Women Of Troy Set For Pac-10 Championships

Feb. 21, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- The No. 11 USC women's swimming and diving team (4-4, 2-3), led by NCAA champions Blythe Hartley and Kalyn Keller and an upstart group of underclassmen spearheaded by sophomore Rhi Jeffrey and Rebecca Soni, will seek its first ever conference crown at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships on Wednesday through Saturday (Feb. 22-25). The swimming portion of the championships will be held at Belmont Plaza, in Long Beach, Calif., starting on Wednesday, while the diving portion (both women's and men's) begins Thursday (Feb. 23) at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Wash. All-session tickets are $25 for the swimming championships ($15 for students and senior citizens). Single-session passes cost $10 and $6, respectively. Wednesday's admission is free. Swimming results will be available at the Pac-10 and at host school UCLA. Diving results will be available at the Pac-10 and at Arizona State.

Events begin on Wednesday (Feb. 22) with timed finals of the 200y medley and 800y free relays that begin at 6 p.m. From Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 23-25), prelims begin at 11 a.m. and finals start at 6 p.m. each day. Thusday's schedule features the 500y free, 200y IM, 50y free and 200y free relay. Friday features the 400y IM, 100y fly, 200y free, 100y breast, 100y back and 400y medley relay. Saturday's finale includes the 200y back, 100y free, 200y breast, 200y fly, a timed final of the 1650y free and the 400y free relay.

Events begin on Thursday (Feb. 23) with women's 1-meter prelims at 11 a.m. and men's 3-meter prelims at 2:15 p.m. Women's finals begin at 4:30 p.m. and men's finals at 5:30 p.m. On Friday, men's 1-meter starts at 11 a.m. and is followed by women's 3-meter at 1:15 p.m. Finals for the men are at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 for the women. Platform prelims for women begin at noon on Saturday, followed by the men's prelims at 2:15 p.m. Finals for women start at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m. for men.

USC has won at least three Pac-10 individual titles (including diving) for five consecutive seasons and has come away with at least one championship in 12 straight years ... Junior Kalyn Keller is the Pac-10's two-time defending champion in the 1650y free and enters with the Pac-10's fastest time this year. Kaitlin Sandeno won the 1650y free in 2003, giving Troy three straight titles in that event. Keller also won the 500y free as a freshman in 2004 and will look to reclaim that title as well ... USC hasn't won a title in the breaststroke since Kristine Quance's 1997 win in the 200y breast and hasn't won a 100y breast title since Quance swept the breaststroke events in 1994. But freshman Rebecca Soni has a good chance to end the drought. The Pac-10 is loaded with great breaststrokers, but none better than Soni over 200 yards. She owns the nation's top time in that event by more than three seconds. She's also second over 100 yards, behind only Cal freshman Jessica Hardy. Soni's fellow Trojan freshmen Missy McIntyre and Katy Houston will also vie for top 3 finishes in both races. Soni will also challenge in the 400y IM. USC has won that event five times at the Pac-10s, including four in a row from 2001-04 ... USC hasn't won a Pac-10 title in the 200y free since Lindsay Benko (now Lindsay Mintenko) in 1997 and has never won in the 50y or 100y free. Troy's best chance to end those streaks rest with sophomore Rhi Jeffrey, who owns USC's top times in each event, all of which are among the top 10 in the country ... Sophomore Emily Goetsch, a two-time Pac-10 finalist in the butterfly events in 2005, should repeat her effort again this year as USC's top butterflyer ... Kristen Lahey and Hayley McGregory have been USC's most consistent backstrokers this year, though senior Stacy Vazhenin is coming off her top meet of the year against UCLA ... USC has won only one Pac-10 relay title, coming in the 800y free relay in 2003. But the Women of Troy could add to that total. They feature two of the best medley relays in the country this year and are always strong in the 800y free relay ...Though USC has never won a Pac-10 team title, it has finished among the top 3 11 times since the first meet in 1987, including second five times.

Senior Blythe Hartley is the defending 1-meter and 3-meter springboard champion. She has six career Pac-10 titles, including three on 1-meter, two on 3-meter and one on platform. Hartley swept all three specialties in 2003. If she wins the 1-meter again, she'll become the first Pac-10 woman ever to win four 1-meter titles (though they weren't consecutive. Hartley sat out the 2004 season while training for the Canadian Olympic Trials) ... USC, in fact, has won eight of the past 10 Pac-10 titles on 1-meter and six of the past nine on 3-meter. Hartley (2003) and Nicci Fusaro (2002) are USC's only winners on platform at the Pac-10s ... On the men's side, junior Michael Hilde looks to repeat his 2004 performance as platform champion. Hilde was second on both 1-meter and 3-meter springboard in 2005 and third on platform. Fellow junior Kenny Jenkins posted top 6 finishes in each diving specialty as a sophomore in 2005. USC has won the past three platform title with Ray Vincent's 2003 and 2005 wins sandwiching Hilde's 2004 victory.

WOMEN'S TOP TIMES (From Taper & Shave)
Freshman Rebecca Soni's 2:08.54 is the top 200y breast time in the nation, an NCAA automatic qualifying time and a school record. Her time in the 100y breast (59.96) is currently second fastest in the country and is also an NCAA automatic and school record. Her time of 4:15.33 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 400y IM is fourth and her time of 2:01.83 in the 200y IM is 18th ... Sophomore Rhi Jeffrey's 1:46.26 in the 200y free is fifth fastest in the nation (NCAA `A' cut) and her 22.63 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 50y free and 49.55 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 100y free are both ninth fastest ... Junior Kalyn Keller's 16:15.05 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 1650y free is fifth, her 4:43.97 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 500y free is eighth fastest and her 1:59.07 in the 200y fly is 13th ... Freshman Kristen Lahey's 54.48 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 100y back is 11th fastest, and sophomore Hayley McGregory's 54.54 (NCAA `B' cut) is 14th ... Freshman Missy McIntyre's 1:01.50 (NCAA `A' cut) in the 100y breast is seventh fastest and her 2:14.37 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 200y breast is 12th ... Freshman Katy Houston's 1:02.50 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 100y breast is 17th and her 2:15.10 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 200y breast is 20th fastest ... Senior Kristina Sieper's 1:02.51 (NCAA `B' cut) in the 100y breast is 18th fastest ... Sophomore Emily Goetsch's 54.17 (NCAA `B' cut) is 13th fastest and her 1:58.98 in the 200y fly (NCAA `B' cut) is ninth fastest.

In addition to USC's performances among the top 20 in the nation, many Trojans have posted NCAA `B' cut' in a variety of events. They include senior Kalyn Keller (200y free, 1:48.93; 400y IM, 4:22.40; 200y back, 2:01.18), Stacy Vazhenin (500y free, 4:51.63; 200y IM, 2:03.93; 400y IM, 4:19.95; 200y back, 1:58.92), junior Cait Connealy (200y fly, 2:00.80), junior Kristina Sieper (200y breast, 2:16.50), sophomore Whitney Hentzen (500y free, 4:51.12; 1650y free 16:42.31), sophomore Brittany Allen (500y free, 4:50.69; 1650y free, 16:45.47), freshman Kristen Lahey (50y free, 23.25; 100y fly, 54.86; 200y back, 1:59.03), freshman Rachael Waller (200y free, 1:48.72), freshman Missy McIntyre (200y IM, 2:02.85) and freshman Katy Houston (200y IM, 2:02.91; 400y IM, 4:23.50).

2005-2006 SO FAR
USC opened the 2005-2006 season at the Pacific Invite in Stockton, Calif., where women's winners included Cait Connealy and freshmen Kristin Lahey and Rebecca Soni ... At the 2005 Trojan Diving Invitational (Nov. 11-12), Blythe Hartley won the 1-meter competition to lead the women ... USC opened Pac-10 competition at Arizona and Arizona State on Nov. 18 and 19, falling in Tucson to the Wildcats, but defeating the Sun Devils in Tempe the following day. Soni won three events apiece at ASU. Soni posted USC's first NCAA automatic qualifying time of the season, crushing the field in the 200y breast (2:10.95) ... On Dec. 1-3, USC competed at the Texas Invitational. Soni stole the show, winning both breaststroke events in school record times (100y breast, 1:00.35; 200y breast, 2:08.54) ... On Jan. 7, USC hosted UC Santa Barbara and Texas . The Trojans downed the Gauchos but fell to the Longhorns. Soni swept the breaststroke events and Hartley did the same on the springboard events. Connealy (200y free) and sophomore Emily Goetsch (200y fly) also posted wins ... On Jan. 14, Hartley, junior Kalyn Keller, sophomore Rhi Jeffrey and freshmen Rachael Waller and Missy McIntyre all won two races apiece in a win over Cal State Bakersfield ... The Women of Troy returned to action when it hostedCalifornia on Jan. 27 and Stanford on Jan. 28. In the 157-143 loss to the Bears, Soni lowered her school record in the 100y breast to 59.96 (defeating Cal's 100m breast world record holder Jessica Hardy) and also won the 200y breast (2:10.13). Both winning breaststroke times were pool records. Keller won three times against the Bears, posting a season-best in the 200y fly (2:00.29). In Troy's 158-142 setback against Stanford, USC's 400y free relay of Connealy, McIntyre, Waller and Jeffrey posted the school's fastest ever time in McDonald's Swim Stadium, touching in 3:22.58. Soni again swept the breaststroke events while Keller and Jeffrey won the 500y free and 200y free, respectively ... USC ended a two-year drought against UCLA on Feb. 11 by defeating the Bruins, 177-123, for its 11th win in 13 years against its crosstown rival. The win also secured five points in the Lexus Gauntlet competition, the year-long contest between USC and UCLA in all sports. Soni and Jeffrey both won three races while Keller and Hartley won twice each as the Trojans set seven UCLA pool records and set a school record in the 200y medley relay.

Like the men's team, the USC women are ready and poised to improve upon their 10th-place 2005 NCAA finish and feature four returning All-Americans. Senior Blythe Hartley won her third career NCAA title in 2005, winning the 3-meter springboard. She also won the 1-meter and platform titles in 2002. She has never finished lower than fifth in any NCAA Championship diving competition. Also in 2005, Hartley won her second career World Championships title, winning on 1-meter. She has six career Pac-10 crowns. Junior Kalyn Keller, a 2004 Olympian, was an All-American in 2005 after winning an NCAA title in the 1500m free in 2004. Junior Cait Connealy and sophomore Emily Goetsch are also returning All-Americans (both earned the honor as part of the 800y free relay). USC is without two 2005 All-Americans who finished their eligibility, Joanna Fargus (a current undergrad coach) and Marisa Kozak.

Freshman Rebecca Soni and former Trojan and current volunteer coach Kaitlin Sandeno have been selected to represent the United States at the 2006 FINA Short Course World Championships (25m), April 5-9, in Shanghai, China. In addition, USC Coach Mark Schubert will serve as an assistant coach on the women's team.

The Trojan swimming and diving teams have featured diverse rosters for years and this season is no different. Blythe Hartley on the women's team is from Canada while Head Diving Coach Hongping Li is Chinese and sophomore Renee Viveros has competed for the Mexican national team. The men's squad includes swimmers from Tunisia (Mellouli), Hungary (Viktor Bodrogi, Mihaly Flaskay and Gergely Meszaros), Italy (Vanni Mangoni), Guatemala (Evan Marcus) and South Korea (Joon Youm).

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