Huskies Finish Big Weekend on High Note
Dec. 6, 2008
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - One of the most successful weekends in University of Washington swimming history came to a close Saturday night at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, where Husky swimmers broke eight school records en route to a second-place finish for the women and a fourth-place finish for the men in the 60th annual Husky Invitational.
The UW men saw six records fall, three of which were broken by senior Scott Spansail who broke two records in a single race Saturday and also captured the second-fastest time in the country in the 1650 free to automatically qualify for the 2009 NCAA Championships in March. He is the first Husky to qualify this season and the first male in head coach Whitney Hite's three years to earn an automatic berth.
Spansail (San Clemente, Calif.) electrified the crowd - along with his teammates and coaches - in the first race of the night session, starting the 1650 free with a 1000 split of 8:54.25, setting a new school record which had been held by Jay Benner since the 1986 Husky Invitational. Spansail broke the oldest standing UW record on Thursday, breaking a 500 free record that had stood for 33 years.
The senior stayed on his record-setting pace through the end, touching the wall at 14:41.98, breaking his previous school record of 15:08.09, which he had set two weeks ago in the Texas A&M Invite. He smashed that record to earn a berth in March's NCAA Championships.
Overall, the men produced nine NCAA B times, one automatic time and six school records. The women had 14 B times - including four in relays - and set two school records over the three days. Besides the three records set by Spansail, fellow seniors Evan Bernier (Woodinville, Wash.) and Jon Banker (Canon City, Calif.) set records in the 100 and 200 back, respectively, and the men's 800 free relay set a new record. For the women, senior Genevieve Patterson (Vancouver, Wash.) set a record in the 100 breast while junior All-American Erin Campbell (Chandler, Ariz.) moved up to the top spot in the 200 back.
As a team, the 24th-ranked UW women finished second out of 12 teams, with No. 11 USC winning the meet with 1,418 points compared to UW's 1,333. The men placed fourth out of 10 teams, with No. 3 Cal finishing first with 1,442, USC finishing second with 1,315 and UC Santa Barbara taking third with 1,077.5. UW scored 1,006 points.
'We were a little bit flat this morning but I think part of that is where we are,' Hite said. 'We're not 100 percent fully rested, we're about half way, and that's what you get. You get sluggish. But they stepped up and Scott's school record and second-fastest time in the country, I told him that is one of the greatest performances I've seen and I've seen a lot. It's a truly great, great performance for him and our school and our team. And certainly it feels good to have at least one guy go to NCAAs. It's nice. I think we had a lot of good swims. Erin Campbell and Petra Radovic continued to swim well.
'Fast swimming is contagious. We kind of got fired up and when one person does it, then the next do it and it snowballs.'
Banker (Canon City, Calif.) set the school record in the prelims of the 200 back on Saturday morning, qualifying first in 1:45.49. That time beat his previous career-best of 1:47.21 and was more than a second faster than the previous school record of 1:46.75 set by Henry Hudson last season at the Pac-10 Championships. He went on to finish second in the finals in 1:46.05.
Spansail also swam a personal best in the 200 back, getting clocked at 1:47.80, breaking his previous best time of 1:48.91 which he swam his freshman season in the 2005 Husky Invitational. Spansail qualified seventh for the finals with sixth-fastest time in UW history.
Banker also swam well in the 200 fly, qualifying third in a personal-best time of 1:47.85, which ranks as the fifth-fastest time in school history.
In the men's 100 free, Bernier posted an NCAA B time in the prelims and just missed a school record in the process. Already No. 2 in the record books coming in, Bernier improved on his career-best with a time of 43.61, falling just .13 shy of the school record.
In a thrilling 100 free final, local product and Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.) of Cal won the race in 41.83, the fastest time in the country this season. Bernier finished third in 43.73 while UW junior David Bai (Kent, Wash.) finished seventh in a personal best time of 44.79 to move up one spot to No. 7 all time.
Sophomore Andre Blyth (Englewood, Colo.) won the 200 fly for the Huskies in a season-best time of 1:46.71. Blyth holds the school record in the event with a time of 1:46.01. Junior Erez Fern (Herzelia, Israel) was third in 1:47.58.
For the women, the Campbell improved her own school-record time in the 200 back and earned a B time, winning the final in a time of 1:55.08 to better her previous time of 1:56. 37. Freshman Hannah Ross (Pocatello, Idaho) finished fourth in the event in 1:59.03 to move into No. 2 all time behind Campbell. Her time was .09 faster than Ariana Kukors' mark last season. Senior Liz Johnson (Rocklin, Calif.) set a personal-best with a 2:01.01 to finish ninth and stay at No. 7 all time in the record books. In the C final, freshman Danielle Gong (Campbell, Calif.) won in a time of 2:01.63 to move into No. 8 all time.
In the women's 100 free, UW's senior Lindsey Sharp (Lafayette, Calif.) finished fifth in the A final but it was freshman Amelia Messegee (Centralia, Wash.) who took over the top spot in that event for UW this season, winning the B final in 50.62, the eighth-fastest time in UW history.
The women's 1650 free was also exciting as junior Petra Radovic (Zagreb, Croatia) finished second in 16:27.43, the second-fastest time in UW history and an NCAA B time. Radovic came into the race with a personal-best of 16:51.56. Sophomore Ashley Daly (Seattle) was right behind Radovic in third in a personal-best time of 16:34.11 which is now No. 4 all time.
In the 200 breast finals, junior Jen Gong (Campbell, Calif.) won the B final in a personal-best time of 2:18.21, moving into No. 9 all time.
Oregon State's Saori Haraguchi, a 2008 Olympian for Japan, won the 100 breast in a time of 1:54.88, the fastest time in the country this season.
In one of the final races of the night, the UW women's 400 free relay swam a B time of 3:20.33, led by Campbell, Messegee, Flynn and Sharp. UW now has B cuts in four of the five relays, all set this weekend. Campbell's 100 split of 49.79 also establish a new career best and vaulted her up to No. 3 all time.
'We go back to work now,' Hite said. 'This is basically the halfway point of the season and we're going to work really hard for the next two months and start fine-tuning. We're definitely gong to be worker bees for next two months. Overall, it was a good meet for us, not prefect, but it's we're getting there.'
The Huskies will take nearly a month off before returning to the pool in the New Year, traveling to Tucson, Ariz., to take on defending national champion Arizona on Jan. 2, followed by a dual meet against Arizona State on Jan. 3. UW's next home meet is Jan. 17 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center when they take on Minnesota.