Hartley Wins NCAA 3-Meter Title For Career 5th Win

March 17, 2006



Senior Blythe Hartley won her fifth career NCAA diving title and second in two days while freshman Rebecca Soni was second in the 100-yard breaststroke and sophomore Hayley McGregory took sixth in the 100-yard backstroke to pace USC's efforts on the second evening of the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., on Friday (March 17).

USC is in sixth after two of three days with 140 points. Georgia leads (379) and is followed by Auburn (326), Arizona (315), California (205), Stanford (164) and USC.

Hartley, making her 11th NCAA final appearance in 11 attempts, won her second career NCAA 3-meter springboard title (successfully defending her 2005 title) with 373.15 points, pulling just ahead of Indiana's Christina Loukas (371.40) on the final dive of the event.

For Hartley, the only woman to win NCAA titles in all three diving specialties, it was also her 10th top 3 final in 11 NCAA events (She has never finished lower than fifth). She is also only the fourth NCAA woman to win both springboard events in the same meet. The five titles also ties her with two others for second-most NCAA women's diving titles. Only Florida's Megan Neyer (eight) has more while Houston's Yulia Pakhalina and Stanford's Eileen Richetelli also have five.

'Blythe is amazing,' USC Head Diving Coach Hongping Li said. 'I'm thrilled she's won both springboards in her last year. It was a tight contest after she opened the door after her first dive in finals, which is normally her best. But she stayed extremely consistent in her final five dives to pull out the win.'

The five NCAA titles (two on 1-meter, two on 3-meter and one on platform) also ties Hartley with Lindsay Mintenko (formerly Lindsay Benko) for second place on USC's career NCAA title list with five. Only Kristine Quance (eight) has more.

Soni entered the 100y breast as the second-fastest woman in the event this season, behind only Cal's Jessica Hardy, and that was the only woman faster than her on Friday. Soni finished second in 1:00.07, just off Hardy's winning time of 1:00.02 (both have gone slightly faster this year). Soni was actually last among the eight-woman field after 50 yards and swam the fastest back 50 to almost win.

McGregory's sixth-place finish in the 100y back came in 53.54 for her first career individual NCAA All-American honor. A spring transfer from Texas, she went under the Women of Troy's 100y back record for the fifth time this year in prelims when she qualified fifth in 53.48. Before this season, no Trojan had gone under 54.00. She's now done it six times.

In the consolation final of the 200y free, Jeffrey finished 16th 1:48:53 while freshman Missy McIntyre was 14th in the 100y breast (1:02.39).

Other USC finishers included junior Kalyn Keller in the 400y IM (31st, 4:22.03), Lahey in the 100y fly (25th, 54.42) and 100y back (23rd, 54.89), sophomore Emily Goetsch in the 100y fly (29th, 54.56), freshman Rachael Waller in the 200y free (1:49.79) and junior Kristina Sieper in the 100y breast (1:03.26).

USC's 800y free relay of McGregory, Keller, Waller and Jeffrey was 13th (7:18.42).USC's 200y medley relay was disqualified for an early takeoff.

The meet concludes Saturday (March 18). Prelims begin at 11 a.m. and finals start at 7 p.m. (EST).

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