Dramatic Relay Effort by Men Caps Perfect Day for Tritons in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES - The University of California San Diego swimming and diving programs wrapped up a busy week of dual competition with a combined three wins Saturday at Burns Aquatics Center on the campus of Loyola Marymount University.
The UC San Diego women improved their dual-meet record to 6-3 with comfortable victories against CSU Bakersfield (5-6), 191-109, and host Loyola Marymount (2-7), 253-41. The Triton men are 3-1 after a dramatic triumph over the CSUB men (1-5), 150-144, that came down to the final relay. LMU does not have a men's program. The Lion women fell to the 'Runners in the other head-to-head matchup, 238-50.
The UC San Diego women and men are ranked No. 3 and No. 13, respectively, nationally in the NCAA Division II.
The Triton men and women have faced the Division I opponents in dual activity every year, always in January, going back through 2011, with the exception of the women not meeting CSUB in 2012. It was a seventh consecutive win over the Roadrunners for the men, since a 169-125 loss in Bakersfield back on Jan. 15, 2011. For the UCSD women, the results meant four victories in a row over CSUB and seven in succession against LMU, the latter since a narrow 132-130 home decision on Jan. 8, 2011. LMU is a fellow member of the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC), while CSU Bakersfield is in the Western Athletic Conference.
The men's meet was as tight as can be, still tied at 129-129 at the final break, heading into the last two swim events. After the 'Runners went 1-3-5 through Lovre Soric's win in the 200-yard individual medley, the Tritons trailed, 142-135. That meant they absolutely had to win the 400 freestyle relay, and also have their other foursome place second or third.
Eight UC San Diego swimmers got the job done. Senior All-American Kevin Wylder, sophomores Sawyer Farmer and Tin Huynh (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS), and freshman anchor Tenny Chong, notched the 11 first-place points, timing 3:05.42. Behind them were senior Samuel Lee, sophomore Chris Hargrove (Santee/West Hills HS), and seniors Justin Lee and captain Austin Takeda, in second in 3:08.39 for the clinching four points.
"One of the most inspiring moments of the weekend, was watching our men rise to the challenge when they knew they had to finish at least first and third in the 400 freestyle relay," said first-year UC San Diego head coach David Marsh. "They took first and second, with senior captain Austin Takeda bringing home the (B) relay in a tough way.
"The key was we battled through the meet for top-five places that added to the scoring total. Everybody understood every point mattered, and at the end of the day, the Tritons came up winners."
Over at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center, senior Trevor Jackson (Ramona/Ramona HS) swept the men's springboard diving events, and in the process, became the second Triton, both divers, to book his trip to the 2018 NCAA Division II Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in March. He joined junior Brooke Abrantes (San Diego/Santana HS) on the plane with his winning three-meter score of 300.67, eclipsing the standard of 295. He had earlier bested the two CSUB participants on one-meter (283.95). Abrantes won the women's three meters (254.55). LMU does not sponsor diving and does not have diving boards, hence the different venue.
Tritons took first in 11 of 16 women's events, and nine of 16 men's.
Elee Wong, a sophomore from Los Altos, was the individual swimming star, turning in a breakout meet. She blazed to a lifetime-best mark of 56.93 to win the 100 backstroke by nearly two full seconds over freshman teammate Charlotte Meier (58.92). Wong's previous collegiate best was 57.89, from just four days prior in La Jolla. Saturday's performance moved her into UCSD's all-time top-10, at No. 10, and gave Wong a first career NCAA consideration qualifier, getting just under the standard of 56.95. She later added a second victory in the 100 butterfly (57.64).
Senior captain Haley Murphy swept the women's sprints in 24.01 and 52.32. Two other Tritons with two individual wins were Chong, who touched first in the 100 back (50.46) and 100 free (45.74), and fellow freshman Rachel Taylor, who was fastest in the 200 breaststroke (2:18.83) and 200 IM (2:08.64).
Remaining UCSD victors were senior Angie Phetbenjakul (1:04.33) and sophomore Edgar Chin (56.26) in the 100 breast, Wylder in the 200 fly (1:52.65), senior Alex Rodman (Coronado/Coronado HS) in the 200 back (2:05.70), and junior Garrett Tse (200 breast, 2:05.25).
UCSD bookended the day by taking all four 200 medley and 400 free relay races. Wong led off the women's medley (1:46.21) ahead of Phetbenjakul, freshman Lindsay Clark and Murphy on the anchor. Chong started the men off on a time of 1:32.80 with Chin, Wylder and Huynh. The fastest women's free relay featured Murphy, Meier, junior Reagan Eickert and freshman Ciara Franke (San Diego/La Jolla HS) timing 3:32.40.
"On the men's side, the effort was strong all through the strokes, as Tenny Chong won the 100 backstroke and was big on both relays," added Marsh. "Edgar (Chin) had two tremendous breaststroke swims, and Garrett (Tse) was called upon late to swim the 200 breaststroke, and came up with a huge win for the team. We only gave him about five minutes' notice with that, so that was pretty impressive. Another key one was Trevor (Jackson), our diver, won both the one- and three-meter (diving events), which allowed us to get the meet to the last relay."
Wong's B cut in the 100 back was one of four from Tritons on the day, all by women, but the only new one. Phetbenjakul (100 breast), Murphy (50 free) and Taylor (200 breast) produced the others.
The UC San Diego men and women will now take a weekend off from competition and head to Riverside for dual meets against Division II rival California Baptist on Saturday, Jan. 20. The Lancers are ranked No. 8 on the men's side and No. 14 on the women's. The action at the Lancer Aquatics Center will get under way at 12 p.m. That meet will mark the end of the regular season for the Triton men.