Soni Wins NCAA 200-Yard Breaststroke Title

March 18, 2006



Freshman Rebecca Soni won USC's first NCAA title in the 200-yard breaststroke since 1997, sophomore Rhi Jeffrey earned her first career individual All-American honor and senior Blythe Hartley earned her 12th such honor to finish off USC's top efforts on the last day of the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., on Saturday (March 18).

Auburn won the team title with 518.5 points, edging Georgia (515.5). Arizona was third (415) and was followed by California (291), Stanford (209) and USC (193).

The meet marked USC Coach Mark Schubert's final time coaching the Women of Troy at the NCAA Championships. The Trojan women finished among the top 10 in each of Schubert's 13 seasons, including USC's only women's team title in 1997 and top 6 finishes eight other times. Schubert is leaving USC to take a newly created permanent head coaching position with USA Swimming.

Soni, the Pac-10 champ in the 100y and 200y breast who missed an NCAA title in the shorter distance on Friday by less than a tenth of a second, led almost the entire way in the 200, touching in 2:09.37. She was USC's first freshman to win an NCAA title since Kalyn Keller won the 1500 (scm) free in 2004. Soni finished the season unbeaten in the 200y breast. The last Trojan to win the event was Kristine Quance in 1997.

'It wasn't my best time. It feels pretty good, though,' Soni said. 'I was looking to win for my team and that's what I did. Not really (any more pressure from being a freshman swimmer). I've been to a few big meets so I know the pressure. In the morning I took it too fast. Tonight was all about strategy to go out strong.'

Jeffrey broke her own school record in the 100y freestyle in prelims, erasing the 48.94 at the Pac-10s earlier this year with a 48.60. She then finished sixth in the final in 48.87.

Hartley, who won both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard titles earlier in the meet to give her five career NCAA wins, finished seventh in the platform with 275.30 points, marking the 12th time she's made an NCAA final in 12 attempts.

USC's 400y free relay of Jeffrey, freshman Kristen Lahey, sophomore Hayley McGregory and freshman Rachael Waller took 13th (3:21.16).

Other USC finishers included Keller in the 1650y free (24th, 16:34.24), McGregory in the 200y back (17th, 1:58.11), Waller in the 100y free (68th, 52.19), freshmen Katy Houston (27th, 2:16.21) and Missy McIntyre (38th, 2:17.84) and junior Kristina Sieper (45th, 2:19.73) in the 200y breast, sophomore Emily Goetsch in the 200y fly (20th, 2:00.19) and sophomore walk-on Kim Popp on platform (22nd, 195.10).

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