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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 11, 2011

Cardinal men make another historic splash at Pac-10s

Depth and talent win out once again in record-breaking 30th consecutive conference meet swimming championship

by Rick Eymer

Number 30 was just as sweet as number one for the Stanford men's swimming team last weekend as the Cardinal successfully defended its Pac-10 Conference meet title for the 29th consecutive time.

With Chad La Tourette successfully defending his title in the 1,650 free and the Cardinal having 13 swimmers score in the finals, Stanford won its 30th straight conference title, a streak unmatched by any NCAA team in any NCAA sport.

Austin Staab, Curtis Lovelace, Matthew Swanston and Matt Thompson all finished in the top three in their respective events as the Cardinal accumulated 911 points to Cal's 86 points in Long Beach.

La Tourette won the 1,650 free with a time of 14:38.13, leading three other Cardinal swimmers among the top eight. Michael Zoldos finished third in 14:58.38.

Swanston and Thompson finished second and third, respectively, in the 200 back. Bollier was the runnerup in the 200 fly in the final individual event, swimming 1:41.60 in the finals. Staab was third in the 100 free, recording a time of 42.46.

Lovelace was third in the 200 breast with a time of 1:54.71. Lovelace joined John Criste in the championship finals.

Staab, who left school for personal reasons last season, was crucial to Stanford's success during the weekend. He scored in seven events, winning the 100 fly on Friday in 44.66 and taking the 200 IM on Thursday with a school record of 1:42.01, breaking the previous school record of 1:43.82 set by Nate Cass in 2009.

In winning the 100 fly, Staab joined John Ferris (1969-71), Pablo Morales (1984-86) and Jay Mortensen (1987-89) as Stanford's three-time winners in the event.

Staab's efforts also were critical on four relays that placed second. He helped finish off Stanford's historic title by anchoring the 400 free relay team to a sizzling school record of 2:48.51. Ironically, the only relay that Staab did not swim on — the 800 free — won.

As was the case in all the previous conference meet championships for head coach Skip Kenney and associate head coach Ted Knapp, Stanford won with talent and depth. The Cardinal won only five races, with Thompson winning his first Pac-10 title in the 400 IM (3:45.01) to add to the victories by Staab, La Tourette and the 800 free relay.

Stanford finished second in seven events, including Swanston in the 200 back (1:41.47), Bobby Bollier in the 200 fly (1:41.60) and Jake Allen in the 200 free (1:34.28.).

Should the Stanford women or men's swimming teams fare very well at their respective NCAA Championships in the coming weeks, a handful of Cardinal divers may have a say in just how high those finishes will be.

Stanford began competition Thursday at the three-day Zone Regional Championships in Minneapolis.

The Cardinal women are looking to secure at least one of the six spots for the NCAA Championships that start on March 17 in Austin, Texas, while the men are looking for one of eight spots for the championships in Minneapolis starting on March 24. There are 10 men's teams competing and 20 women's squad equating to 27 men and 53 women diving over the three-day competition.

Stanford head coach Dr. Rick Schavone has placed a diver in the top 16 at the national meet in 26 of the past 28 years.

Stanford seniors Brent Eichenseer and Meg Hostage are both returning All-Americans. Eichenseer has competed at the past two NCAA Championships, placing 13th in the platform in 2009. Both were January Pac-10 Divers of the Month.

Softball

Stanford sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart was selected as the Pacific-10 Conference Pitcher of the Week.

Gerhart went 3-0 last weekend and boasted a 1.33 ERA. She racked up 33 strikeouts, averaging 11 per contest. In three complete games, Gerhart allowed just four earned runs and issued just four walks.

In the team's 2-1 win over Iowa, Gerhart struck out nine Hawkeyes without allowing an earned run. Against UCSB, Gerhart registered a then-season high of 10 strikeouts. In her third win of the weekend, over Cal State Northridge, the Norco, Calif., native turned in a magnificent performance. She finished with a career-high 14 strikeouts and held a no-hitter through four innings of play. She retired the entire Northridge lineup in order to start the game, including striking out the first six Matador hitters.

Offensively, Gerhart also recorded four hits on the weekend, including a double and a home run.

It marks the second Pitcher of the Week honor in Gerhart's career. Stanford will take this week off in preparation for finals. The Cardinal will be back in action as it hosts the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic March 18-20.

Women's soccer

Freshman goalkeeper Emily Oliver returned from La Manga, Spain, where she split time in the United States Under-20 national team lineup at the Ten Nations Tournament.

The U.S. finished with a 2-0 victory over Norway on Tuesday, during which Oliver played the second half.

Synchronized swimming

Stanford hosts an exhibition swim Saturday at 11 a.m., a final tuneup before competing in the U.S. Collegiate Nationals, which begins next Friday in Buffalo.

Stanford is coming off a win at the West Regional over the University of Arizona and Arizona State in Tempe last week. The Cardinal placed first in all four competitions, including a season-high score in the team swim.

Wrestling

The NCAA championship pairings were announced Wednesday in advance of the March 17-19 meet at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Arena.

Here are the Stanford's first-round matchups:

At 125, Ryan Mango will wrestle in a play-in round against Purdue's Camden Eppert. The winner will face Navy's Aaron Kalil in the first round and could wrestle three times on the Thursday opening day.

At 133, Justin Paulsen wrestles Boston University's Fred Santaite with the winner likely to face No. 4 seeded Tyler Graff of Wisconsin in the second round.

At 174, Nick Amuchastegui received the seventh seed and wrestles Wisconsin's Benjamin Jordan.

At 197, Pac-10 champion Zack Giesen received the No. 12 seed and will take on Gardner-Webb's Travis Porter, with a possible second-round matchup against No. 5 Luke Lofthouse of Iowa.

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