No. 3 UC San Diego Edged by San Josť State in Home Finale
LA JOLLA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego was edged by San José State University, 153-146, in a women's swimming and diving dual meet to round out its 2017-18 home schedule at Canyonview Aquatic Center on Wednesday afternoon.
The UC San Diego women are ranked No. 3 in the most recent NCAA Division II poll, and fell to 4-3 on the season in duals meets. San José State, a Division I program out of the Mountain West Conference, moved to 4-2 in duals. The Tritons had knocked off the Spartans on Tuesday in another close affair, 152-148. That marked UC San Diego's first triumph over SJSU after four straight dual defeats in La Jolla, 2013-16.
Tritons earned first-place finishes in seven of the 16 events that took place on Wednesday. Rachel Taylor, a true freshman out of Laguna Hills (Crean Lutheran HS), accounted for three of them, sweeping the breaststroke races (1:06.81, 2:20.16) before turning in the top time in the 200-yard individual medley (2:07.90).
The other individual wins by UCSD came from Kaitlyn Ritchey in the longest event of the day, the 1000 freestyle (10:34.80), fellow sophomore Alayna Gocke in the 500 free (5:08.71), and junior Emily Lambert in the 200 butterfly (2:07.03). Sophomore Elee Wong, senior Angie Phetbenjakul, Lambert and senior anchor Haley Murphy combined for a mark of 3:52.17 in the meet-opening 400 medley relay.
The relay win helped spur the Tritons to a 29-7 lead after the first two events, and they still held the slimmest of edges, 141-139, with only the three-meter diving competition yet to factor in. However, a 1-3-4 finish on that board by the Spartans vaulted them to the win.
The final 400 free relay could also have swung the result the other way. SJSU's foursome of Shona Spikes, Gabby Heng, Katie McIntee and Taylor Lehr went 3:30.19 to barely touch out UCSD's A quartet of Murphy, Gocke, junior Reagan Eickert and freshman Ciara Franke, who went 3:30.33. Franke was .13 seconds faster on her anchor than Lehr, 52.29-52.42, as the San Diego product (La Jolla HS) charged furiously down the last 50 yards, but was just barely unable to make up the difference of .27 seconds. Had the Tritons won that race, it would have flipped the score to 153-146 in their favor.
Ritchey led a 1-2-3 sweep for maximum points in the 1000 ahead of Eickert (10:40.12) and fourth-year senior All-American and school record-holder Stephanie Sin (10:45.35) in her final home appearance. The Tritons also went 1-2-3 in the 200 fly, freshmen Lindsay Clark (2:08.33) and Alyson Mendez (2:10.00) following Lambert, and the 500 through Ritchey (5:09.51) and Eickert (5:11.18).
Murphy was runner-up between Spartans in both sprints in 24.25 and 52.46. Other top-three swimming notables were Gocke (200 free, third, 1:54.62), fourth-year senior All-American Julia Toronczak (200 back, third, 2:04.02), junior Lily Maxfield (200 breast, second, 2:23.71), Lambert (100 fly, second, 57.65), and sophomore Brooke Miles (100 fly, third, 58.30).
Junior diver Brooke Abrantes (San Diego/Santana HS) was third on the one-meter springboard (season-best 253.95), and later second from three meters (265.27).
Taylor turned in UC San Diego's lone NCAA consideration qualifier in the 200 breast, but did not lower her best time. Abrantes' three-meter score also narrowly eclipsed the NCAA standard of an even 265, but she had already booked her NCAA trip.
Wednesday marked the final home meet for nine seniors in Murphy, Phetbenjakul, Sin, Toronczak, Reilly Boyt, Holly Fosmire, Haley Hamza, Morgan King and Alex Rodman (Coronado/Coronado HS), though Hamza was unable to compete.
UC San Diego continues a busy month of January competition with both its men and women heading to Los Angeles this Saturday, Jan. 6. The swimmers will be at Loyola Marymount, with the women up against the host Lions, as well as CSU Bakersfield. The men will only face CSUB, with LMU not sponsoring a men's program. With no diving well at LMU, the four Triton divers will be at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center to compete against CSUB. Action at both locations is expected to begin at 12 p.m.
Triton Notes: Present and training at Canyonview Aquatic Center during Tuesday and Wednesday's meets were 2016 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Katie Meili, former Texas A&M star Sarah Gibson, and Alyssa Marsh, the eldest daughter of UC San Diego head coach David Marsh and a sophomore captain at Duke ... Meili and Gibson swam together as Team USA's breaststroke and butterfly legs, respectively, in preliminary heats of the 400-meter medley relay at the FINA World Championships last July in Hungary, Budapest, later earning gold medals after the final.