After defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 168-111 two weekends ago, the No.5 Trojans will face a tough challenge this weekend when they take on the No. 6 Cal Bears and No. 3 Stanford Cardinal at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium.
USC is currently 3-1, while Cal and Stanford stand at 3-1 and 6-1 respectively. In the same way he expected challenges on the women’s side, USC coach Dave Salo knows this weekend will not be easy and might very well serve as a barometer for the squad’s postseason success.
“[This] is the beginning of the championship season for us,” Salo said last week, in regard to the men and women taking on the Bay Area teams. “[This weekend] will test our mettle.”
Cal, who won last year’s national title, is led by Tom Shields, who was the NCAA champion in two events last season: the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard fly. Also leading the Bears are Nolan Koon and Mathias Gydesen, both of whom are among the top in the country at their respective events.
For the Cardinal, Chad La Tourette is the main threat. He has not lost a long distance event in four years and is currently ranked first in the country in the 100-yard freestyle. Also contributing are Bobby Bollier and Matt Thompson, who are among the nation’s best in the 200-yard fly and 400-yard individual medley, respectively.
The Trojans have some of the best swimmers in the nation as well, led by sophomore Vladimir Morozov, who is first in the country in the 50-yard and 100-yard backstroke. Joining Morozov will be freshman Chad Bobrosky, who currently ranks ninth in the nation in the 200-yard freestyle, sophomore Dimitri Colupaev, the nation’s leader in the 200-yard freestyle and junior Alex Lendrum, who is ranked second in the 200-yard backstroke.
This year’s squad features four swimmers who were All-American selections last year — Morozov, Colupaev, senior Jeff Daniels and sophomore Jack Wagner.
The scoring for this meet will be different. Though the three teams will be competing on both days of the competition, USC will only go on record against Cal the first day and Stanford the second. After the weekend, the Trojans will take on Utah at home, followed by the Pac-12 championships. The NCAA championships qualifiers begin March 8.
The action for all three teams competing will begin Friday at 2 p.m. and will continue Saturday at noon, both days at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium.