No. 3 Cal Ready for Pac-10 Championships

March 4, 2003

The 2002 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year senior Anthony Ervin, and Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year sophomore Duje Draganja will lead the University of California men's swimming team (6-1, 3-1) at the 2003 Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships in Long Beach, CA. The meet is Thursday through Saturday (Mar. 6-8). Swimming preliminaries begin at 11 a.m. each day with finals starting at 6 p.m.

Five of the six competing Pac-10 teams are currently ranked in the latest College Swim Coaches Association of America's Top 25 poll. Stanford is the nation's top-ranked team, while Cal remains as third-best in the country. USC is the only other conference team ranked in the Top 10, standing in eighth-place. Arizona State is ranked 15th, while Arizona is right behind in 16th place. Washington is the only unranked Pac-10 squad.

The Golden Bears are ranked No. 3 in the latest CSCAA Top 25 poll. Cal nearly recorded a perfect dual meet regular season, until a slight stumble in its final meet against Stanford Feb. 22. The 2002-03 squad won its opening meet against Pacific and then recorded two top five finishes at the Pacific Invitational (4th) and Texas Invitational (2nd). The team then reeled off five straight victories and a first-place finish at the Dallas Morning News Invitational. Cal's only setback was a tough, 173-112, loss to Bay Area rival No. 1 Stanford.

Nort Thornton, the 1999 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, is in his 29th season as the skipper of the Cal men's swimming team. Thornton, the dean of Pac-10 swimming coaches, sports a career duel meet record of 205-80 (.719). The 2002 Bears finished sixth at the NCAA Championships. Thornton led Cal to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1979 and 1980, and his teams have finished in the Top 10 nationally 23 of the 28 years he has directed the Bears.

Last year, the Bears finished second (468.5 points) to perennial Pac-10 Champion Stanford at the Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships. The Cardinal have won 20 consecutive conference championship titles. Cal returns the 2002 Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year in senior Anthony Ervin, as well as the 2002 Newcomer of the Year, sophomore Duje Draganja. The Bears return five swimmers who posted Top Five finishes at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships-Draganja, Ervin, senior captain Joe Bruckart, junior Alex Lim and sophomore Caleb Rowe. Draganja is the defending Pac-10 100 freestyle champion (43.50), while this year's team also has the 400 free relay title to uphold. The 400 free relay squad of Mattias Ohlin, Draganja, Matt Macedo and Ervin won the event in 2:51.08. Last season, Ervin finished second in the 50 free (19.43), while Bruckart placed third in the 200 free (1:35.87) and fourth in the 200 butterfly (1:45.33). Lim finished third in the 100 backstroke (46.99) and fourth in the 200 back (1:42.81). Rowe placed third in the 200 breaststroke (1:59.09) at last year's conference championship meet. Cal's relay teams were also impressive as the team's 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relays teams each placed second, while the 800 free relay team finished third.

The Bears finished sixth (271 points) at last year's NCAA Championships and came away from the elite meet with nine swimmers earning All-American honors. Ervin was Cal's only individual title winner, claiming the 100 free in a new American, NCAA, U.S. Open, pool and school record time of 41.62. One of the world's top sprinters, Ervin earned a runner-up finish in the 50 free (19.10) and helped Cal's 400 free relay team (Draganja, Ervin, Macedo, Ohlin) to a national championship title, as well. Draganja was national runner-up in the 100 free (42.22) and swam the lead-off leg in Cal's title-winning 400 free relay. Lim also earned a runner-up finish, his in the 100 back (46.05).


Sprint Free
The Bears boast three of the strongest sprinters in the nation in freshman Michael Cavic, sophomore Duje Draganja and senior Anthony Ervin. Cavic is having a fine debut seasons, leading Cal in the 50 free (19.81) and 100 fly (43.28). Draganja, the returning Pac-10 champion in the 100 free, holds the Bears' only NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 100 free this season (42.61). Ervin is a three-time defending 100 free national champion and currently ranks second on the team in the 50 free (19.87) and third in the 100 free (44.40).

Mid-to-Distance Free
Senior captain Joe Bruckart leads four swimmers who have posted NCAA consideration qualifying times in the 200 free. Bruckart has a team-best time of 1:38.47 in the 200 free, while freshmen Jens Thiele (1:38.58) and Miguel Molina (1:38.71) and Draganja (1:38.98) also have NCAA 'B' times. Molina (4:25.94) and sophomore John Dorr (4:26.87) are the only Bears to have recorded NCAA 'B' times in the 500 free.

Junior Alex Lim is Cal's top backstroker and has already posted NCAA automatic times in the 100 (47.74) and 200 back (1:43.93). Last season, Lim set a new school record in the 100 back, swimming a 46.05 in a runner-up finish at the 2002 NCAA Championships. Cavic is also a proficient backstroker and holds Cal's second-best time of the season in the 100 back (48.05). In addition to swimming freestyle, Thiele can also perform in the backstroke events. Along with Cavic and sophomore Jeff Natalizio (49.11), Thiele holds an NCAA consideration time and Cal's third-best time in the 100 back (48.75). Lim is the only Bear with an automatic time in the 200 back, and Natalizio is the only Bear with a 'B' time in the 200 back (1:47.30).

Sophomore Caleb Rowe was an NCAA Championships qualifier in the breaststroke events as a freshman last year. This season, Rowe currently has NCAA consideration times in both the 100 (55.76) and 200 breast (2:00.50). Freshman Rick Barbosa shares Rowe's time in the 200 breast (2:00.50), and holds Cal's best time of the season in the 100 breast (54.50). The Brazilian native came to Cal as a 2002 U.S. National Champion in the 100m breast. Senior Quentin Byma is another Bear who has posted an NCAA 'B' time in the 100 breast (54.97).

In addition to boasting some of the finest sprinters in the country, Cal also excels in the butterfly events. Cavic, Lim, Draganja and Bruckart are all impressive flyers. Cavic posted the best time in the nation and set a new Spieker pool and Cal school record of 46.10 in the 100 fly versus Stanford. Cavic and Lim (46.76) are the only Bears with NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 100 fly. Draganja (47.41) and Bruckart (48.67) have posted NCAA 'B' times in the 100 fly this season. In the 200 fly, Lim leads the team with a 'B' time of 1:45.96, while Bruckart has the squad's second-best 'B' time (1:47.63) and Cavic has the team's third-best 'B' time (1:47.68).

Individual Medley
Bruckart is the team's top 200 IMer and leads a list of several Bears who have posted NCAA consideration times in the 200 IM this season. Bruckart boasts a season-best time of 1:48.41, while Lim swam a second-best 200 IM time of 1:48.89. Molina (1:49.94), Natalizio (1:50.09) and Dorr (1:50.26) have also recorded NCAA 'B' times in the 200 IM this year. In the 400 IM, Dorr has the team's top time of 3:51.68, which meets the NCAA consideration qualifying standard. Molina also meets the 'B' standard in the 400 IM with his time of 3:53.19 this season.

The Pac-10 Men's Diving Championships were held in conjunction with the women's championships last weekend in Federal Way, WA. For Cal, senior Nic Bartolotta was a third-place finisher in the one-meter competition with a score of 289.85. Bartolotta finished seventh in the three-meter event (471.75). Sophomore Nathaniel Dean also notched a seventh-place finish in the platform event with a score of 389.75.

After competing at the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, the team takes a short two-week break in preparation for the 2003 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships. Hosted by the University of Texas, the NCAA Championships are staged at the Jamail Swim Center in Austin, Texas, Mar. 27-29. The swim center has hosted various major swimming events including the 2001 World Championship Trials, 1980 and 1988 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, six NCAA Women's Championships, five NCAA Men's Championships and 18 Big-12 Conference Championships.


Automatic Times
100 Free-Duje Draganja, 42.61; Michael Cavic, 43.28.
100 Fly-Michael Cavic, 46.10; Alex Lim, 46.76.
100 Back-Alex Lim, 47.74.
200 Back-Alex Lim, 1:43.93.
200 Medley Relay-(Lim, Barbosa, Cavic, Draganja), 1:27.08.
400 medley relay-(Lim, Byma, Cavic, Draganja), 3:12.10.
400 Free Relay-(Draganja, Bruckart, Lane, Cavic), 2:52.86.

Consideration Times
50 Free-Michael Cavic, 19.81; Anthony Ervin, 19.87; Duje Draganja, 19.91.
100 Free-Anthony Ervin, 44.40.
200 Free-Joe Bruckart, 1:38.47; Jens Thiele, 1:38.58; Miguel Molina, 1:38.71; Duje Draganja, 1:38.98.
500 Free-Miguel Molina, 4:25.94; John Dorr, 4:26.87.
100 Fly-Duje Draganja, 47.41; Joe Bruckart, 48.67.
200 Fly-Alex Lim, 1:45.96; Joe Bruckart, 1:47.63; Michael Cavic, 1:47.68.
100 Back-Michael Cavic, 48.05; Jens Thiele, 48.75; Jeff Natalizio, 49.11.
200 Back-Jeff Natalizio, 1:47.30.
100 Breast-Rick Barbosa, 54.50; Quentin Byma, 54.94; Caleb Rowe, 55.76.
200 Breast-Rick Barbosa/Caleb Rowe, 2:00.50.
200 IM-Joe Bruckart, 1:48.41; Alex Lim, 1:48.89; Miguel Molina, 1:49.94; Jeff Natalizio, 1:50.09; John Dorr, 1:50.26.
400 IM-John Dorr, 3:51.68; Miguel Molina, 3:53.19.
200 Free Relay-(Cavic, Draganja, Lane, Bruckart), 1:19.60.
800 Free Relay-(Molina, Dorr, Bruckart, Thiele), 6:36.88.

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