Men's Swimming & Diving Places Fifth At Pac-10 Championships

March 9, 2002

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Arizona State's men's swimming and diving team came away from the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool with their sixth fifth-place finish in the last seven years as the three-day Pac-10 Championships concluded Saturday in Long Beach, Calif.

The seventh-ranked Sun Devils, who had gone 3-2 in Pac-10 dual meets this season picking up wins against Arizona, USC and Washington, finished the meet with 400 points, a 39.5-point improvement from last season. Stanford showed why it is the nation's top-ranked team, cruising to its 21st-straight Pac-10 title with 918 points. California placed second with 708.5 points, followed by Arizona (616.5), USC (571), ASU (400) and Washington (175). Pac-10 schools Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA do not sponsor men's swimming and diving teams.

Leading ASU in the final day of competition was sophomore Nick Brunelli, who placed third in the 100-yard freestyle with a personal-best 43.24. California's Duje Draganja won the conference event title in 42.82, ahead of runner-up Roland Shoeman of Arizona who touched the wall in 43.18. Brunelli's finals time makes him the third-fastest swimmer in ASU history, jumping past Atilla Czene (43.48, 2000) and trailing only record-holder Francisco Sanchez (42.82, 1996) and Troy Dalbey (43.03, 1991).

The Sun Devils' next-best finish in the 100y free was by junior Bobby Zaabadich, who placed 16th with a 45.17 effort from the consolation final. ASU put five athletes into the bonus final, with Gavin Meadows placing 17th (45.39), Anders Lyrbring placing 18th (45.58), Federico Martin placing 21st (45.97), Justin Mathias placing 23rd (46.09) and Bo West placing 24th (46.12).

Another final-day highlight for ASU was the 200y backstroke, where the one-two punch of Christian Harcsas and Ahmed Hussein placed fifth and seventh, respectively. Harcsas, who swam a personal best 1:44.04 in the prelims, raced even faster in finals to clock a 1:43.96, just one-tenth of a second shy of the ASU record established by David Holderbach in 1993 (1:43.86). Hussein also earned a personal best in the championship final, touching the wall in 1:44.45 to become the third-fastest swimmer in ASU history, behind only Holderbach and Harcsas. Also of note, freshman Bobby Crowder placed 13th in the event, with a personal-record time of 1:50.94.

Other individual event finals contested Saturday were in the 1650y free, 200y breaststroke and 200y butterfly. In the 1650y free, senior Mike Dowling came in at 15:48.10 to lead ASU with a 15th-place finish, while freshman Derek Miller took 17th in 16:03.20. In the 200y breast, freshman Joshua Gemmell dropped his personal best to 2:02.25 to qualify for the consolation final where he swam 2:05.70 to place 15th overall.

In the 200y fly, junior Ace Tate also gave his all-time best effort in prelims, a 1:50.13 that preceded his 1:51.51 consolation finals effort, which placed him 16th. Sophomore teammate Adam Bugledich won the bonus final in 1:50.22 to claim 17th.

In the only relay of the day, a Sun Devil team of Zaabadich, Meadows, West and Lyrbring took fifth in the 400y free relay with an effort of 2:59.33. California won the event in 2:51.08.

The 2001-02 swimming and diving season is far from over. Next up are the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in Stanford, Calif., March 14-16. Then, qualifying women's swimmers and divers will compete in the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, March 21-23. The men's NCAA swimming and diving championships wrap up the 2001-02 season from Athens, Ga., March 28-30.

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