Jan. 26, 2002
STANFORD, Calif. - The nation's top team was too much for Arizona State's seventh-ranked women's swimming and diving team, as the Sun Devils (5-2) fell to Stanford (5-0) by a 188-112 margin at Avery Aquatic Center in Stanford, Calif., Saturday.
The focus of the day had to be on a pair of outstanding breaststrokers, ASU freshman ?gnes Kov?cs and Stanford sophomore Tara Kirk. Kov?cs is the reigning Olympic and World Champion in the 200-meter breast, while Kirk is the reigning NCAA Champion in both the 100 and 200-yard breast. And although neither swam times approaching their career or season bests, their duels could still be considered a barometer for this year's NCAA Championships.
The two first squared off in the 100y breast, where both slid under the NCAA automatic qualifying standard, but Kirk emerged victorious in 1:00.66, with Kov?cs coming in at 1:01.17. Kov?cs got her revenge in the 200y breast where her 2:10.40 performance forced Kirk into second-place at 2:11.28. Sun Devil senior Riley Mants placed third in both events, with respective times of 1:04.57 and 2:16.53.
In the 400y individual medley, Kov?cs went up against the Cardinal's Shelly Ripple -- last year's NCAA runner-up finisher in the 200y IM - and picked up her second win of the night in 4:13.96, pulling Ripple to a personal best of 4:15.04. Earlier, Ripple had handed ASU's Sarah Baham her first dual meet loss of the season in the 100y butterfly, in a narrow 54.46-54.82 finish.
Other Sun Devil runner-up finishers included senior Amanda Stanford in the 1650y free (16:51.15), sophomore Miranda Shald in the 100y backstroke (56.56) and freshman Florencia Szigeti in both the 50y free (24.11) and 100y free (50.99).
The Sun Devils went out on a winning note, earning their second-best time of the season in the 200y free relay at 1:34.77 to best Stanford's 1:35.31 performance.
Although closer to home, the Sun Devil swimming and diving teams hit the road again next weekend when they meet the University of Texas at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Complex in Tucson, Ariz., February 1-2. Friday's meet is scheduled to begin 2:00 p.m. MST, with Saturday's meet starting at 9:00 a.m. MST. The Sun Devil women will follow the away meets by hosting Northern Arizona University at noon at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, Sunday, February 3.