March 16, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - Defending champion California matched its title haul from the first day of the NCAA Championships when the Golden Bears captured three national titles on Friday night to remain in first place at Auburn's James E. Martin Aquatic Center. Sophomore Cindy Tran led off the Golden Bears' repeat win in the 200-yard medley relay and then won her second straight 100-yard backstroke crown. Senior Sara Isakovic - a key member of Cal's 2009 and 2011 NCAA team championships - won her first individual national title by claiming the 100-yard butterfly.
Cal leads the meet with 311 points. Georgia is second (247), while USC and Arizona are tied for third (226). Four of the top five times come from the Pac-12 Conference, with Stanford in fifth place (222).
"It's really a great day," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. "The women stepped up big in a lot of different ways. It's pretty exciting."
Tran swam the fastest time of her career (50.31) in the 100-back final. She remains the second fastest Bear all-time in the event, trailing only Natalie Coughlin (49.97). In the B final, freshman Melanie Klaren finished 12th (52.77) and sophomore Stephanie Au placed 13th (52.83) overall. Au's 100-back prelim time of 52.69 moved her into seventh place in school history, past Klaren, whose top time is 52.74.
Cal's medley relay and junior Caitlin Leverenz - in the 400 IM - clocked American records tonight. The relay, consisting of Tran, Leverenz, senior Colleen Fotsch and senior Liv Jensen, posted a time of 1:34.24, which is also a new U.S. Open, Pac-12, school and pool record. That broke the record-time of 1:35.03 that the same quartet swam in winning the 2011 NCAA title.
Leverenz - who one night after winning the 200 IM took second in the 400 - swam a time of 3:57.89 to break her own school record in the 400 IM. Also in the 400 IM, senior Shelley Harper finished 11th in a time of 4:07.49, which ranks her second fastest in Cal history in the event. Katinka Hosszu, USC's Hungarian Olympian, won the 400 IM in an NCAA, U.S. Open and pool record of 3:56.54.
A member of Cal's winning 400-medley relay on Thursday night, Isakovic won the 100 fly in a personal-best time of 51.49 and will end her 100-fly career as the fifth-fastest Bear in school history. This marks the third time in the last four seasons that a Bear has won the 100 fly at NCAAs, as former star Amanda Sims won the 100 fly in 2009 and 2011.
Tran finished first in another race tonight, winning the consolation final of the 100 fly to take ninth place with a personal-best time of 51.62. She ranks right behind Isakovic in sixth in the 100 fly at Cal.
Cal had four Bears swim in the 200-free A and B finals, including Jensen, who took third place overall with a personal-best time of 1:43.45. Freshmen Caroline Piehl (1:45.41) and Catherine Breed (1:45.45) finished 13 and 14, respectively. Isakovic, swimming in her second straight event with a third coming up in the 800-free relay, placed 16th with a time of 1:46.21. Piehl moved into 10th place in Cal 200-free history with her prelim time of 1:44.79.
Georgia's Megan Romano won the 200 free in record time, as her 1:41.21 broke the NCAA, American and U.S. Open records held by former Cal star Dana Vollmer (1:41.53) and the Auburn-pool record of 1:42.65 set by Coughlin.
The Bears did not place anyone in the 100 breaststroke or the three-meter springboard finals Friday, though freshman Yvette Kong moved into fourth place all-time at Cal with her 100-breaststroke prelim-time of 1:00.34 that placed her 19th this morning. Sophomore diver Kahley Rowell finished 35th with a score of 265.30 in the three-meter prelim.
Cal ended the night with a second-place finish in the 800-free relay, with Isakovic, Breed, Piehl and Jensen posting a time of 6:57.50. Georgia won the relay with a time of 6:55.96.
"This morning the relay set the tone," McKeever said of the medley relay's prelim, which came close to edging last year's record with a time of 1:35.16. "With Shelley Harper getting a second swim in the 100 fly and Sara with a huge win, that 800-free relay doing well - with all those women scoring individually and then swimming their third 200 free of the day - Cindy Tran progressing from last year and winning the 100 back again, it was all great."
On Thursday, Cal also won three championships - in the 200 IM (Leverenz), 50 free (Jensen) and 400-medley relay (Tran, Leverenz, Isakovic and senior Katherine Raatz).
"We've very proud of where we are," McKeever added. "We're ahead, but Georgia could have a monster day tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we have to make sure we take care of our business, do our best and see what happens."
The NCAA Championships conclude Saturday with seven events - the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breaststroke, 200 fly, platform diving and 400-free relay.
Standings (top 10)
Team Points 1. California 311 2. Georgia 247 3. USC 226 3. Arizona 226 5. Stanford 222 6. Tennessee 186 7. Texas A&M 185 8. Auburn 184 9. Texas 146 10. Arizona State 99