Soni Second Pac-10 Title
Feb. 25, 2006
Freshman Rebecca Soni broke her own school record en route to her second Pac-10 title, this time in the 200-yard breaststroke, while sophomore Rhi Jeffrey also broke her own school record in the 100-yard freestyle to highlight USC's final day of the Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday (Feb. 25).
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.
The Women of Troy won six titles, the fifth year in a row USC has at least four, the most since winning nine in 2003 and the third-most ever for USC since the Pac-10 women's meet started in 1987.
Soni was never challenged during her 200y breast title swim, swimming only against her school record time of 2:08.54. She beat it with a 2:08.16, under the previous mark set in December. Her next closest competitor was Arizona's Erin Sieper (2:12.00).
With her win, Soni became the first USC woman to win both Pac-10 breaststroke titles in the same season since Kristine Quance in 1994. Her winning time of 2:08.16 is about a second off the conference mark owned by Stanford's Tara Kirk (2:07.13).
Jeffrey reached her third freestyle final of the meet in the 100. After finishing fourth in the 50y free and seventh in the 200y free, she touched third in the 100y free in 48.94, a stroke behind winner Courtney Cashion of Arizona (48.59) and second-place Emily Silver of Cal (48.79). Jeffrey's time broke her own school record (49.29), set last season.
After senior Blythe Hartley won back-to-back diving titles on Thursday and Friday, it was sophomore Kim Popp who led the Women of Troy divers on Satuday. She finished 15th a year ago, but took second today with 286.20, not far behind winner Tiffany Manning (296.85) of Arizona. Hartley, named 2006 Pac-10 Women's Diver of the Meet, finished third (277.15) while Trojan sophomore Ali Tycast took fourth (265.50) to give USC a 2-3-4 finish. Tycast finished no higher than 12th in any event in 2005.
Also posting a second-place finish was junior Kalyn Keller, whose 16:25.97 in the 1650y free was behind only Katie Nelson of UCLA (16:18.00). Keller won the title the previous two years. Keller, doing a grueling double of the mile and 200y fly in the same night, made a finals appearance in the latter event as well, taking sixth in 2:00.47.
Sophomore Hayley McGregory posted her second consecutive second-place finish in the backstroke, this time over 200 yards, her 1:55.77 just behind Cal's Helen SIlver (1:55.12). McGregory's time was 1.35 seconds off of Lindsay Benko's team record (1:54.42). McGregory, who transferred to USC from Texas this season, was also second in the event at the Big 12 Championships in 2005.
The team is next in action at the 2006 NCAA Championships, March 16-18, in Athens, Ga.