Stanford holds its own behind leader Georgia

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2014 - 12:12 AM

Members of the Stanford 200-yard medley relay team, Maddy Schaefter, Nicole Stafford, Sarah Haase and Felicia Lee, celebrated after winning the race Friday at the University Aquatic Center.

Photo: Andy Clayton-King • Associated Press,

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With one day to go in the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships, Stanford’s Felicia Lee didn’t want to think too far ahead. But after her team’s performance Friday, she felt good about its ability to score the top-four finish it coveted.

The Cardinal rolled to victories in the first three events Friday, earning championships in the 200-yard medley relay, the 400 individual medley and the 100 butterfly at University Aquatic Center to hold on to second place after two of the meet’s three days. Georgia remains on track to win its sixth NCAA team title, leading the standings with 369 points. Stanford has 297 and Cal 285.

Lee won the 100 fly and was part of the winning medley relay. She also finished third in the 100 back, and Thursday, she helped Stanford sweep the 200 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay.

“Coming into the year, our goal was to be in the top four,’’ Lee said. “We slid out of it last year and got eighth. That’s been motivating the entire team to train our best and prepare ourselves to get a trophy back at Stanford.’’

Cal, expected to challenge Georgia for the championship, saw those hopes fade after its 200 medley relay team was disqualified in the morning preliminaries. Cal finished with the fourth-fastest time but was disqualified when Cindy Tran left the blocks too early on the butterfly leg.

The meet concludes Saturday, with preliminaries at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m.

More gold for Missy

Cal star Missy Franklin finished second Thursday in her first NCAA event, the 500 freestyle. The four-time Olympic gold medalist said the loss “put a little fire’’ in her heart — one that pushed her to an American record Friday in the 200 freestyle.

Franklin won the race in 1:40.31, beating runnerup Shannon Vreeland of Georgia by nearly two seconds to earn her first NCAA title.

Unhappy return

One of the meet’s biggest upsets happened Friday, when Cal sophomore Rachel Bootsma failed to make the A final in the 100 backstroke. The defending NCAA champion swam the 15th-fastest time in the preliminaries — 52.56 seconds, well off her personal best of 50.13 — which put her into the consolation final. The Eden Prairie native finished 11th in a time of 51.85.

Bootsma also swam the leadoff leg of the disqualified relay and placed 25th in the 100 butterfly, which she finished as the NCAA runnerup last year. “It’s been a rough year, probably one of the toughest years of my life,’’ said Bootsma, who is entered in the 200 butterfly.

Gophers hold steady

The Gophers remain in ninth place with 91.5 points and ended Day 2 on a strong note, with a sixth-place finish in the 800 free relay. Maggie Keefer placed ninth in 3-meter diving, Becca Weiland was 14th in the 100 fly and Jessica Plant finished 15th in the 200 free. “We feel great about where we are,’’ coach Kelly Kremer said.

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