Mellouli, Jensen, Vincent Lead USC Into NCAA Championships

March 22, 2005

The No. 9 USC men's swimming and diving team, with a host of title contenders led by junior Ous Mellouli, sophomore Larsen Jensen and senior diver Ray Vincent, competes at the 2005 Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday through Saturday (March 24-26) at the University of Minnesota. Prelim events begin each day at 12 p.m. and finals start at 7 p.m. (CST). With a well-balanced team with speed in all events as well as talent in the diving pool, USC finishes to vastly improve on its 14th-place finish in 2004.


Complete results can be found AT THIS SITE.


USC, under 13th-year head coach Mark Schubert and sixth-year head diving coach Hongping Li, has won a combined 90 individual NCAA titles and 18 relay crowns. Trojan great Erik Vendt was the last winner at the NCAA Championships, finishing first in the 500y and 1650y freestyles in 2003. Junior Ous Mellouli just missed winning NCAA titles in 2004, taking second in the 400m IM (scm) and the 1500m free (scm), and looks to take one more step up on the awards podium and become USC's 37th different title winner. Mellouli posted a lifetime best in the 500y free (4:14.66) at the Pac-10 Championships three weeks ago and will be a big factor in that event as well ... Sophomore Larsen Jensen, who missed the second half of his freshman season while training for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, will be among Mellouli's stiffest challengers in the mile. Among the world's best in the long course meters version of the race, he is improving in the short course yards event (with twice as many turns as in the longer version of the race) and will be among the favorites to win swimming's longest collegiate race ... Sophomore Mihaly Flaskay, who, like Jensen, took off 2004 to train for the Olympics, is among a handful of hopefuls for the 100y breast crown and is also strong in the 200y breast. The USC record holder in the shorter distance, Flaskay's return bolsters USC's medley relays and gives the Trojans much added scoring punch ... Another Hungarian who is coming on strong is sophomore Viktor Bodrogi, who became USC's second fastest ever in both the 200y fly (1:44.45) and the 100y back (47.53) at the 2005 Pac-10 Championships, finishing among the top four in both events at the conference meet ... Yet another sophomore swimming well is Sam Masson, whose 47.10 at the Pac-10s made him the second fastest Trojan ever in the race ... USC co-captain Paul Fahey, a 2004 NCAA finalist in the 400m IM (scm), is among USC's fastest ever in the race and looks to join Mellouli as an All-American in the race again in 2005. Fahey also hopes to do some damage in the 200y breast ... Sophomore Sean Sussex is making his NCAA debut this year. USC's top freestyler sprinter, he is looking to become the first Trojan to crack the 20.00 barrier since Gabe Woodward did it in 2001 and only the second since 1996. His 20.15 at the Pac-10s was just off his personal best of 20.13 and he could break the plateau this week. Sussex's speed will also be key USC's sprint relays ... In fact, both of USC's medley relays set school records at the Pac-10 Championships and should do big things at the NCAAs.


For the second year in a row, USC is represented by both Ray Vincent, a senior, and Michael Hilde, a sophomore, in the diving well. Vincent has been an All-American on the platform the past two seasons while Hilde was the only Trojan to score individually in three events in 2004, though he is hungry to breakthrough for his first finals appearance. Both are diving well. Hilde posted a trio of top 3 finishes at the Pac-10s while Vincent won his second career platform crown in addition to a third on 3-meter.


USC, led by junior Ous Mellouli and his titles in the 500y free and 400y IM, finished third. Senior Ray Vincent was Troy's other title winner, winning the platform. Sophomore Michael Hilde posted a pair of second-places finishes in both springboard events. Other Trojans who just missed the top podium and finished second included Viktor Bodrogi in the 200y fly (1:44.45) and Larsen Jensen in the 1650y free (14:58.30). Senior Paul Fahey was third in the 400y IM while sophomore Sam Masson was third in the 200y back.


The Trojan men got off to a strong start with a convincing win over Texas in late October, 240.5-112.5. The Trojan men won 17 of 18 events, dominating from start to finish. The Trojans followed that with a sweep of the Arizona schools in November. USC trailed the Wildcats after the first half of the two-day meet, but rallied to beat Arizona, 182-170, and also rolled past the Sun Devils, 262-91, to improve to 3-0 in dual-meet action. Troy squared off against No. 6 Michigan on Jan. 4 and suffered its only loss of the season, 145-117. Because of inclement weather, the meet was raced in USC's Physical Education Building, the first meet in the facility since 1983. A meet at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 8 was cancelled due to heavy rain, but USC did get its meet in at Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 15, a 158-108 win. The Trojans then travelled to the Bay Area schools, falling to Stanford and California.


The USC men's team returns back junior Ous Mellouli (400m IM, 1500m Free) and seniors Paul Fahey (400m IM) and Ray Vincent (platform diving). The men also return 2003 All-American breaststroker Mihaly Flaskay (who did not attend USC in 2004 while training to qualify for the Olympics in his native Hungary) and sophomore Larsen Jensen, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist who skipped the second half of the 2004 season to train for the U.S. Olympic Trials.


USC's men's Olympians are led by Larsen Jensen, who was a silver medallist in the 1500m freestyle and took fourth in the 400m free. Junior Ous Mellouli, competing for Tunisia, was a finalist in the 400m IM and raced in the 1500m free (Mellouli, in fact, recently won gold in the 400m IM and a bronze in the 200m IM at the 2004 Short Course World Championships). Viktor Bodrogi and Gergely Meszaros (both competing for Hungary) also were in Athens on the men's side.

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