Men's Swimming At No.3 Cal and No. 1 Stanford

Feb. 6, 2003

USC's No. 7 men's swimming and diving team heads north this week to take on California on Friday (Feb. 7) at 1 p.m. and Stanford on Saturday (Feb. 8) at 1 p.m. USC last beat Cal in 2000 and last beat Stanford in 1997.


USC's men's team (5-1, 2-0) is ranked No. 7 in the latest College Swim Coaches of America poll (Jan. 30) while California is No. 3 and Stanford is No. 1.


The Bears (4-0, 2-0) are led by sprinters Anthony Ervin and Duje Draganja and backstroker Alex Lim. The Cardinal (6-0, 2-0) feature All-American freestylers in Randall Bal and Markus Rogan, All-American Michael Bruce in the breaststroke and All-American medley swimmer Jayme Cramer.


Erik Vendt (as of Jan. 30) owned the fastest times in the nation in the 500y free (4:17.06), 1000y free (8:51.03) and the 400y IM (3:41.49) and is also second in the 200y breast (1:56.87). Freshman Ous Mellouli is second in the 400y IM (3:46.30), third in the 200y IM (1:47.26) and fifth in the 500y free (4:19.63). Senior Mike Gausman is fourth in the 200y fly (1:45.52). Freshman Mihaly Flaskay is fourth in the 100y breast (54.37). Junior J.D. Abercrombie is seventh in the 100y fly (48.17), sixth in the 200y fly (1:45.93). Senior Jeff Lee is eighth in the 200y fly (1:46.15). Junior Trent Staley is eighth in the 200y back (1:44.33). USC also own the top 800y free relay in the country (6:26.21).


Senior Erik Vendt owns NCAA automatic times in the 500y free (4:17.06), 1650y free (14:42.97), 400y IM (3:41.49) and the 200y breast (1:56.87). Freshman Ous Mellouli owns NCAA autos in the 500y free (4:19.63) and the 400y IM (3:46.30). Junior Trent Staley owns NCAA consideration times in the 500y free (4:22.92) and the 200y back (1:44.33). Senior Jeff Lee has NCAA consideration times in the 500y free (4:23.15), 100y fly (48.35) and the 200y fly (1:46.15). Junior J.D. Abercrombie has consideration times in the 100y fly (48.17) and the 200y fly (1:45.93). USC's 800y free relay mark of 6:26.21 is also an automatic time.


Erik Vendt, winner of the 400y IM and the 1650y free and second in the 500y free, and Jeff Lee, second in the 200y fly and fifth in the 100y fly, are USC's only returning All-Americans on the men's team.


USC's women's team earned a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, only a half of a point out of third place, and a second-place finish at the Pac-10s. The men's squad, meanwhile, took fifth at the NCAAs, five points out of fourth place, and finished fourth at the conference meet. In addition to Erik Vendt's and Blythe Hartley's NCAA titles, USC is defending a handful of Pac-10 titles. Vendt is the Pac-10 defending champ in the 500y and 1650y free while the Trojans are the defending champions of the 800y free relay. For the women, Michala Kwasny won the 400y IM, Hartley won the 1-meter while Nicci Fusaro won the 3-meter and platform.


USC Coach Mark Schubert is in his 11th year at Troy. Two years ago, he finished a stint as head coach of the U.S. men's swim team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. It was his sixth consecutive USA Olympic coaching position. Since he has been at USC, the men's and women's swimming programs are a combined 123-37. In his 33 years of coaching, Schubert has placed 28 swimmers on U.S. Olympic teams; these athletes have won 18 gold and eight silver medals, plus five world championship titles.


An NCAA champion and two-time Olympian, Hongping Li is in his fourth season coaching USC's men's and women's divers. Li, the winner of the 1998 and 1999 United States Olympic Committee's 'Diving Developmental Coach of the Year,' award, came to USC after serving as the head coach of the Mission Viejo (Calif.) Nadadores Diving Team since 1993. Li has had immediate and tremendous success in his first three years at USC. Most recently, he helped guide then-freshman Blythe Hartley to a pair of NCAA titles in 2002 and recognition as the 2002 NCAA and Pac-10 Diver of the Year. Also last year, then-sophomore Nicci Fusaro joined Hartley as USC's only two divers to earn All-American honors in all three diving specialties in one NCAA meet. In 2001, Li guided Kellie Brennan to a pair of All-American honors (and her third consecutive Pac-10 1-meter title) and Fusaro to her first All-American honor at the 2001 NCAAs. Both also reached the top three at the 2001 U.S. Indoor Championships.


Both the men's and women's team fell in hard-fought meets at Texas. The men lost to the top-ranked Longhorns, 208-143, while the women were edged on the final relay, 177-176. Erik Vendt won five events over the two-day meet (200y and 400y IM, 500y and 1650y free and 200y breast) while freshman Mihaly Flaskay scored an impressive win in the 100y breast and sophomore Ray Vincent won the 3-meter springboard. Sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno won four times (400y IM, 200y back and 500y and 1650y free) while Blythe Hartley won both springboard events.


The men's team swept Arizona (175-66) and Arizona State (139-104) while the women did the same against the Wildcats (142-101) and the Sun Devils (174-125). As has been the case in the early part of the season, senior Erik Vendt and freshman Ous Mellouli led the way for the men in the double-dual meet. Vendt won the 1000y free and the 200y breast while Mellouli won the 200y and 500y free. Senior Michala Kwasny, sophomore Kaitlin Sandeno and freshman Margie Pedder each won two races against Arizona while Kwasny and senior Asa Sandlund won twice each against Arizona State.


The men's and women's teams had little trouble with their non-conference tune-up meets against UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Bakersfield and Pacific. The men's and women's teams breezed by the Gauchos in Santa Barbara and then swept Pacific and Bakersfield in Los Angeles.

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