Jan. 24, 2009
Complete Release in PDF Format
TUCSON, Ariz. - In its most tightly contested and fastest dual meet of the 2008-09 season, the No. 2 Stanford women's swimming and diving team (17-0, 4-0 Pac-10) used a victory in the meet's final event - the 400 free relay - to defeat No. 7 and defending national champion Arizona, 150.5-147.5 this afternoon in a Pacific-10 Conference dual held at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. The meet was contested in a 25-yard short course format, and featured 14 swimming and two diving events.
With today's victory, the Cardinal women have won 16 straight Pac-10 dual meets, and have defeated 38 of its last 39 opponents in head-to-head competition.
After falling into an early, 29-7 hole following the first two events, Stanford showed the depth and talent of an NCAA title contender with a furious rally that was not fully complete until the meet's final event. Trailing by two points at 141.5-139.5 heading into the last race, the Cardinal rode the collective back of its 400 free relay team to a dramatic victory. With sophomore Kate Dwelley swimming the leadoff leg, freshman Sam Woodward and junior Elaine Breeden in the middle and junior Julia Smit handling the anchor, Stanford touched the wall in a strong NCAA "B" standard of 3:16.58 - a mere .16-second ahead of Arizona's "A" team. Smit made up the final difference, as her 100 time of 47.82 bested Arizona senior Taylor Baughman (48.70) by .78-second.
The exhilarating victory would not have been possible, however, without the clutch efforts of sophomore Liz Smith and Breeden down the stretch. The duo combined to win the last two and three of the final four individual events, beginning with Smith's victory in the 200 breast. A 2008 All-American in the event, she swam a 2:12.01 to hold off Arizona's Julie Stupp (2:12.49) by .48-second. Smith then set the stage for the 400 free relay by dominating the field in the 400 IM, as her time of 4:14.91 was nearly a full three seconds better than anyone else.
Perhaps nowhere was the Cardinal depth more evident than in the 12th event, when Stanford captured 15 of a possible 19 points in the 100 fly. Breeden led the way, winning with a "B" time of 53.74. Woodward finished second in 54.50, while junior Kelley Hug captured the points that would ultimately make the difference with a fourth-place time of 54.78. Breeden's victory gave her a sweep of the butterfly events, as the junior also won the 200 with a "B" time of 1:56.98.
Stanford's rally began in earnest in the third event, when Dwelley swam to victory in the 200 free with a "B" time of 1:47.71. Smit than took the baton in the fourth event, capturing the 100 back in 53.54 for the first of her three individual event victories, all with "B" standard times. The junior was the only swimmer in the field to reach an NCAA standard during her 100 free victory (48.99), while she held off a strong challenge from Arizona's Jennifer Forester to win the 200 back by .17-second (1:56.56 - 1:56.73).
The Cardinal also received scoring efforts from its "A" team (Hug, Smith, Breeden and freshman Betsy Webb) in the 400 medley relay (2nd - 3:42.51); freshman Angela Duckworth (4th - 10:06.91) and junior Whitney Spence (5th - 10:12.95) in the 1,000 free; freshman Jessica Rodriquez (5th - 1:50.57) in the 200 free; Webb (4th - 55.40) and senior Laura Wadden (5th - 56.27) in the 100 back; Smith (2nd - 1:02.14) and freshman Jamie Bruce (4th - 1:04.99) in the 100 breast; Dwelley (4th - 2:01.52) and Wadden (5th - 2:02.58) in the 200 fly; Woodward (4th - 23.00) and Webb (5th - 23.44) in the 50 free; Woodward (t-2nd - 50.11) in the 100 free; Wadden (5th - 2:01.95) in the 200 back; Bruce (4th - 2:17.67) in the 200 breast; Dwelley (4th - 4:53.04) in the 500 free; and Rodriquez (5th - 4:23.07) in the 400 IM.
Another huge factor in Stanford's thrilling win was the efforts of its divers. A day after sweeping both competitions at Arizona State, junior Carmen Stellar concluded her excellent weekend by winning the 1-meter in emphatic style. Her score of 292.50 represented a career-best in dual meet action, was well above the Zone "A" qualifying mark, and was 30.67 points more than the second-place finisher.
Following on cue, sophomore Meg Hostage gave the Cardinal a sweep of the diving by winning the 3-meter with a Zone "A" score of 285.15.
Also on the diving side, senior Sarah Ohr finished fourth on both the 1-meter (219.98) and 3-meter (261.45), while Hostage was third on the 1-meter (239.85) and Stellar followed suit on the 3-meter (268.28).
Stanford will host its final home competitions of the year next weekend at the Avery Aquatic Center, when the Cardinal entertains UCLA on Friday, January 30 and USC on Saturday, January 31. Both meets are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.