Coming off a big morning, the California Golden Bears looked to extend their lead over Stanford in night 3 of the 2013 Men’s PAC-12 Championship. While the big story from this week is Stanford’s unprecedented 31-year conference title streak under fire from their archrival, both teams (as well as Arizona and USC) have made it clear their main focus lies in Indianapolis in the coming weeks.
Cal appears to be using the same strategy it has for years; rest everyone just enough to qualify for NCAAs in their respective events, and look to light it up at the big one. Stanford, under first-year head coach Ted Knapp, has clearly taken a different path than past Skip Kenney-led squads. Rather than fully tapering a majority of his swimmers for this week, Knapp has proved he wants everyone to know that a great team performance at NCAA’s is Stanford’s number one priority.
To see a breakdown of who is in and who is out of NCAA’s, check at the bottom of this column, below the event recaps.
Men’s 400 IM
Cal led off the evening with an early 1-2 finish, thanks to freshman Josh Prenot (3:41.82 – new meet record) and sophomore Adam Hinshaw (3:44.36). When Prenot had the lead at the halfway mark (1:47.93 at the 200 mark), it was clear the Orcutt, CA native was going to run away with the race. An All-American-caliber breaststroker, Prenot played to his strength as we have seen him do so many times this season, splitting 30.37-30.82 on the 3rd 100 to open up a 3+ second lead on the field.
Stanford’s Matt Thompson touched third in 3:45.82. The senior, who was runner-up in this event a year ago, looks poised to jump into the upper echelon in this event in Indianapolis. Sophomore Eric Solis, a junior transfer from Arizona, jumped into the top 30 to likely qualify for his first NCAA championship with a 3:46.32.
Utah’s Kristian Kron was 5th (3:48.10), Ben Hinshaw of Cal was 6th (3:48.10), Robert Hommel of Stanford was 7th (3:48.69), and Arizona freshman Michael Meyer (3:51.21, 3:47.54 in prelims) touched 8th.
Two big swims out of the B final… In the first points heat of the evening, Drew Cosgarea and Bryan Offutt went 1-2 for the Cardinal, each qualifying for NCAAs with times of 3:44.40 and 3:46.30. That’s huge for Stanford; the North Baltimore tandem (who each scored last year) looked like they could miss qualifying for NCAA’s before tonight.
Men’s 100 fly
Cal went 1-2 for the second straight event. Tom Shields won his 3rd career PAC 12 100 fly title, busting the :45 barrier in the process (44.92). Teammate Marcin Tarczynski switched over from the 100 backstroke (his middle day event from last season) to finish 2nd for the Bears in 45.97. With a deep backstroke core (Shields, newcomers Tony Cox and Jacob Pebley), it will be interesting to see which event the junior from Poland elects to swim in Indianapolis. Considering the overall depth of the 100 back, don’t be shocked if he sticks to this event.
Giles Smith, runner up to Shields in this event at NCAA’s last year, touched 3rd in 46.16. Though the Wildcats look more prepared for this meet than previous years, that’s still a great time at this point in the season for an Arizona swimmer. USC freshman and former national high school record holder Maclin Davis was 4th in 46.54. Stanford teammates Gray Umbach and Jack Lane touched 5th and 6th in 46.57 and 46.68, respectively. Wade Allen of UCSB (brother of former Stanford sprint standout Jake Allen) was 7th in 46.69, and Alex Coci of ASU finished 8th in 46.82. With their times from today, all 8 of these swimmers are in position to make NCAA’s.
Men’s 200 free
USC joined the party with a 1-2 finish of their own: Cristian Quintero ran away with his second race of the weekend, posting the country’s third fastest time of 1:33.21. His teammate Dimitri Colupaev, who was last year’s champion in this event, posted his fastest time of the season in 1:34.44.
Cal freshman Trent Williams jumped into NCAA qualification contention, finishing 3rd in 1:35.22. Stanford teammates Thomas Stephens (1:35.44) and Tom Kremer (1:35.60) were 4th and 6th, split by Chad Bobrosky of USC (1:35.57). Will Hamilton from Cal (1:35.61) and Nick Soedel of Utah rounded out the head.
Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or won the console heat in 1:35.53.
Men’s 100 breast
American record holder Kevin Cordes was well under the 52.0 barrier again, winning in 51.65, though that was a few tenths slower than he was in prelims.
Sprint-freestyle extraordinaire Vlad Morozov swam a lifetime best time of 52.06 to finish 2nd, yet another USC School Record for him. He really is impressively versatile; remember that he was an Olympian in the 100 backstroke.
Cal senior Trevor Hoyt bettered his morning swim to touch 3rd in 52.78. Carl Mickelson of Arizona was 4th in 52.88.
Men’s 100 back
There were no really mind-blowing times in this race, but Cal’s Tom Shields got a good warmup for his upcoming double at NCAA’s, where he will be trying to repeat as the 100 fly/100 back champion. Here, his winning mark was 46.12, ahead of Stanford sophomore and defending Pac 12 Champions David Nolan. Nolan wasn’t able to get out on his first 50 quite as fast as he did in the prelims, and that results in a 46.38: a small addition for the Cardinal.
Cal freshman Jacob Pebley took 3rd in 46.51, and USC’s Luca Spinazzola was 4th in 46.66.
Men’s 400 medley relay
There was a ton of suspense after the final of this 400 medley relay, as Cal and USC finished in a bang-boom finish, followed by a touchpad malfunction.
When the times were officialized, however, it was Cal who took the win in 3:06.09, with the Trojans 2nd in 3:06.17. Those times both rank in the top 5 in the country this season, though Arizona’s swim from Winter Nationals is actually the fastest by a Pac-12 swim this season.
Among the most impressive splits were a 44.68 from Tom Shields as Cal’s butterflier, and a 51.59 from Vlad Morozov as USC’s breaststroker. USC only gives up a bit having Morozov as their breaststroker rather than their anchor, as Dimitri Colupaev still anchored in a very fast 42.22.
Arizona ended up 3rd in 3:06.80; Cordes was on the B-relay in the 200 medley relay, but here made it onto the A with a 50.91 split. Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or anchored them in a 42.2 of his own, thoguh a 47.3 leadoff by Friedemann cost them at the end.
Stanford was 4th in 3:08.08. They have moved Nolan back to the backstroke leg (46.20) with Mason Shaw splitting 53.40 on the breaststroke leg. That’s after having used Nolan as their breaststroker earlier this year.
Team Standings With 1 Day To Go
The team scores below include platform diving, though the platform won’t be formally included in the official scoring until Wednesday’s last finals session.
Headed into the final day, Cal has more than a 50-point margin over Stanford headed into the last day of competition. Don’t mistake that, however, for this meet being a lock for Cal. Stanford, last year, had a nearly 80-point margin headed into the meet’s final day, and then outscored Cal by another 30-or-so swimming points on the meet’s last day.
Stanford should have a scoring advantage in the 200 backstroke, if they hit their tapers; Cal isn’t quite as good in the 100 as they were in the 50, so the Cardinal have an opportunity to just about match there; the 200 breast will be a heavy swing in Cal’s favor; the 200 fly and the 1650 both could go either way.
Cal is in a very good position headed into the meet’s final day, but they can’t lose focus. If they have a bad day and Stanford a good one, then this meet could go either direction.
1. Univ of California – Berkeley 600
2. Stanford University 549
3. University of Southern Calif 420.5
4. University of Arizona 381
5. The University of Utah 235.5
6. Arizona State University 211
7. UC Santa Barbara 154
8. Cal Poly 74
We saw a number of new swimmers jump into NCAA qualification range today. Looking at the top times from this year and referencing the NCAA selection process (which calls for a maximum of 235 swimmers, plus 35 divers), the cut line for individual events appears to be 32 swimmers in some events, and 33 swimmers in others. Until the end of the weekend (after the last night of PAC 12s and the other remaining championship meets), we can only use our best estimates. Here are the individual qualifiers for each team, if the selection process was done tonight:
In addition, Nick Soedel has qualified for Utah.