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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - August 3, 2012

Stanford gets pair of medals

Logan rows to gold, Ipsen dives to bronze to open London Games

by Rick Eymer

Kristian Ipsen and Elle Logan won the first medals of the 2012 London Olympic Games for Stanford. Two American teams, with plenty of Cardinal influence, have completed pool play with unblemished marks and two others also could finish strong.

The U.S. women's soccer team, with Stanford grads Rachel Buehler, Kelley O'Hara and Nicole Barnhardt, open quarterfinal play Friday against New Zealand, which has Stanford grad Ali Riley on the roster.

The USA women's volleyball team, with Cardinal grads Logan Tom and Foluke Akinradewo, meets Serbia in the final match of pool play Friday and the women's water polo team, with Cardinal grads Brenda Villa and Jessica Steffens and current Stanford students Melissa Siedemann, Annika Dries and Maggie Steffens, meet winless China.

Stanford grad Kerri Walsh and teammate Misty May-Treanor went 3-0 in pool play and open the elimination round on Friday in beach volleyball.

The men's water polo team, with Stanford grad Tony Azevedo scoring four times, beat Great Britain, 13-7, on Thursday. Former Cardinal standout Peter Varellas also scored.

"We definitely wanted to start this game off stronger because we saw their two previous games when they came out on fire in the first quarter, and once a team gets going and the crowd gets behind them, they start throwing up shots and everything starts going in," Azevedo said. "We wanted to play strong defense and make sure we got a lead at the beginning."

"Tonight we kind of settled in and kind of let off the gas a little bit after going up," U.S. coach Terry Schroeder said. "But I think we're real happy. We're 3-0 for sure so it puts us in a good place in our bracket and sets up a good match with Serbia here in two days."

After Serbia, the U.S. wraps up the group stage against three-time defending Olympic champion Hungary on Monday.

Former Stanford All-America tennis standouts Mike and Bob Bryan safely reached the quarterfinals of the mens' doubles competition and will play Friday.

Elsewhere, Amaechi Morton, representing Nigeria, opens competition in the 400 hurdles Friday and Stanford grad Jillian Camarena-Williams will compete in the shot put qualifying.

Cassidy Krug also starts diving competition with the 3-meter springboard attempts while Silas Stafford goes for a medal in the men's pair of the rowing competition.

Ipsen, who will be a sophomore at Stanford, made a splash in his Olympic diving debut on Wednesday as he and partner Troy Dumais earned the bronze medal in the 3-meter synchronized event.

"It's just amazing," said Ipsen. "After missing out on an individual berth at the (U.S.) trials, I knew something good would come of it. I'm so happy. Coming home with a medal, I did not expect it."

After a 12-year medal drought, the Americans won a silver and two bronzes in three of the four synchro events.

In rowing, Taylor Ritzel looked at the gold medal hanging around her neck. She shook her head and took a deep breath. Ritzel was part of the U.S. women's eight, that included Stanford grad Elle Logan, that won a second straight Olympic gold on Thursday, maintaining a six-year dominance in the event.

"I think the sport and the eight other women in this boat, and the rest of Team USA, have made what seemed to be an impossible thing to get through possible," said Ritzel, who lost her mother to breast cancer nearly two years ago.

The camaraderie in the women's eight was in full view as they threw up their intertwined arms when the announcer read out: "Gold-medalists — the United States!"

Esther Lofgren was in tears. Susan Francia looked close to joining her. Coxswain Mary Whipple received the biggest cheer as the medals were handed out under clearing skies on the pontoon. She would later be tossed into the lake by the jubilant crew.

Racing in a fierce crosswind, the U.S. led from start to finish to win in 6 minutes, 10.59 seconds, a half-length ahead of a fast-finishing Canadian crew.

The next time the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team steps onto the pitch in the 2012 London Games, it will be a reunion for a handful of former Stanford players.

The Americans, coming off a 1-0 victory over Korea DPR on Tuesday, also feature Cardinal grad Christen Press as alternate.

Riley, O'Hara and Buehler were all teammates in 2007. Riley and O'Hara graduated in 2010.

The reunion will take place in a quarterfinal on Friday at St. James' Park in Newcastle.

Riley is happy to be in position to face her old teammates after suffering a pre-Olympic injury. The standout fullback suffered an ankle injury in a loss to Canada in Switzerland two weeks ago, sidelining her from the subsequent win over Colombia and the early part of their Olympic preparation.

Regarded by many as the Football Ferns' best player, Riley is an important cog with her ability to get up and down the left flank and create opportunities.

Despite Riley's talents, New Zealand went into the final round of group matches with a 0-2-0 record, having lost tight 1-0 contents to both England and Brazil. In their group finale, the Kiwis pulled out a 3-1 victory over winless Cameroon to take third place in the group -- earning a berth to the quarterfinals as one of the two best third-place finishers along with Canada from Group F.

The win by New Zealand also knocked Korea DPR out of the quarterfinal round on the basis of goal difference.

U.S. men's eight crew members David Banks and Jake Cornelius helped the boat to a fourth-place finish in Wednesday's gold-medal final.

Rowing from the back half of the pack, the U.S. fought its way down the 2,000-meter course and into a position to move into a medal spot with a strong surge.

However, with Germany well on its way to victory and Canada finishing strong in second position, the U.S. was left to try and run down the fading boat from Great Britain in the final 200 meters. The U.S. push fell just short, as Banks, Cornelius and crew would cross the line in 5:51.48, coming up just 0.3 of a second short of catching the British boat for the bronze medal.

In pair action, Stafford and partner Tom Peszek finished fourth in Wednesday's first semifinal in a time of 6:58.58, just over two seconds behind third-place Canada.

The finish was one spot out of the top three, which would have sent them to the Gold Medal Final. Stafford and Peszek will now race in the B Final.

Stanford grad Markus Rogan of Austria qualified for the semifinals in the men's 200 IM after placing third in Heat 4 with a 1:58.66 clocking. He had the eighth-fastest time overall, finishing behind Michael Phelps in the heat.

Rogan, however, was disqualified in the semis for using an illegal dolphin kick in the transition from backstroke to breaststroke at the 100-meter mark. A protest filed by the Austrian swimming federation following the race was denied by officials.

In the men's 200 back, Stanford grad Tobias Oriwol of Canada reached the semifinals with a 1:58.06 in his heat, but failed to qualify for the finals after clocking 1:58.74 in the semifinals.

The United States stubbed its collective toe in the second round of pool play, losing a three-goal lead in the fourth quarter and suffering a 9-9 deadlock with Spain on Wednesday.

The Americans (1-0-1) had what appeared to be a safe lead after Stanford grad Brenda Villa scored with 5:56 left to play and Courtney Mathewson made it 9-6 moments later off an assist from Villa. Maggie Steffens, who tied an Olympic single-game scoring record with seven goals in an opening win over Hungary, was held to a single goal by Spain.

Destinee Hooker scored 22 points and the U.S. improved to 3-0 with a three-set preliminary round victory over China at the London Olympics on Wednesday.

Megan Hodge added 18 points for the top-ranked U.S. team in the 26-24, 25-16, 31-29 win. Zeng Chunlei scored 10 points, including two aces, for No. 3 China, which fell to 2-1 in the preliminary round.

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo added eight kills and two blocks for 10 points while former Cardinal Logan Tom finished with five kills and two blocks.

Two-time defending Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor lost the first set of their preliminary round match against Austria on Wednesday night.

While the 21-17 defeat was the first set dropped in three Olympics, the Americans came back to win the second set 21-8 and took the third 15-10 to remain unbeaten in this, and every other, trip to the Olympics.

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