LA MIRADA, Calif. - The University of California San Diego men and women combined for three more wins and are well-positioned after the second day of the 2018 Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference (PCSC) Championships Thursday at the Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center.
The sixth-ranked UC San Diego women remain in first with 603 points, already 110 ahead of Fresno Pacific (493) and 11 other squads. The No. 16 Triton men, in fourth place heading in, moved up to second with 562 points, just 18 behind FPU. Both the UCSD men and women are in search of a 10th consecutive PCSC championship.
Fourth-year senior and co-captain Kevin Fink timed 4:30.29 to take first in the 500-yard freestyle, more than three full seconds ahead of freshman teammate Zack Reuter (4:33.39), who was the top seed ahead of Fink coming out of morning preliminaries. It was a first individual conference title for Fink since the 400 individual medley two years ago, and two gold medals in two nights for him following the 800 free relay on Wednesday. Fink had ankle surgery on Dec. 20, but made his way back in time for a fourth and final PCSC meet. It marks six straight years of Triton wins in the event. Fink was second behind teammate Michael Cohn last February.
Senior Trevor Jackson (Ramona/Ramona HS) notched his first PCSC title in his second and final season in the program, winning the three-meter event while obliterating the five-entrant field with a career-best score of 332.90. His closest competitor had a 266.20. Though an automatic NCAA qualifier, Jackson had already punched his ticket.
Senior captain Haley Murphy, freshmen Ciara Franke (San Diego/La Jolla HS) and Grace Murphy, and senior anchor Angie Phetbenjakul combined for 1:33.85 to barely hold off Fresno Pacific (1:33.90) and win the 200 free relay. It was the second time in as many nights that the Murphy sisters teamed up for a relay win. The elder Murphy, Haley, and Phetbenjakul, both fourth-year senior All-Americans, had also bookended last year's victory in the 200 free relay, but in the opposite order. This is actually the third straight PCSC meet that both have been on the gold-medal 200 free relay, with the Tritons winning the event year since at least 2012.
In the men's 50 free, freshman Tenny Chong (20.33) and senior All-American Kevin Wylder (20.46) went 2-3 for the Tritons, narrowly behind FPU's Dmitry Belolipetskiy (20.30), as Wylder was unable to defend his title in the sprint. Chong was the top seed (20.42) heading out of the heats, with the finals mark his best as a Triton and tied for No. 5 in the UCSD record book. Sophomores Sawyer Farmer (20.80), Tin Huynh (20.87) and Chris Hargrove (21.25), and freshman Tyler James (21.27), went 6-7-9-10 for big points for the Tritons with six in the top 10. Hargrove won the B final.
Franke was second and Haley Murphy third in the 50 free behind Biola's Lisa Tixier (22.98), who defended her title. Murphy turned in back-to-back lifetime bests of 23.72 in prelims and 23.56 in that final, and Franke sprinted a season-best 23.55 at night. Murphy's morning time was good enough to give her the No. 2 seed going into finals, behind only Tixier (23.52). Phetbenjakul won the B final in 23.95 for ninth.
In the final race of the night, the men's 200 free relay of Chong, Wylder, Huynh and anchor Farmer (1:20.90) was runner-up behind FPU (1:20.62) in another close finish, as the top two spots were unchanged from the 2017 edition.
Senior Haley Hamza was third (4:56.78) in the 500 free, with sophomore Alayna Gocke right behind her in fourth (4:58.48) and senior Stephanie Sin taking the B final for ninth (5:02.80). Hamza and Gocke's marks were both personal bests, moving them into sixth and 11th, respectively, in program history. Three Triton women went 6-7-8 within half a second of each other in the 200 IM, in senior Alex Rodman (2:06.45), junior Lindsey Miller (2:06.47) and Grace Murphy (2:06.79). Junior Amanda Sumrow (San Diego/Patrick Henry HS) won the B final in a season-best 2:04.46 for ninth place.
"Tonight's finals were full of energy, big points and several times that should qualify for the NCAA Championships," summarized first-year Triton head coach David Marsh.
The 2018 PCSC Championships continue on Friday, Feb. 16, with preliminaries starting at 9:30 a.m. and finals at 4:35 p.m. Swimming events include the 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 400 medley relay. Diving will conclude with finals of the women's three-meter and men's one-meter springboard competitions at 1:30 p.m., as the top eight perform six more dives.
Triton Notes: UC San Diego student-athletes have now won seven of 16 events at the 2018 PCSC Championships, with three individual and four relay successes.