ORLANDO, Fla. — Cal State Northridge lost one of its key women swimmers at the NCAA Division II championships before anyone jumped in the pool Friday, but the men's team reclaimed first place with a couple of fine performances on the one-meter diving board.
CSUN swim Coach Pete Accardy's day began when butterfly ace Michelle Barnett became ill and was unable to participate in the day's events. The ailment dealt a serious setback to CSUN's attempt to challenge the University of South Florida for the women's title.
After coming within 15.5 points of South Florida on Thursday, CSUN's women were outscored by 52.5 points on Friday. South Florida has 360 points, while CSUN is second with 292.5 and Clarion (Pa.) College is third with 235.
"At this point in the meet, losing Michelle has hurt us a great deal," Accardy said.
Barnett didn't show any signs of illness while swimming Thursday night's 200-yard butterfly. She swam a strong 2:06.84 second place behind teammate Crista Lawrence, who set a national record in the event.
"In a meet like this," said Accardy, "emotion has a lot to do with the results, and losing Michelle Barnett is going to affect the girls psychologically.
"I think we can win with the guys, but it will be tough to catch South Florida without Michelle."
Senior Michele Hampton did her part, however, by winning the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:31.63. On Wednesday, she anchored the record-breaking 800-yard freestyle relay and finished second in the 500 freestyle in 4:55.77.
Hampton, who set four national Division II records as a freshman, has had trouble similar to Barnett's in the past.
"(Hampton) has gotten very sick before the last two championship meets, but she's showing what she can do this year," said Accardy. "She is very competitive."
While the women were having problems, CSUN's men dominated the one-meter springboard events.
The Matadors outscored Cal State Bakersfield, 51-0, in diving on Friday to regain sole possession of first place with 323 points. Bakersfield has 307 points, while Wright State of Ohio is third with 193.
Junior Roland King led the way for Northridge by winning first place on the one-meter board. Teammate Blair Nogosek placed second. Their scores counted for 37 of Northridge's 51 diving points.
"It's a swimming and diving meet and we have both," said Accardy. "Bakersfield is not very strong in the diving."
Bakersfield's star freshman, Richard Ford of Australia, has been the main obstacle in CSUN's attempt to gain its fifth straight national championship.
He set his second record of the meet Friday with a 1:39.52 in the 200-yard freestyle, and anchored the winning 400-yard medley relay team.
"If you take Ford off their team they wouldn't be in the top five," said Accardy. "When you have a guy winning and breaking records, it keeps everybody going."
While CSUN has become accustomed to being the favorite at the nationals, Accardy views Bakersfield as the team to beat in the future.
"They've signed a good coach," said Accardy, referring to Ernie Maglischo, "and he's been given a lot of money to work with for his recruiting efforts.
"We have no significant money to speak of, so being realistic, we feel we have a good program. . . . The difference in financial aid will make it difficult to stay with them in the future."
Accardy is more concerned, however, about today than the future.
Entering Friday's final event, Bakersfield was trailing Northridge by 65 points--but the Roadrunners captured first place in the 400-yard medley relay with a clocking of 3:23.42, a national record. Northridge was fourth in the relay with a time of 3:26.54.
That brought Bakersfield back within 16 points of Northridge going into today's competition.
"(Saturday) is going to be a barn burner," Accardy said.
"We should have put it away after the second day and didn't. We should have put it away after the third day and didn't. Now we'll have to go to the final day.