LONG BEACH, Calif. – As CMS built on their lead, it was underclassmen who stole the show. Three freshman swam their way to the top of the awards stand while a pair of sophomores did the same. Exciting from beginning to end, school records went down and NCAA cuts were met on day two of the 2011 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships hosted by Occidental College at the Belmont Olympic Plaza.
200 Medley Relay
Meet leader CMS wasted no time adding to their lead on day two, earning a victory in the opening event . CMS was a clear favorite and did not disappoint with Elsa Cheng, Emma Jones, Katie Bilotti and Helen Liu going an even 1:45. After the opening leg of the race, Occidental was in sixth place, but Caroline Chang’s breaststroke pulled the Tigers to the second spot and they would not relinquish that lead as Juliet Suess, Mallory Ryan and Lauren Ransom combined to swim a 1:48.79 to break the Oxy school record by six seconds. The University of Redlands team of Caitlin Michaels, McKenzie Nakamura, Lauren Zehner and Alexandra Bollella placed third in 1:49.57.
400 Individual Medley
Erin Bartholomew swam an incredible race, dropping almost eight seconds from her morning swim, which was a new Whittier College record. Her 4:34.63 is an NCAA “B” cut, but it did not come easy as she and CMS senior Heidi Wolfgruber flip-flopped the lead four times during the race. Bartholomew lead early and Wolfgruber (4:35.63)took over the reigns during the second leg of the butterfly and the first length of the pool in the free, but Bartholomew left it all in the pool, overcoming the deficit in the final 25 yards to win by a second. Michelle Utam, who swam the fastest time of the morning for UR dropped more time to finish in 4:37.71 earning third place.
A field stacked with CMS swimmers, saw freshman Michele Kee return to the top of the podium with a 55.74 victory over teammate and current SCIAC and Meet Record holder Katie Bilotti who went a 56.18. Lauren Zehner locked up the third slot tonight, lowering her time to 57.19.
In a rare situation at these championships, there was no CMS swimmer in the top-three as Occidental freshman Juliet Suess earned the first SCIAC title of her college career while earning an NCAA “B” cut with a 1:53.84, breaking the Oxy school record by four seconds. Unable to repeat her come-back effort from this morning, Allie Bollello was the runner-up in 1:54.41, trailing Suess from the get-go. Pomona-Pitzer’s Alex Lincoln eliminated a deficit in the final length of the pool to earn a third place finish, swimming a 1:56.37.
The environment was electric from the time the swimmers stepped up on the blocks and the field swam together throughout for the second time in as many races, an Occidental College freshman took the top spot. Caroline Chang earned the first SCIAC title of her college career with swim of 1:05.41, defeating CMS’s Emma Jones by a tenth of a second (1:05.51). WC freshman Haley Von Schottenstein will take her second trip to the podium, finishing in third with a time of 1:06.37.
The final individual event of the evening was another one full of CMS swimmers. The Athenas represented event class from freshman to senior, sweeping the awards. Junior Katie Bilotti defending her SCIAC title, although teammate, second place finisher, Tessa Dover flipped first at the 75 meter mark. Bilotti’s 57.32 was 15 hundredths of a second faster than Dover’s 57.47 finish. Senior Jenni Rinker was third in 58.30 and although there are only three awards recognized, CMS’s Elsa Cheng was fourth in 58.92.
800 Freestyle Relay
While it looked to be a battle of the Maroon squads in the final relay of the night for the women, UR was disqualified in the final leg of the relay to leave the door open for the podium. CMS jumped out to an early lead, but UR used the drag off of the Athenas’ swimmers to make it a race, trailing by just a second, 4:48.75 to 4:49.75 in the midst of the race but CMS pulled away during the final leg, earning an NCAA “B” cut with a time of 7:43.49 behind Jenni Rinker, Tara McIntyre, Carliann Brashier and Michele Kee. The Pomona-Pitzer group of Alex Lincoln, Charolette Dohrn, Danielle Holstein and Kristen Lindbergh took second place honors in 7:59.02 while the Cal Lutheran Regals’ team of Brooke Hubbard, Juliana Rios, Brooke Dacus and Shelby Brooks went an 8:05.43.
CMS, who has dominated in the pool, added a diving title to their resume of victories today when Carmen Lundell earned a meet high score of 384.15. Cal Lutheran freshman Sheyenne Machida represented the Regals on the podium with a 376.60 while senior Marisa Pulcrano from Occidental concluded her SCIAC career with a third place finish, tallying a 363.90.
The No. 9 College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division III ranked Athenas of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps look as if though they have all but locked up their eighth consecutive SCIAC title, holding more than a 300 point lead over the next closest team, the University of Redlands. CMS currently has 766.5 points followed by UR with 438. Occidental used a pair of first place finishes and a second place relay swim early on in the evening to pull the race closer, finishing day two with 353.5 points. The fourth spot belongs to Pomona-Pitzer (260.5) followed by Whittier College with 203.5. Cal Lutheran University jumped from eighth to sixth as the University of La Verne (132), and California Institute of Technology (124) round out the field.
Tomorrow will conclude the 2011 Championship meet with preliminaries set for 10 a.m. and finals to begin at 5:00 p.m. following Senior Recognitions at 4:45 p.m. prior to the start of competition. Check back to the SCIAC Championship website for the most in-depth coverage where you can watch live, listen and track results as they happen.