USC Takes On Host UCLA With Gauntlet Points On The Line

Feb. 14, 2008

The No. 25 USC women's swimming and diving team (4-5, 1-5) completes its Pac-10 Conference dual meet schedule with its annual clash against rival No. 15 UCLA (4-3, 2-4) in Westwood on Friday (Feb. 15) at noon.

The Women of Troy hold a 17-16 edge against the Bruins. USC won a series-best 10 in a row from 1994 to 2003. Troy last won in 2006 at UCLA. Last season at USC, the Bruins took home the dual meet victory. The meet came down to the wire with UCLA winning the competition in the meet's final relay.

The winner of this weekend's dual meet will earn five points toward their school's Lexus Gauntlet total. Currently, USC holds a 40-12.5 lead, but there are still many of cross-town competitions left in the year. The Lexus Gauntlet is a season-long competition between USC and UCLA in all sports. Points are awarded to the winner of each Bruin-Trojan head-to-head contest throughout the year and the Lexus Gauntlet trophy is awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. In six years of the competition, UCLA and USC have alternated winning the Lexus Gauntlet trophy. The Bruins captured the rivalry's crown jewel in 2003, again in 2005 and in 2007. The Trojans won the challenge in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

The USC women's team has broken three school records this season and one USC pool record. Two team records are from junior Rebecca Soni, who at the 2007 Husky Invite reset her own USC mark in the 200y breast in an NCAA-record effort of 2:07.08. She later dropped the school mark in the 100m breast to 1:07.29. Soni's NCAA record broke Tara Kirk's mark of 2:07.13 set at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships and her time is the second fastest ever in the race, behind only Kirk's 2:05.73 at the 2006 American Short Course Championships.

At the same meet, junior Kristen Lahey won the 100y back in 53.04, shattering USC's school record of 53.48 set by Haley McGregory. Lahey's time ties her with Misty Hyman as the 21st fastest woman ever in the race.

Against California on Feb. 1, the USC relay quartet of Lahey, Soni, senior Emily Goetsch and junior Rachael Waller lowered the McDonald's Stadium pool record in the 400y medley relay to 3:40.16. The previous mark was 3.40.98, set in 1998 by Katie Meyer, Kristen MacGregor, Karen Campbell and Lindsay Benko.

Women of Troy swimmers have turned in numerous NCAA automatic qualifying times this season, including Soni in the 100y (1:00.40) and 200y breast (2:07.08) and in the 400y IM (4:15.45), junior Katy Houston in the 100y (1:01.65) and 200y breast (2:12.51), senior Whitney Hentzen in the 500y free (4:44.19), senior Emily Goetsch in the 100y (53.37) and 200y fly (1:58.77) and Lahey in the 100y back (53.04).

A number of Trojans have also posted NCAA consideration times, including junior Rachael Waller in the 100y (50.24), 200y (1:47.26) and 500y free (4:48.02) and 200y fly (2:00.12), Hentzen in the 200y (1:49.40) and 1650y free (16:24.21), senior Brittany Allen in the 500y (4:49.18) and 1650y free (16:39.09), Soni in the 200y IM (2:00.70), Houston in the 400y IM (4:22.72) and Lahey in the 100y fly (54.47) and the 200y back (1:58.44).

USC senior diver Kim Popp, sophomore Alexis Demond and freshman Christine Petrilli have all already qualified for the 2008 Zone E Championships, the qualifying meet for the 2008 NCAA Championships. Popp and Petrilli did so at the 2007 Trojan Diving Invitational while DeMond did it last week in a meet against Northern Arizona with her first career dual-meet springboard wins. Popp is a two-time NCAA Championships participant who was an individual point scorer in 2007.

Several Trojans own marks currently listed among the top 25 in the nation (through this past weekend).

Soni's 100y breast (58.54, converted) and 200y breast (2:07.08) are both top in the country and she is 23rd in the 400y IM (4:14.45); Junior Rachael Waller is 16th in the 200y free (1:47.26); Hentzen is 10th in the 500y free (4:44.19) and 15th in the 1650y free (16:24.21); Lahey is second in the 100y back (53.04); Houston is ninth in the 200y breast (2:12.51), 13th in the 100y breast (1:01.65) and 23rd in the 200y IM (2:00.23); Goetsch is 15th in the 200y fly (1:58.77) and 12th in the 100y fly (53.37).

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