Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 8, 2013

Stanford men's streak ends at 31

But Cardinal women swim off with their Pac-12 meet crown

by Keith Peters

The year was 1982. The Stanford men's swim team was coming off a third-place finish at the Pac-10 Conference meet and head coach Skip Kenney was just getting his feet wet as head coach.

That season, Kenney's third on The Farm, he coached his team to its first conference meet championship. Stanford went on to win 30 more and set an unprecedented record for the most consecutive Pac-10 Conference titles in any sport.

However, all streaks eventually come to an end and Stanford's finally did on Wednesday at the 2013 Pac-12 Conference Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.

The Cardinal began the day in second place and, despite, a valiant comeback effort, Stanford fell short and finished second at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.

Stanford received impressive wins from Drew Cosgarea (1,650 free) and David Nolan (200 back, but its historic streak of 31 consecutive conference titles was snapped in Ted Knapp's first season as head coach.

Knapp was an assistant under Kenney for 28 years before taking over when Kenney called it quits after 33 seasons. Unfortunately for Knapp, the magic disappeared as two-time defending NCAA champ Cal won the title with 825 times, a mere 25 more than the Cardinal. USC (638.5) was third and Arizona (483) finished fourth. It was Cal's first title since 1981, the last time Stanford didn't win it.

Stanford now looks ahead to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships (March 28-30) in Indianapolis.

Cosgarea (14:49.71) topped the podium in the mile while lowering his lifetime best of 14:51.26 set at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Nolan added another Pac-12 title to his resume with a meet-record 1:40.39 in the 200 back. Nolan's time bested the 1:40.51 set by current Stanford volunteer assistant coach Eugene Godsoe in 2009.

Stanford put four swimmers in the top eight to trim Cal's lead to 15 points. The Cardinal went two-five in the 100 free, led by Aaron Wayne's 42.48, as Cal's lead shrunk to 11 points.

The Bears, however, broke away from the pack by placing three in the top six of the 200 breast, with NCAA and American recordholder Kevin Cordes of Arizona winning the event in 1:52.96.

Sacred Heart Prep grad Tom Kremer posted a 1:44.54 in the 200 fly for second to pace Stanford and swam a leg on the 400 free relay that clocked 2:51.18.

While the Stanford men didn't keep their streak going, the Cardinal women did win their conference and give first-year head coach Greg Meehan his first conference title. Interestingly enough, Meehan was on the Cal men's staff last season.

The Cardinal secured the 2013 crown Saturday evening at the King County Aquatic Center by holding off second-place USC, which trailed Stanford by only eight points heading into the final day of competition in Federal Way, Wash.

Stanford finished with 1,439.5 points for its 19th overall conference title with USC totaling 1,418.5 while getting help from Palo Alto High grad Jasmine Tosky. Cal (1,333.5) was third as Gunn High grad Rachael Acker contributed a victory in the 200 free.

"Our team really stepped up today when the championship was on the line," Meehan said. "Our seniors were awesome both today and all week long. We are excited to continue this journey in three weeks at the NCAA Championships (March 21-23)."

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