Oct. 3, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's swimming & diving program was picked to win its third consecutive title, while the Gauchos men's team was selected to reclaim the title they lost to UC Irvine last season, according to the 2007-08 Big West Swimming & Diving Coaches Preseason Poll released today. The women's pick was unanimous as the Gauchos earned all six first-place votes for a total of 36 points, while the men's squad collected four top picks for an overall score of 34 points.
Over the years, the Gauchos have dominated the league with the men's team claiming 25 team titles and the women's team posting 10 titles. The Gauchos did lose a few key athletes in the off-season due to graduation, but they have plenty of up and coming stars to take over the lead roles. Last year Scott Vogelgesang and Anne Marie May were tabbed 2006-07 Men's and Women's Big West Freshman of the Year after outstanding performances at the Big West championship. On the women's side, Liz Wagner and Katy Freeman will add depth to the Gaucho squad, while the men's team will look for help from Chris Good, Brooks Felton and Daniel McClary.
After claiming their first men's title, the UC Irvine Anteaters enter the new season with a second-place pick in the coaches poll with two first-place votes and a total of 34 points. Leading the way for the Anteaters are Eddie Erazo and 2006-07 Big West Men's Swimmer of the Year Randall Tom, who both return for their senior years following impressive showings at the NCAA Championships. The UC Irvine women's program, which welcomes back 2005-06 Co-Swimmer of the Year Chelsea Nagata and 2006-07 Swimmer of the Year Lyndsay DePaul, tallied 22 points to finish in tie for third place.
Grabbing second place on the women's side was the Pacific Tigers with 26 total points. The Pacific women's team brings back the top performers from last season's squad that placed second at the conference championship with 2005-06 Co-Swimmer of the Year Ja-Neil Bragg, Jun Huang and Sarah Gutierrez. The men's squad received 19 points to claim the fourth pick.
Rounding out the six-team field are UC Davis, Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge. The Aggie women's team tied for third with 22 points and the men's squad finished third with 23 points. In both the men and women's polls, the Mustangs and Matadors finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The Gauchos will open this weekend with an intrasquad meet on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 am at Campus Pool. The official season will begin on Oct. 13 when the women host UCLA and Oregon State. This year's Big West Conference championship will take place Feb. 20-23, 2008, at the Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif.
2007-08 Big West Men's & Women's Swimming & Diving Coaches Poll
1. UC Santa Barbara (4) 34
2. UC Irvine (2) 31
3. UC Davis 23
4. Pacific 19
5. Cal Poly 12
6. Cal State Northridge 7
1. UC Santa Barbara (6) 36
2. Pacific 26
T3. UC Davis 22
T3. UC Irvine 22
5. Cal Poly 13
6. Cal State Northridge 7
( ) - first place votes
Release courtesy of the Big West Conference