March 8, 2003
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- After finishing in fifth place for the past four seasons, the Arizona State Men's Swimming team ended that streak by placing fourth at this year's Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships. The final day featured individual top-six swims by Derek Miller in the 1650 freestyle , Ahmed Hussein in the 200 backstroke, and Nick Brunelli in the 100 freestyle.
The Stanford Cardinal recorded their 22nd straight Pac-10 Men's Swimming championship and recorded a sweep of the top three spots in the 200 backstroke on the final day to help them in their effort. The team total score of 879 sustained their streak of successive conference titles dating back to 1982.
The 2003 Championships concluded at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool with California finishing second with 730.5 points followed by USC (619 pts.) in third, Arizona State (439 pts.) in fourth, Arizona (392.5 pts.) in fifth, and Washington (181pts.) in sixth.
For the third straight year, USC's Erik Vendt came away with the Pac-10 title in the 1650 freestyle, this time in Pac-10 meet record fashion. The national leader in the event, Vendt clocked a 14:35.97 to better the previous mark of 14:36.32 set by Ryk Neethling of Arizona in 2000. Ous Mellouli ensured that the Trojans would have the top two finishers by recording a 14:58.53, an NCAA 'A' time. Matt Sorlien of Stanford rounded out the top three with a 15:05.87. Arizona State's Derek Miller finished sixth in a time of 15:23.38, a new career best.
Stanford claimed the top three finishers in the 200 backstroke, with Dan Westcott taking the championship in 1:40.71, just shy of the Pac-10 record of 1:40.59 set by Lenny Krayzelburg of USC in 1997. Markus Rogan (1:41.74) took second while Peter Marshall (1:43.43) touched third. California's Alex Lim was the final swimmer with an 'A' time in this event, recording a 1:43.80 to finish fourth.
In the 100 freestyle, Anthony Ervin, the three-time defending NCAA champion, won the duel with fellow Golden Bear Duje Draganja at this year's Pac-10s by touching the wall in 42.62, just two-hundredths of a second before his teammate. Draganja, who won the Pac-10 title in the 100 free last year, clocked a 42.64 to surrender his conference crown to Ervin. Randall Bal of Stanford (43.17) came in third while Joe Bruckart made it three Cal swimmers in the top four with an effort of 43.51. All four of those athletes earned automatic NCAA qualification. ASU's Nick Brunelli clocked a 43.71 to take home fifth place, just shy of the NCAA automatic time of 43.64. Brunelli will be at the NCAAs, however, by virtue of his 'A' time in the 200 free yesterday.
The 200 breaststroke finals featured a trio from three different schools taking top honors. Michael Bruce of Stanford set a new Pac-10 meet record of 1:55.70 to give him first-place. Bruce now holds the Pac-10 meet and conference records, as he already held the overall league mark of 1:54.81 that he set last season. Luke Ekhoff registered a top-three finish for Washington with a 1:56.88 to come in second, while Cal's Caleb Rowe notched a 1:58.42 for third. Bruce and Ekhoff earned NCAA automatic qualification.
In the closest event of this weekend's meet, the 200 butterfly produced a race where only 1.2 seconds separated first place from eighth. J.D. Abercrombie of USC (1:45.04) edged out Matt McDonald (1:45.09) for the conference title, while Jeff Lee of USC finished third (1:45.26). The remaining places were Juan Veloz of Arizona in fourth (1:45.46), David Ringe of USC in fifth (1:45.77), Erik Tolmachoff of USC in sixth (1:45.82), Jeff Dash of Arizona in seventh (1:45.88) and David Kolozar of ASU in eighth (1:46.24). That time moves Kolozar up to fourth all-time in the ASU record books. The 200 fly was the only event of the day where a swimmer did not earn an NCAA 'A' time.
The final event of the 2003 Pac-10 Championships saw California's 400 free relay of Joe Bruckart, Duje Draganja, Mike Cavic, and Anthony Ervin come in first place with a 2:51.43. Stanford came in just behind in 2:52.95 and Arizona took home third after touching the wall in 2:55.26. Arizona State recorded a 2:59.21 to finish in fourth. Cal and Stanford earned NCAA 'A' times for their efforts while Arizona was only two-tenths of a second shy of the cutoff.
The swimmers that have qualified will take part in the 2003 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, March 27-29 in Austin, Texas. The final standings of the 2003 Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships are as follows:
1) STANFORD 879 2) CALIFORNIA 730.5 3) USC 619 4) ARIZONA STATE 439 5) ARIZONA 392.5 6) WASHINGTON 181
NCAA 'A' Times Recorded Today (not including relay splits):
California: Lim (200 back), Ervin (100 free), Draganja (100 free), Bruckart (100 free), 400 free relay
Stanford: Westcott (200 back), Rogan (200 back), Marshall (200 back), Bal (100 free), Bruce (200 breast), 400 free relay
USC: Vendt (1650 free), Mellouli (1650 free)
Washington: Ekhoff (200 breast)