Hartley Wins 4th Career NCAA Title
March 16, 2006
Blythe Hartley won her fourth career NCAA diving title and the 400-yard medley relay quartet of sophomore Hayley McGregory, freshmen Rebecca Soni and Kristen Lahey and sophomore Rhi Jeffrey finished second in a school record, one of six USC posted to highlight Troy's first day of the 2006 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga., on Thursday (March 16).
Arizona leads the team competition after the first day (161) and is followed by Auburn (151), Georgia (147), Stanford (82), California (79) and USC (78).
Hartley, making her 10th NCAA final appearance in 10 attempts, earned her fourth title and second in the 1-meter with a winning score of 353.50, well ahead of second-place Allison Brennan of South Carolina (326.10). Only Kristine Quance (eight) and Lindsay Mintenko (five) have more career NCAA titles among USC women.
Hartley, who entered the meet already the only woman to win NCAA titles in all three diving specialties, also recorded her ninth top 3 final in 10 NCAA events (and was fifth in the other one). She first won the 1-meter as a freshman in 2002.
"I'm really happy. I dove pretty consistently today," Hartley said. "That is my highest mark ever at NCAAs and my second highest career score (with six dives). The 1-meter is my strongest event. Overall I felt strong and consistent. My last dive was a little sub-par but overall consistency is what I aim for.
"Going into the last dive I had a feeling that I was ahead and I just kept telling myself not to do anything out of the ordinary and just do what I normally do. If you try to change things, that¹s how you mess up."
In the 400y medley relay, USC broke the school record it set in prelims by going 3:33.97 (after a 3:35.44 in the morning swim that qualified first for finals). Only Arizona, which set an American record (3:31.70), went faster.
McGregory's lead-off backstroke leg of 53.53 broke her own USC 100y back record for the second time of the day (she went 53.66 in prelims). It marked the fourth time she lowered the Trojan record since joining the team in the spring after transferring from Texas.
Soni followed McGregory with the second-fastest breaststroke leg of the race (58.94) and Lahey posted a 53.42 leg in the butterfly. Jeffrey came home in 48.08, overcoming Cal's Emily Silver for second place.
Three Trojans made consolation appearances. Jeffrey won the consolation final of the 50y free in a school-record 22.42. The time broke the previous record of 22.52, which she swam in prelims to tie previous record holder Karen Campbell (1999). Jeffrey will look to make her first NCAA final in the 200y free on Friday and the 100y free on Saturday.
Junior Kalyn Keller finished ninth in the 500y free (4:43.19) and Soni was 11th in the 200y IM (season-best 2:00.33). Soni is among a handful of title challengers to win the 100y breast on Friday and is a favorite to win the 200y breast on Saturday. Keller will challenge for the title in the 1650y free on Saturday as well.
Other USC finishers included freshman Katy Houston in the 200y IM (season-best 2:01.41, 23rd), freshman Missy McIntyre in the 200y IM (2:04.25, 58th), freshman Rachael Waller in the 500y free (4:55.72, 52nd), Lahey in the 50y free (23.11, 33rd) and sophomore Kim Popp in the 1-meter (39th, 209.35).
USC's 200y free relay of McIntyre, Lahey, McGregory and Waller was 21st (1:32.70).
The meet continues Friday and Saturday (March 17-18). Prelims begin at 11 a.m. each day and finals start at 7 p.m. (EST).