USC To Clash With UCLA Friday

Feb. 12, 2009

The No. 9 USC women's swimming and diving team completes the dual-meet season with its annual battle against crosstown rival UCLA, ranked No. 20, on Friday (Feb. 13) at McDonald's Swim Stadium at 1 p.m. USC is 5-1 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-10. UCLA is 4-4, 2-4.

The meet will serve as the final home event for USC's four seniors, Rebecca Soni, Katy Houston, Kristen Lahey and Rachael Waller.

UCLA is led sophomores Lauren Hall (breaststroke) and Sam Vanden Berge (free), both of whom posted wins in the Bruins' most recent meet at Cal. Senior sprinter Anna Poteete is also strong for the Bruins.

The Women of Troy hold an 18-16 edge against the Bruins. USC won a series-best 10 in a row from 1994 to 2003. A year ago, USC defeated host UCLA, 158-142, as outgoing seniors Whitney Hentzen and Emily Goetsch as well as current seniors Rebecca Soni and Kristen Lahey, each won twice. In 2007, the Bruins took home the dual meet victory, clinching the meet during the final relay.

The winner of this weekend's dual meet will earn five points toward their school's Lexus Gauntlet total. Currently, USC holds a 30-25 lead, but there are still many of cross-town competitions left in the year. The Lexus Gauntlet is a season-long competition between USC and UCLA in all sports. Points are awarded to the winner of each Bruin-Trojan head-to-head contest throughout the year and the Lexus Gauntlet trophy is awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. In seven years of the competition, UCLA and USC have alternated winning the Lexus Gauntlet trophy. The Bruins captured the rivalry's crown jewel in 2003, again in 2005 and in 2007. The Trojans won the challenge in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

The USC women's team is coming off a split during its recent Bay Area swing. The Women of Troy upset Cal, 152.5-147.5, before suffering their first loss of the season at Stanford 163-137. A week earlier, USC took down Washington, 130.5-129.5. Two weeks prior to that, the women's squad posted a 112-88 win over UC Santa Barbara. Previously, USC competed at the 2008 Husky Invite in early December, where the women's team finished first. Prior to that, both of USC's teams posted big dual-meet wins over Arizona, the defending NCAA champions on both the men's and women's side. Troy also swept Arizona State.

Leading the women is senior Rebecca Soni, USC's four-time NCAA champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist who already has NCAA automatic qualifying times in the 100y (59.48) and 200y breast (2:07.69). She also has NCAA consideration times in the 200y (2:00.64) and the 400y IM (4:15.66). Senior Kristen Lahey has another of USC's NCAA automatic times (100y back, 52.99, a school record) and she also has an NCAA consideration time in the 200y back (1:56.57) and the 50y (22.80) and 100y free (49.73).

Freshman Katinka Hosszu has USC's final NCAA automatic, a 1:54.26 in the 200y fly. She also has NCAA consideration times in the 500y free (4:46.95), 1650y free (16:23.07), 200y IM (1:59.07), 400y IM (4:10.49) and 200y fly (1:57.21). Other Trojans with NCAA `B' cuts already include senior Rachael Waller (200y free, 1:47.46), freshman Tanya Krisman (100y fly, 53.82; 200y fly, 1:56.43), senior Katy Houston (100y breast, 1:00.82; 200y breast, 2:11.89, 200y IM, 1:59.79), junior Dina Hegazy (200y back, 1:56.64) and sophomore Ellie Doran (500y free, 4:49.28).

A handful of Trojans own national top 50 times listed in the NCAA's Top Times database maintained by USA Swimming. They are senior Kristen Lahey (100y back, 52.99, 9th, 50y free, 22.61, 24th, 200y back, 1:56.57, 28th, 100y fly, 53.57, 31st, 100y free, 49.73, 48th), senior Rachael Waller (200y free, 1:47.46, 42nd), freshman Katinka Hosszu (200y fly, 1:54.26, 4th, 1000y free, 9:44.80, 6th, 400y IM, 4:10.49, 10th, 1650y free, 200y IM, 1:59.07, 19th, 16:23.07, 22nd, 500y free, 4:46.81, 45th), sophomore Ellie Doran (1000y free, 9:54.91, 27th, 1650y free, 16:35.97, 40th), junior Dina Hegazy (200y back, 1:56.64, 29th), senior Katy Houston (100y breast, 1:00.82, 12th, 200y breast, 2:11.89, 13th, 200y IM, 1:59.79, 27th), freshman Tanya Krisman (200y fly, 1:56.43, 15th, 100y fly, 53.82, 39th) and senior Rebecca Soni (200y breast, 2:07.69, 1st, 100y breast, 59.48, 4th, 400y IM, 4:15.66, 37th, 200y IM, 2:00.64, 41st).

USC swimmers, during their upset wins over Arizona, established a number of pool records. Lahey, in fact, lowered her USC school record in the 100y back while also setting a USC pool record in the process in 52.99. Other pool records already recorded this year are Soni's times in the 100y (59.48) and 200y breast (2:07.86), Hegazy in the 200y back (1:56.64) and USC's 400y medley relay of Lahey, Soni, Krisman and Waller (3:35.52).

USC returns three All-Americans, including Soni and fellow seniors Lahey and Waller. Also back is NCAA Championship participant senior Houston.

Soni is still not far removed from winning a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2008 Olympics. Soni also won silver medals in the 100-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter medley relay, entrenching herself as one of the world's top swimmers.

Hosszu was also a 2008 Olympian. Swimming for Hungary, she posted a pair of top 20 finishes in the 200-meter and 400-meter IM. Among the current Trojans who competed at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials are Waller, Houston and Lahey as well as freshmen Courtney Kalisz and Krisman. Krisman was a 200-meter fly finalist while Kalisz was a semifinalist in the same event.

USC features three women's divers who have already qualified to participate in the NCAA Zone E Championships (the meet in which divers can qualify for the NCAA Championships). They are junior Alexis Demond and freshmen Victoria Ishimatsu and Michela Fossati-Bellani. Ishimatsu has been USC's top overall women's diver this season, regularly finishing at the top of the standings in Troy's competitions.

Ishimatsu, USC's top diver as a freshman, was recently included on an announced USA Swimming team that will compete at the 2009 Canada Cup, scheduled for April 30-May 3 in Montreal. She will compete on 3-meter.

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