By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 18, 2005
Rivalry will be in the air this weekend at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
The Arizona swim and dive teams open their Pacific 10 Conference schedule against Southern California today at 2 p.m., followed by a split schedule for the Wildcats tomorrow.
The No. 6 Arizona women take on No. 7 UCLA, as the men face University of California, Santa Barbara. Both meets are at noon.
The longstanding rivalries among the teams have gone in the Wildcats' favor over the last six seasons.
The men's team has a 4-3 record against the Trojans in that span, and the women are 5-2 and 6-1 against USC and the Bruins, respectively.
For the No. 10 USC women's team, this will be its first dual meet of the season. The Trojans last competed in the University of Pacific Invitational in Stockton, Calif., where junior Cait Connealy took first place in one event and second place in two others.
The No. 8 USC men last competed in their home pool against Texas, losing 157-143.
The No. 7 UCLA women took third place at the SMU Classic in Dallas on Oct. 21.
"These are very strong teams. This is going to be a very good dual meet," said Arizona swimming head coach Frank Busch. "But we are in a place where I don't know what to expect."
Busch said that despite the Wildcat teams both sweeping Wisconsin and the women sweeping Penn State at the teams' last meet Oct. 28 at Hillenbrand, he was disappointed in their spirit.
"The freshmen are trying to find their spot," he said. "It takes time to gel as a group."
Busch said that he expects things to fall into place quickly, and that he is expecting good performances overall this weekend.
"I hope the team is ready to go," he said. "This is going to be our most competitive meet thus far. It's a matter of making sure we are in the moment."
For the divers, Arizona head coach Michele Mitchell-Rocha said she has similar expectations.
USC boasts redshirt senior Blythe Hartley, who is not only the defending NCAA champion in the 3m springboard event but also a gold medalist at the 2005 World Championships.
Yet it was Arizona's redshirt senior, Tiffany Manning, who took the 3m springboard title last weekend at the Trojan Diving Invitational in Los Angeles.
Mitchell-Rocha said Hartley has been suffering from a torn stomach muscle, and Manning said that she is just looking to do her best this weekend.
"I just want to stay consistent," Manning said. "As long as I know I put the effort in, it shouldn't matter (what happens). I'm just going to try not to blow any dives."
For the Wildcat men, Mitchell-Rocha said she anticipates senior John Collier will be tough on both the 1m and 3m springboard.