The stakes will be high at Avery Aquatics Center on Saturday afternoon as the mighty No. 3 USC Trojans (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) come to the Farm to do battle with the No. 9 Cardinal (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) in a matchup of two Pac-12 men’s swimming powerhouses.
Stanford may be ranked six spots lower than the Men of Troy, but looks can be deceiving; the Cardinal has emerged victorious in the last six dual-meet matchups between the two teams. Additionally, Stanford is fresh off of a convincing upset against formerly top-ranked Arizona that gives the Card the momentum coming into this matchup. This will be the second tough matchup of the weekend for USC, who will go head to head with No. 6 Cal on Friday before their trip to Stanford.
The Trojans boast a formidable lineup of swimmers, highlighted by Olympic bronze medalist and defending Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month Vladimir Morozov. The junior has put up eye-popping times this year and holds the fastest time nationally in the 100-yard freestyle, along with top-10 times in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke. Morozov is an incredibly versatile swimmer who has the potential to do damage to the Cardinal in many areas.
Countering for Stanford will be sprinter Aaron Wayne, who has been a consistent threat in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. The senior placed fourth nationally in both events last season. Although Wayne has shown the capability to swim incredible times throughout his career, his times this year are not as competitive as they have been in years past. It will take his best effort to top Morozov on Saturday.
Morozov isn’t the only Olympic medalist who will be competing on Saturday. The Cardinal will send reliable sophomore Kristian Ipsen to the diving boards as the bronze medalist looks to continue to deliver strong performances. After a tremendous 2012 campaign in which he won the NCAA title in the 3-meter dive, Ipsen will be a significant contributor as Stanford aims to pull off the upset.
USC senior co-captain Alex Lendrum also looks to do some damage against Stanford in his strength, the backstroke. One of the nation’s fastest in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke, the returning All-American will attempt to continue his dominance against the Cardinal.
The true strength for the Cardinal squad is its versatility. At any given time, there are several athletes for every event who threaten to give Stanford a victory. Sophomore Drew Cosgarea has the potential to perform well in both short-distance and long-distance freestyle events, backstroke and the individual medley (IM). Sophomore David Nolan is also a threat in the breaststroke, IM, freestyle and backstroke. Both Cosgarea and Nolan have finished in first place in all of those events at various points this year, giving Stanford a multitude of options.
Although the Trojan swimmers seem to have a significant edge on paper, this Stanford squad is eagerly awaiting its chance to pull off a second consecutive upset of a top-three team. USC and Stanford meet at Avery on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at [email protected]