Mar. 29, 1997
USC Swimming Finishes Sixth at NCAA Championships
MINNEAPOLIS - The USC men's swimming and diving team, led by junior Lenny Krayzelburg's NCAA title in the 200 back, concluded the NCAA Championships in sixth on Saturday (March 29) at the Minnesota Aquatic Center.
Auburn won its first national title in the sport with 496.5 points, followed by Stanford (340), Georgia (297), Texas (286), Tennessee (235.5) and USC (235); USC's finish marks its best finish since it took third in 1993. USC took seventh last year.
Krayzelburg won the 200 back title in 1:41.10 (a pool record), leading wire-to-wire and finishing almost two seconds ahead of second-place Bart Sikora of California (1:42.95).
Krayzelburg's title was USC's first NCAA title since diver Brian Early won the platform competition in 1994 and it was USC's first swimming title since Dave Wharton won the 400 IM in 1991.
Presenting the first-place award for Krayzelburg was Brad Bridgewater, the 1996 Olympic gold-medalist in the 200-meter back, former Trojan All-American and current USC student assistant coach.
Krayzelburg finished second to Texas' Neil Walker in the 100 back on Friday but didn't get a chance to challenge Walker in the 200 back because the Longhorn swimmer had to bow out due to a hand injury suffered earlier in the meet.
"I was shooting for the record," said Krayzelburg, who finished just more than a second behind the U.S. Open record (1:40.06). "If Neil had swam, it would have been a faster race. But it was a pretty tough race and I'm still happy with the swim."
Last year at the NCAA Championships, Krayzelburg, who is originally from Russia and prepped at Fairfax High in Los Angeles, finished 28th in the 200 back.
Senior Jeff Julian, who took fourth at the NCAA Championships in the 200 fly a year ago, came less than a half second away from winning the title this year, settling for second in 1:44.61. Florida State's Stephen Perry won in 1:44.28.
USC also had two swimmers in consolation finals of the 200 fly. Junior Josh Ilika took 13th (1:47.52) and freshman Bret Awbrey, swimming in his second individual consolation final of the meet, finished 14th (1:47.63).
Sophomore Bela Szabados, a finalist in the 100 free last year as a freshman at Florida Atlantic, finished sixth (44.64) in the consolation finals on Saturday.
USC's 400 free relay team of Krayzelburg, sophomore Mike Williams, senior Kent Johnson and Szabados, won the consolation finals in 2:57.00.
USC had four swimmers compete in the 1650, led by Johnson, who entered the meet with the fourth fastest qualifying time. USC's top finisher in the event, however, was sophomore Mark Kwok, who took 17th in 15:18.49. Johnson finished 21st in 15:26.24. Senior Greg Dolniak was 26th (15:36.92) and senior David Meca was 27th (15:47.61). Also senior Brad Francis took 25th in the 200 back in 1:47.34.