Chang, Watkins do well at first meet

Chang, Watkins do well at first meet
By Sean Lee
Sports Information

REDLANDS – It might have been only the first meet of the year, but Caroline Chang (Lisle, Ill.) showed why she should be mentioned in the discussion for the NCAA Championships with a strong performance at the Redlands Pentathlon on Saturday.

The junior who's a two-time SCIAC champion in the 200-yard breaststroke, won the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1 minute, 7.59 seconds and placed second overall in points scored.

Chang, who owns Oxy records in both breaststroke distances and 200-yard individual medley, looks to build on the strong 2012 season when she was named an All-American.

Sophomore Emily Watkins (Palo Alto) wasn't far behind at 1:07.89 and nearly matched her time at the SCIAC Championships last year when she placed third overall in the event.

"It was an exciting race," Oxy head coach Shea Manning said. "They were really feeding off each other."

Chang and Watkins were just off the pool record of 1:07.21 that was set last year.

"What's most exciting is they were able to execute such a great race at this time in the year," Manning added. "This means they are on the right track for a successful season."

A strong showing at the Pentathlon could be a harbinger of success later in the season. In 2010, the year that Claremont-Mudd-Scripps' Annie Perizzolo won the 100 breaststroke national championship, she finished the event at the Redlands meet with a time of 1:08.00. Oxy swimmers will hope the history in this event is a good omen.

Chang also had a top-10 finish in 100-yard backstroke, coming in at 1:04.77.

Yuca Kosugi (Boring, Ore.) and Lizzy Kosin (LeGrange Park, Ill.) had strong showings for the women as well. Kosin, a freshman, came in second in 100-yard butterfly (1:03.20) and placed sixth in 100-yard freestyle (0:57.75). Kosugi had top-12 finishes in 100 butterfly and in 100 breaststroke. Both swimmers placed in top-16 overall.

Alexander Najarian (Glendale) led the men's team with a sixth place (0:53.29) in the 100 butterfly, an event in which the four swimmers who finished above him are All-Americans.

"He went with them," Manning said. "Made it a race, stroke for stroke."

In 100 breaststroke, Steven Van Deventer (Naperville, Ill.) placed ninth (1:02.38) and Kevin Kuwata (Rolling Hills) finished 15th (1:04.29).

Van Deventer also came in 22nd in 100 butterfly with a time of 0:56.74.