Feb. 27, 2010
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Hannah Wilson won the 100-yard freestyle and California withstood strong challenges from Arizona and USC to finish in second place at the Pac-10 Women's Swimming Championships on Saturday night at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. The Golden Bears were unable to repeat as Pac-10 champions but still produced strong performances at the conference meet as well as two Pac-10 titles - Wilson's and senior Lauren Boyle's in the 500 freestyle on Feb. 25. At the conclusion of the four-day meet, the Golden Bears collected 1341 points to trail only conference champion Stanford, which had 1489 points. USC claimed third place (1298.5 points) and Arizona was fourth (1223.5).
The results included Saturday's Pac-10 Women's Diving Championship performances at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Complex in Federal Way, Wash. None of the Bears in Washington reached tonight's platform final, with junior Laura Sanford recording Cal's top prelim finish in 10th with a score of 216.30. Arizona State's Elina Eggers won the final with a score of 308.75.
In Long Beach, Wilson was one of three Bears to post NCAA-consideration times in the 100-freestyle championship final, swimming 48.02 to win. Sophomore Liv Jensen took third in a time of 48.42 and junior Erica Dagg was eighth in 49.36. Wilson, the 2008 Hong Kong Olympian, won Cal's sixth 100-free title - and second straight - at Pac-10s. The other Bears to win the 100 free were Dana Vollmer (2009), Emily Silver (2007), Natalie Coughlin (2003-04) and Haley Cope (2001).
Cal's other conference title this year came from Boyle, who became only the second Bear - after Sarah Anderson in 1989 - to win the 500 free at the conference meet.
Boyle had a shot at her second win of the meet and her straight third 1650-free title at Pac-10s, but the 2008 New Zealand Olympian took second in the 1650 with an NCAA-consideration and Cal season-best time of 16:09.72. Bears senior Blake Hayter placed seventh with her season-best and NCAA-consideration time of 16:25.78. USC's Haley Anderson won with an NCAA-B time of 16:02.53.
Senior teammate Heather White posted Cal's season-best time in the 200 backstroke, with an NCAA-B 1:57.85. Stanford's Julia Smit claimed the title with an NCAA-meet record and automatic NCAA-qualifying time of 1:50.76. That topped the previous conference-meet record of 1:50.90 set by former Cal star Natalie Coughlin in 2002.
Bears finished 2-3 in the 200 breaststroke, with senior Alexandra Ellis clocking an automatic NCAA-qualifying time of 2:09.97 in second place and freshman Caitlin Leverenz swimming an NCAA-B time of 2:10.51 in third. Leverenz's time is her Cal personal record and keeps her in second place on the Bears' all-time record books behind Ellis' school-record 2:09.51. Stanford's Liz Smith won the race with an NCAA-qualifying 2:07.65.
Cal put two Bears - sophomore Sara Isakovic (4th, 1:53.99, NCAA A) and junior Amanda Sims (6th, 1:56.44, NCAA B) - in the 200-butterfly final. Isakovic's time is also her Cal personal record and moved her past former Cal great Mary T. Meagher into fourth place in the Bears' all-time record book. USC's Katinka Hosszu won the 200 fly (1:52.71, NCAA A).
In the meet's final event, the 400-free relay, the Bears foursome of Wilson, Isakovic, Dagg and Jensen finished second behind Stanford (3:12.83, NCAA A) with the nation's third-fastest time. That time of 3:14.66 (NCAA A) ranks Cal behind only the Cardinal and Georgia (3:14.09, NCAA A) at this point of the season.
"I'm really proud of the way the girls raced," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. "Hannah did an exceptional job. She had a great, great morning swim in the 100 free and came back and backed it up tonight and had a great relay, too. Alexandra Ellis was awesome, Sara's 200 fly was good and Liv did a nice job getting in the 100 free and in the relay.
"We're in a good situation. It was the first time since I've been coaching that we've ever gotten second place, too. We definitely had to step up tonight because USC and Arizona had a great session. USC was exceptional in diving. I'm excited to see where we can be in a couple weeks. We were in a different situation this year - people are chasing us. Last year, we were the ones chasing. But once people are coming after you, you're in a different place. I was proud to see we handled it well."
Cal competes in the NCAA Women's Division I Swimming and Diving Championships hosted by Purdue from March 18-20 in West Lafayette, Ind.
Pac-10 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships
Team Points 1. Stanford 1489 2. California 1341 3. USC 1298.5 4. Arizona 1223.5 5. UCLA 1015 6. Arizona State 635.5 7. Oregon State 413 8. Washington State 318.5
^NCAA automatic qualifying score (swimming)