March 22, 2002
AUSTIN, Texas - A pair of fifth-place finishes by freshman ?gnes Kov?cs led Arizona State through the second day of the women's swimming and diving NCAA Championships at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas, Friday.
With one day remaining, ASU sits in 10th place with 101 points. The Sun Devils are seeking their first top-15 finish since 1995 and first top-10 finish since 1993. With 331 points, Auburn is in first place, followed by Georgia's 270 points and Stanford's 215. Bordering ASU in the standings are Southern Methodist in ninth with 124 points and Indiana in 11th with 92 points.
Swimming out of lane two in the finals of the 400-yard individual medley, Kov?cs swam her third-fastest time of the season, a 4:12.36 that edged Florida's Sara McLarty who wound up sixth in 4:12.42. Auburn's Maggie Bowen emerged as the event winner in 4:04.69, more than five seconds faster than Kov?cs' ASU record time of 4:10.77 established at the Pac-10 Championships.
Kov?cs swam out of lane three in the 100y breaststroke final, having improved her collegiate best by a hundredth of a second to 1:00.47 in event prelims. Just slightly slower in finals, Kov?cs completed the race in 1:00.56, less than two-tenths behind California's Staciana Stitts, who placed fourth in 1:00.40. Stanford great Tara Kirk won the event in a meet record time of 59.03.
In her final NCAA Championships, senior Sarah Baham improved her own school record in the 100y butterfly. The only Sun Devil ever to swim sub-54 seconds in the 100y fly, Baham won the consolation final in 53.26 to place ninth overall. While improving upon her previous best of 53.58, Baham clocked a time faster than those of the last three finishers in Friday's championship final.
One day after breaking her own ASU record in the 100y backstroke with an opening split of 54.48 in the finals of the 400y medley relay, sophomore Miranda Shald shaved another hundredth of a second of that mark, placing 11th in the finals of the 100y back in 54.47. Finishing ahead of Shald in the consolation final were Amy Wagner of Stanford (54.16) and Christine Keller of Georgia (54.44).
Shald was back in her leadoff role in the 200y medley relay as she and teammates Riley Mants, Florence Mauro and Claire Hedenskog finished 10th in 1:40.89. USC won the consolation final for ninth place in 1:40.56, while Stanford took the championship final in an American record effort of 1:40.56.
In Friday's other team race, the 800y freestyle relay, ASU's team of Florencia Szigeti, Amanda Stanford, Brooke Townsend and Kari Wilcox placed 12th in 7:17.87. Earlier all four had competed in the prelims of the 200y free, but none advanced to finals. Szigeti earned ASU's highest preliminary finish, swimming 1:48.44 to place 26th. Stanford was right behind in a personal best 1:48.76 to place 29th, while Townsend (1:50.00) and Wilcox (1:50.99) took 42nd and 49th, respectively.
Only one day stands between ASU and its first top-10 finish in nine years. The 2002 NCAA Championships will conclude Saturday with prelims and finals of the 1650y freestyle, 200y backstroke, 100y freestyle, 200y breaststroke, 200y butterfly, platform dive and 400y freestyle relay.
ASU has entrants in all but the 200y back and platform dive. Headlining the final day will be Kov?cs in the 200y breast as the defending Pac-10 Champion seeks to capture ASU's first NCAA event title since 1995.
For complete results, go to Texassports.com
ASU Day Two FINALS:
200y Medley Relay - 10. ASU (Shald, Mants, Mauro, Hedenskog), 1:41.25
400y Individual Medley - 5. Kov?cs, 4:12.36
100y Butterfly - 9. Baham, 53.26 **school record**
100y Breaststroke - 5. Kov?cs, 1:00.56
100y Backstroke - 11. Shald, 54.47 **school record**
800y Freestyle Relay - 12. ASU (Szigeti, Stanford, Townsend, Wilcox), 7:17.87
ASU Day Two PRELIMS:
200y Medley Relay - 10. ASU (Shald, Kov?cs, Mauro, Hedenskog), 1:41.25
400y Individual Medley - 5. Kov?cs, 4:12.46
100y Butterfly - 14. Baham, 54.12, 41. Mauro, 55.66
200y Freestyle - 26. Szigeti, 1:48.44, 29. Stanford, 1:48.76, 42. Townsend, 1:50.00, 49. Wilcox, 1:50.99
100y Breaststroke - 3. Kov?cs, 1:00.47, 30. Mants, 1:03.36
100y Backstroke - 12. Shald, 54.71