second Pac-10 individual crown, adding to his 200y backstroke win from last year. Sun, who placed third a year ago, took the lead with a breaststroke time of 24.56 that was over a second faster than any other competitor. Cass moved in front at the 150 yard mark with the field's fastest butterfly time (29.85). But Sun posted the lowest freestyle mark (24.51) to overtake his teammates. Sun, Cass, Stephens, and Ritter all achieved NCAA 'A' Standards with their swims.

'I don't consider that one of my best events, but there are certain things that I've been working on and I'm happy to have been able to put it all together, especially with my teammates right there with me,' said Sun after his win.

In the 50y freestyle, Stanford junior Ben Wildman-Tobriner edged out a pair of Golden Bears for the first individual Pac-10 title of his career. Wildman-Tobriner posted identical times of 19.26 in the finals and the prelims. Placing second was Cal senior Milorad Cavic in 19.35 seconds, while teammate William Copeland, a sophomore, placed third in 19.69. Although he was not competing in the main final, Arizona 's Simon Burnett actually posted the night's third-fastest time, swimming 19.50 to win Heat B.

Wildman-Tobriner was happy to add his name to the list of champs, and likes how he is approaching the NCAA Championships, where he was third in the 50 free last year.

'There's a lot of history if you look at past Pac-10 champions, so it's nice to be on that list for sure. I knew that if I swam what I could swim that I would probably come away with the win,' Wildman-Tobriner. 'It helps a ton knowing that I'm at this point and I can sit on a time I'm happy with for a couple weeks and then try and improve upon that at NCAAs.'

The night ended with Stanford's big win in the 200 freestyle relay. Freshman Jason Dunford led off for the Cardinal with a 19.81 split, putting his team in third place behind Arizona and Cal. Wildman-Tobriner then swam a blistering second leg, clocking in at 18.76 to put Stanford in front. Juniors Kyle Ransom and Matt Crowe then held off Cal, who closed late with the fastest third and fourth legs. Stanford's victor--in 1: 17.54--snapped a streak of three straight Pac-10 wins for the Golden Bears in the event. Afterwards, Stanford Head Coach Skip Kenney had high praise for the efforts of Ransom and Crowe.

'That was huge. We weren't expected to win. We've got a couple guys that individually don't always step up for themselves, but they always step up for the team. You can't ever recruit enough of those team guys,' Kenney said. 'They swam our third and fourth spot on that and they were unbelievable. It was an unbelievable win because this meet is going to be extremely close. It's going to go back and forth tomorrow and the next day so relay double points make a difference.'

Cal's second place team was comprised of Milorad Cavic, William Copeland, Tilly Jonas and Jernej Godec and finished less than two tenths of a second behind Stanford with a time of 1: 17.71. Arizona (Simon Burnett, Lyndon Ferns, Adam Ritter, Nicholas Nilo) placed third, clocking in at 1:18.40. The top three teams were all automatic NCAA qualifiers as well.

Competition will continue on Friday with the prelims and finals of the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, and the final of the 400 medley relay.

Team Scores Through Day Two

1. Stanford 320
2. California 265
3. Arizona 191
4. USC 165
5. Arizona State 124
6. Washington 58
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