Swimming, Diving Teams, Both No. 5, To Face Arizona, ASU

Nov. 13, 2003

USC's men's and women's swimming and diving teams open Pac-10 competition this weekend when they travel east to compete at Arizona and Arizona State. The Trojans will face the Wildcats on Friday (Nov. 14) at 1 p.m. (PST) and will compete against the Sun Devils on Saturday (Nov. 15) at 11 a.m. (PST).

Both of USC's squads are ranked No. 5 in the College Swim Coaches Association rankings as of Nov. 12. Arizona's women's team is No. 7 and its men's team is No. 10. Arizona State's women are No. 13 and its men are No. 16.

Among the top Sun Devil men's swimmers are senior All-American Nick Brunelli and butterflyer David Kolozar. Junior breaststroker Agnes Kovacs was a four-time All-American last year and leads Arizona State's women's team. Among Arizona's top women are senior All-American breaststroker Jessica Wagner and junior All-American Emily Mason. The Wildcat men are led by senior All-American butterflyer Luis Rojas and senior All-American freestyler Eric La Fleur. Arizona's men and women opened their season with wins over Wisconsin. The ASU women have defeated Hawaii and Northern Arizona while the men took down UNLV.

USC's women finished third at NCAAs in 2003, its highest standing since winning the team title in 1997. The Trojan men took fifth. Both the men and women finished third at the Pac-10 Championships. Texas' men's squad was second last year at the NCAAs while its women were seventh. Stanford's women's team was sixth.

USC's women's team defeated Texas, 169-165, while the Trojan men fell to the Longhorns, 193-160. Kaitlin Sandeno led the women's team with four wins (200m and 400m IM and 100m and 200m back), posting NCAA automatic qualifying times in each race. Her winning time in the 100m back (1:00.64) set a school record. Freshman Kalyn Keller also posted two wins (400m and 1500m free), as did senior diver Nicci Fusaro. For the men, Ous Mellouli won three races (200m and 400m IM and the 200m free) while Larsen Jensen won twice (400m and 1500m free).

Kaitlin Sandeno opened the season blazing, posting four NCAA automatic times before the calendar hit November. She currently owns auto times in the 200m IM (2:13.32), 400m IM (4:39.15), 100m back (1:00.64) and the 200m back (2:11.68). Freshman Kalyn Keller owns the squad's other NCAA auto time in the 1500m free (16:14.97). No one on the men's team has posted an NCAA A cut yet, though Ous Mellouli has posted NCAA consideration times in the 200m and 400m free and the 400m IM and Larsen Jensen has done the same in the 400m free.

Kaitlin Sandeno's times in both individual medleys, converted from meters to yards, are the tops in the country according to Taper and Shave's national list of the Top 50 times. So is her 100 back time and her 200 back is second. Kalyn Keller is among the top 5 in the 500 free (converted from 400 meters). Jana Krohn (100 fly) and Margie Pedder (200 fly) are also in the top 10. For the men, Ous Mellouli is second in the 200 free, third in the 200 IM and fifth in the 500 free and 400 IM. Larsen Jensen is fourth in the 500 free

USC's women's squad returns five All-Americans off of its third-place NCAA team. Junior Kaitlin Sandeno's five All-American performances topped the team (500y free, 400y IM, 1650y free, 400y medley relay and 800y free relay) while senior Jana Krohn turned in four (100y and 200y fly, 400y medley relay and 800y free relay). Junior Margie Pedder earned All-American nods in the 1650y free and the 800y free relay while sophomore Kammy Miller earned hers on the 400y medley relay. Senior diver Nicci Fusaro finalled on the 3-meter springboard to join the group. On the men's team, three Trojans with All-American credits last year are back. Sophomore Ous Mellouli leads the trio after turning in five All-American swims last year (500y free, 400y IM, 1650y free, 400y medley relay and 800y free relay). Senior Trent Staley earned his first ever in the 800y free relay and junior diver Ray Vincent also earned his first, coming on the 10-meter platform.

USC said goodbye to some standouts last year, but have some new blood that should help the Trojans maintain their elite status. Gone is five-time NCAA title winner Erik Vendt, but in comes freshman Larsen Jensen, an American record holder who seems poised to continue the distance-swimming dominance that Vendt enjoyed the last four years. Gone is the ultra-versatile All-American Jeff Lee, but in is the likes of prep standouts Sam Masson (back and fly), Gergely Meszaros (fly and free) and Sean Sussex (free). Gone for this year is All-American breaststroker Mihaly Flaskay, but in are freshmen Joon Youm (breast) and Alton Smith (breast, free and fly). On the women's side, gone is four-year All-American Michala Kwasny, but say hi to freshman Kalyn Keller, who, like Jensen, has a chance to be among the most dominant distance swimmers in the NCAA (though teammate Kaitlin Sandeno will have something to say about that). The women will also be without the service of All-American diver Blythe Hartley (who, like Flaskay, is training for the Olympics this year) and there isn't really a replacement for her (thankfully for USC, Nicci Fusaro and Lindsay Draper remain). But in addition to Keller, freshman Cait Connealy will give the swimmers a huge boost and freshman Kristina Sieper (breast) and senior transfer Merritt Johnson (free) will also lend help.

USC's diving well features some new board jumpers that have provided a big boost. On the men's side, freshmen Michael Hilde and Kenny Jenkins have already figured prominently in dual meets this year and will provide scoring punch at the Pac-10 meet and perhaps at NCAAs. For the women, Coach Hongping Li added a pair of divers in Tory Moreno and Tiffany Linder who could also help out in dual meet competitions and the Pac-10.

Mark Schubert
USC Coach Mark Schubert is in his 12th year at Troy. He will make his seventh consecutive Olympic coaching appearance in 2004 when he directs the U.S. women's team in Athens, Greece. Three years ago, he finished a stint as head coach of the U.S. men's swim team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Since he has been at USC, the men's and women's swimming programs are a combined 133-43. 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.

Hongping Li
An NCAA champion and two-time Olympian, Hongping Li is in his fifth 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 four years at USC. In 2003, he helped guide Blythe Hartley and Nicci Fusaro to All-American showings at the NCAA Championships. Hartley was a three-time All-American for the second year in a row while Fusaro earned All-American honors for the third year in a row. Hartley, the 2002 NCAA Women's Diver of the Year, repeated as Pac-10 Women's Diver of the Year and Li repeated as Pac-10 Women's Diving Coach of the Year. In 2002, Fusaro joined with Hartley to become 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.

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