Photo by: Jack Spitser
Freshman Rachel Taylor is a first-time All-American with her seventh-place finish in the 200 breaststroke.

UC San Diego Swimming & Diving Concludes NCAA Championships With Women in Seventh


GREENSBORO, N.C. - The University of California San Diego completed competition Saturday at the 2018 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships. Wingate University and the Greensboro Sports Commission served as co-hosts inside the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

Through 21 events on the women's side, UC San Diego placed seventh with 196 points. The Tritons were 17th after Wednesday's action and ninth through Thursday before moving up to seventh on Friday. The UCSD men were 21st with 45 points after 21 events. Both the men and women of Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., now have four successive team national championships.

The women's 400-yard freestyle relay of freshman Grace Murphy, older sister Haley Murphy, Angie Phetbenjakul, and freshman Ciara Franke (San Diego/La Jolla HS), timed 3:24.08 in the championship final to round out UC San Diego's involvement at the meet, for eighth place and All-America distinctions for all four. The order in the preliminaries was Phetbenjakul, Haley Murphy, Grace Murphy and Franke on the anchor, as they went a season-best 3:23.74 for the third seed coming out as the runners-up in the second of four heats. Phetbenjakul's leadoff leg of 52.07 was her best this season. Grace Murphy opened at 51.32 at night. The evening final was a last race as Tritons for fourth-year seniors Phetbenjakul and two-time captain Murphy.

Rachel Taylor, a true freshman out of Laguna Niguel (Crean Lutheran HS), was a fifth All-American for UCSD on Saturday and first-time All-American for her career, placing seventh in the 200 breaststroke in 2:16.98 in the championship final. She had earned All-America honorable mention with Friday's 12th-place effort in the 100 breast. Her prelim time in the 200 Saturday morning was 2:16.03, eighth fastest to sneak her into the A final at night.

Two seniors saved their bests for their last races as Tritons. Haley Hamza broke her own school record in the 1650 free by over a second, taking it down from 16:54.89 to 16:53.55 in placing second in the first of four morning heats of the event. She had just broken fourth-year senior teammate Stephanie Sin's standard exactly one month ago, on Feb. 17, on the final day of the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC) Championships in La Mirada. Hamza's time was second coming out of the morning, but all eight competitors in the final, fastest heat at night, got under that mark, pushing Hamza down to 10th, and All-America honorable mention.

Alex Rodman (Coronado/Coronado HS) put together a spectacular showing in the consolation final of the 200 backstroke, and in fact won her second B final in as many nights after the 100 back on Friday, for matching ninth-place overall finishes in those events. On Saturday, she dominated the consolation race from the get-go, touching in a personal-record 1:57.88, a time which would have been good for second in the championship final. Rodman became just the second Triton ever to swim the event under 1:59, moving up from fourth to No. 2 in the record book behind UCSD great Alex Henley (1:57.11). She was an agonizing .12 seconds short of eighth place out of prelims, in a season-best 2.00.50, and won the B final by 1:44 seconds. Rodman improved seven spots on her No. 16 seed going in.

The men's 400 free relay of senior Kevin Wylder, freshman Tenny Chong, junior Garrett Tse and senior co-captain Kevin Fink timed 3:01.82 for 17th, one spot shy of advancing into the consolation final. Wylder opened with a season-best 45.75 over 100 yards. The race marked the Triton swan songs for he and Fink.

Other Triton prelim participants included Franke, who sped a season-best 51.05 to tie for 21st in the 100 free. Chong went 1:49.10 for 25th in the 200 back. Junior co-captain Lily Maxfield (2:17.85) and Tse (2:01.77) were both 18th in their respective 200 breast prelims, as second alternates for consolation finals.

Junior Reagan Eickert (17:16.25, 23rd) and sophomore Kaitlyn Ritchey (17:38.32, 32nd) swam the grueling mile in the same heat together.

Triton Notes: Through four days in North Carolina, the Tritons compiled 23 All-America distinctions, 20 All-America honorable mentions, and two school-record swims ... First through eighth placements at the NCAA meet constitute All-America, with ninth through 16th good for All-America honorable mention ... Thursday's women's 400 medley relay was UC San Diego's first school record of the meet, and second of the year after senior Haley Hamza in the 1650 free on the final night of the conference meet on Feb. 17 ... Hamza then added her second school standard in as many meets, in Saturday's 1650 in Greensboro.


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