Hartley, Soni, 400-Yard Medley Relay All Post Pac-10 Titles
Feb. 24, 2006
Senior Blythe Hartley won her Pac-10 women's record eighth career diving title, freshman Rebecca Soni won the 100-yard breaststroke for her first win and USC's 400-yard medley relay won only the school's second women's conference relay title ever on the third day of the Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday (Feb. 24).
The swimming portion of the championships are being held at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif., while the diving events are being held in Federal Way, Wash.
Arizona leads with 889 points, followed by Stanford (842), UCLA (837) and USC (761.5). The Women of Troy now have five titles so far, the fifth year in a row USC has at least four and the most since winning nine in 2003.
USC closed out an already successful day with an exciting win in the 400y medley relay as the quartet of sophomore Hayley McGregory, Soni and sophomores Emily Goetsch and Rhi Jeffrey edged Cal, 3:36.29 to 3:36.36. USC's only other Pac-10 relay title came in the 800y free relay in 2003. In this one, the Trojans broke the school record, previously 3:36.53 set at the 1999 NCAA Championships.
Hartley won the 3-meter with 387.75 for her third career Pac-10 title on the board. The crown moves her past Stanford's Eileen Richetelli (1991-95), who was tied with Hartley with seven Pac-10 wins. USC has now won seven of the past 10 Pac-10 3-meter titles.
Soni won USC's first Pac-10 100y breast title since 1994 (Kristine Quance) with a time of 1:00.10, edging rival Jessica Hardy of Cal (1:00.15) at the wall. Hardy, who held the nation's top time all year while Soni held the second fastest, led by 0.43 seconds at the halfway point. But Soni, better in the longer distance of the event than the shorter, had enough left to charge past Hardy for the win.
Soni freshman teammate Melissa McIntyre qualified fifth in prelims in 1:02.13 and finished tied for fourth in finals in a season best 1:01.38, improving on her NCAA 'A' cut. Freshman Katy Houston was 11th after a consolation finals appearance.
McGregory, who won the Big 12 title in the 100y back at Texas in 2005, finished second in 53.73, breaking her own school record after first doing it with a 53.92 in prelims. That time broke Hope Gittings's 1997 record of 54.00 (among the oldest records in yards in USC's books). McGregory came close to winning USC's first-ever 100y back title, as Arizona's Jenna Gresdal won in 53.05. In fact, McGregory's 53.98 leadoff leg on the 400y medley relay gave her three sub-54.00 backstrokes in one day after no other Trojan had previously done it.
Senior Stacy Vazhenin posted her best finish ever in the 400y IM, taking fifth in 4:19.09. This after qualifying second out of prelims in a season-best 4:18.60. Arizona's Whitney Myers won (4:14.18).
Freshman Kristen Lahey, who qualified third out of prelims, made her Pac-10 finals debut in the 100y fly, taking sixth in 54.08 (a season best). Goetsch repeated as a Pac-10 finalist in the 100y fly as well. Fourth a year ago, she finished eighth overall in 54.83 (after making the finals with an eighth-place in prelims). Stanford's Dana Kirk, an Olympic butterflyer, won in 52.29.
Jeffrey, fourth in the 50y free on Thursday, took seventh in the 200y free in 1:47.47 after qualifying fifth in prelims in 1:47.40. Freshman Rachael Waller finished 11th in a season best 1:48.46. Cal's Erin Reilly won (1:45.70) the race.
Sophomore Renee Viveros's 56.14 in prelims was a season best and enabled her to make the consolation finals, where she finished 16th overall, a best for her at Pac-10s. She was 32nd last year in the event.
Competition concludes Saturday (Feb. 25) with preliminary heats beginning at 11 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.