For the second day in a row, the University of California pummeled an Arizona team in a home dual televised on the Pac-12 network. Friday night it was Arizona State, and Saturday it was the University of Arizona paying a visit to the #1-ranked Golden Bears.
Arizona was coming off a meet of their own, a road loss to Stanford up in Palo Alto Friday night.
Cal was as thoroughly dominant as you’d expect the #1-ranked team in the nation to be at home, giving up only 9 wins to Zona out of the 32 events.
Four of those were to a pair of Arizona studs on the men’s side: Kevin Cordes and Rafael Quintero. Emma Schoettmer also had a great day for the Wildcats, winning both women’s breaststrokes.
But those efforts weren’t enough to overcome Cal, which got 3 wins from Olympian Missy Franklin and two apiece from Ryan Murphy, Marcin Tarczynski, Seth Stubblefield and Jeremy Bagshaw.
The meet opened with a Jeremy Bagshaw win in the 1000 free, slotted first to better accommodate the TV scheduling. Bagshaw was an impressive 8:57.41 to run away with things in a Cal 1-2-3 sweep. Bagshaw would also lead a 1-2-3 finish in the 500 free, going 4:24.30.
Arizona was swimming without star butterflyer Giles Smith, who had an uncharacteristically tough night in Stanford Friday and didn’t compete Saturday. That weakened Zona’s stellar medley relay, and with Cal adding breaststroker Chuck Katis, a Harvard transfer, to the mix, the Golden Bears were able to steal the 200 medley relay away from the Wildcats.
Ryan Murphy was an outstanding 21.80 leading off, staking the newly-acquired Katis to a half-second lead. Katis was a very-fast 24.2, but Zona’s monster breaststroker Kevin Cordes went 23.8 to almost even things up. Butterflyers Josh Prenot and Andrew Porter (filling in for Smith) were nearly identical split-wise, but Tyler Messerschmidt‘s 19.3 anchor was the deciding factor for Cal, which went 1:26.89 to Zona’s 1:27.58.
That relay featured some of the biggest performers for Cal, which looks like a legitimate contender for the national title with the addition of Katis. Murphy won both backstroke races, putting up a near-season-best 1:41.88 in the 200. He also went 46.85 in the 100 back, topping teammate Jacob Pebley in both races.
Messerschmidt rode the momentum from his huge split to a win in the 50 free, where he was the only 19 in the field at 19.81. Prenot took home the 200 IM in 1:46.77 near the end with the meet already well in hand.
Katis, swimming in his second meet with Cal, hit his first real test as a Pac-12 breaststroker going up against Cordes. The Arizona junior, who leads the NCAA by a longshot in both breaststroke races, had plenty enough speed to top his new conference opponent, going 1:56.64 in the 200 breast (Katis was 1:57.75) and 52.92 in the 100 (Katis went 53.96).
The other Arizona athlete Cal had no answer for was diver Rafael Quintero. The sophomore scored 372.08 on 1-meter and 403.05 on 3-meter to easily win both.
Those were the only Zona wins on the men’s side, though, as Seth Stubblefield (200 free and 100 free) and Marcin Tarczynski (200 fly and 100 fly) cleaned up the remaining events for Cal. Stubblefield was a quick 1:37.41 in the 200 and 43.99 in the 100, while Tarczynski was 1:45.99 in the 200 fly and 47.84 in the 100 of that stroke.
Murphy, Stubblefield, Tarczynski and Fabio Gimondi combined for a win in the 400 free relay, going 2:56.68 to close the meet. Murphy was a quick 43.92 leading off in his fourth great swim of the day.
Arizona actually led early on the women’s side after Tjasa Oder won the 1000 free in 9:57.13. But that lead was short-lived as Cal went 1-2 in the 200 medley relay. The Golden Bears are so loaded with relay pieces, their biggest struggle this season has been figuring out how to best use all their relay talent come Pac-12s and NCAAs. They seem to be coming to some conclusions with just a month or so left, putting forward the same 200 medley relay lineup as last night: Rachel Bootsma, Marina Garcia, Cindy Tran and Kaylin Bing. That crew went 1:40.41, while the B team was 1:41.59, touching out Arizona’s A by just .02. That finish was in doubt the entire final 50 yards with Arizona stud Margo Geer bearing down hard on the anchor leg. Geer split 22.0, but it wasn’t enough to pass Cal’s Camille Cheng.
Then the 200 free was a 1-2-3 Cal finish as the Lady Golden Bears started to exert their dominance. That was especially impressive since Rachael Acker (1:47.03), Caroline Piehl (1:48.31) and Elizabeth Pelton (1:48.43) all got to the wall before Arizona’s Bonnie Brandon (1:48.60), one of the elite swimmers in the NCAA in her own right.
Missy Franklin led a second-straight 1-2-3 Cal finish in the 100 back. The freshman and reigning World Champ went 53.46. She would also go on to win the 100 free (48.47) and 500 free (4:46.79) for Cal, continuing to prompt speculation about which events she’ll wind up in come NCAAs. Though that 4:46 is far from her best in the 500, that race has moved from an outside possibility to a near-certainty for the country’s best all-around female swimmer.
Cal chose some of its top dogs to go after Arizona’s tough duo of Bonnie Brandon and Margo Geer. Reigning American record-holder Elizabeth Pelton topped Brandon in the 200 back 1:55.96 t0 1:56.45, Franklin beat Brandon in the 500 and Geer in the 100, and Kaylin Bing put together a 22.80 in the 50 free to touch out Geer’s 22.85, holding Arizona’s two stars winless on the day.
The Wildcat who did get loose for big point was breaststroker Emma Schoettmer. After falling to Stanford’s Katie Olsen who was red-hot Friday night, Schoettmer seemed to gain a little bit of that fire against Cal, winning the 100 breast in 1:02.27 over Yvette Kong‘s 1:02.46 and powering away from Marina Garcia in the 200 breast to win in 2:13.30.
Arizona also got a 200 fly win in a tight race from Ashley Evans (2:00.35) and a 3-meter diving victory from freshman Michal Bower (297.30).
Cal managed a split in diving when Anne Kastler won on 1-meter late, scoring 294.68 to top Bower. Cal also got wins from Cindy Tran (54.92, 100 fly) and Celina Li (1:59.42, 200 IM) before winning the 400 free relay to close competition. The Cal “A” squad went 3:18.68 thanks to Missy Franklin‘s 48.6 split, the fastest in the field ahead of Margo Geer, who swam right next to Franklin and went 49.0. Zona was 3:20.94 on the relay to take second ahead of Cal’s second team’s 3:21.39.