LONG BEACH, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's swimmers hung onto third place and the women finished in ninth among a full Division I field following the final night Saturday of the 2012 Arena Invitational at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
The Triton men accumulated 768 points, with the women totaling 348 points. Pacific-12 Conference and national powerhouses Stanford (2,112) and California (1,168.5) easily won the men's and women's competitions, respectively. The UCSD men also were left behind Hawai'i (848) by just 80 points, but topped Air Force (668), BYU, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Arizona State and Cal State Bakersfield. The Tritons had just lost at UCSB by 42 points in a dual meet back on Nov. 2.
The UCSD women completed the meet ahead of Cal Poly, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Bakersfield and Pepperdine.
The Tritons capped the meet with a pair of individual wins on Saturday, with junior captain Nicholas Korth finishing off the sweep of the breaststroke events, winning the 200 in 1:58.18. Korth, the NCAA Division II champion in the 200 breast as a freshman, had also turned in the fastest time in morning prelims (2:00.01).
Teammate Dane Stassi took the 200 butterfly in a school-record 1:45.65, a mark that qualifies him automatically for the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., in March. The sophomore had already set a new school standard in the 100 fly during Friday morning prelims in 48.13, before placing fifth at night in 48.30. The previous program marks were 48.55 and 1:46.03 (both set by Kurt Boehm in 2005), respectively. Stassi only snuck into the 200 final on Saturday, producing just the eighth-fastest prelim time of 1:48.37 before blazing to the win a few hours later.
"Our goals coming into this meet are always to qualify people for nationals, see where we are and find out where we need work," concluded UCSD women's head coach Corrie Falcon. "We absolutely did that, setting four school records, winning three individual events, and, although we're not 100-percent sure of the numbers now, qualifying a large contingent for the NCAA (Championships) in March.
"Getting three individual wins this week makes us all feel incredibly proud, considering the quality of athletes we're facing. We do it a little differently, and it just shows what you can accomplish with hard work, attention to detail and believing in the process. I was maybe most impressed with the presence we had throughout the meet as the only Division II school competing. With our professionalism and ‘one unit' approach, I would guess that most of the athletes and fans probably just assume we are a Division I program. We leave here encouraged about what we can accomplish by the end of the season."
Besides Stassi's pair of new standards in the fly events, captain Bethany Dong lowered the school record in the 400 individual medley on Friday, placing sixth in 4:18.01, and fellow senior Olivia Fountain did the same in the 100 fly (54.95) earlier that morning, besting current teammate Jaclyn Amog's time of 55.47 from the 2012 NCAA meet. The swim was over a full second faster than her previous best (56.07). Fountain's record preliminary mark was ninth-fastest, as she barely missed out on the championship final before winding up 13th with a time of 55.66 in the consolation final. Dong's mark bettered former Triton star Alex Henley's 4:18.21 from 2011.
The grueling 1650 freestyle was held as part of Saturday's program, marking the first such distance for the Tritons this season. Jeremy Smith (10th, 15:43.27), Paul Li (17th, 15:52.96) and Kyle Nadler (19th, 15:54.32) were top finishers on the men's side, while junior transfer Erika Rodman placed 12th (17:07.85) for the women.
Senior Jacob Lammott joined Korth in the championship final of the 200 breast after producing the fourth-fastest prelim time (2:01.21). He touched sixth in the evening session in 2:01.02.
-- UCSDtritons.com --