Men’s 200 Back Prelims
The Stanford men aren’t ready to give up their streak yet. They started out this session exactly how they needed to, with all four of their non-exhibitioned swimmers qualifying for the A-Final. That group was led by junior Will Gunderson, probably not the one of the four you’d beg to be the highest seed, in 1:43.03. David Nolan (1:43.04), Matt Thompson (1:43.11), and Matthew Swanston (1:43.30).
That’s big for the team scoring, but on an individual basis, the top three is really intriguing. Cal freshman Jacob Pebley cut half-a-second off of his season-best with a 1:41.11 for the top overall seed. Behind him is USC’s Alex Lendrum, who was a 1:42.35 for his best swim of this meet thus far, and a largely unknown freshman named Kristian Kron from Utah was 3rd in 1:42.96.
There are at least 6 guys in this race who have a claim to be NCAA A-finalists in the event, including B-final top seed Marcin Tarczynski who ended up disappointingly in 9th with a 1:43.61. Plus a few more who didn’t even final that very well could be NCAA scorers.
This is one of the deepest races we’ll see at this meet.
Men’s 100 Free Prelims
Aaron Wayne is one more swimmer stepping up for Stanford just when his team needs it the most, and he took the top seed in this 100 free headed into tonight in 42.96. Even unshaved, that matches his previous season-best.
USC’s Vlad Morozov was just behind in 42.98; we know that he’ll have better in him for finals, but to even get a top two finish after twice finishing 9th in preliminary rounds at this meet will be a big boost to the Cardinal.
This sprint field was again fairly slow like we saw in the 50; Cal sophomore Fabio Gimond took the 3rd seed in 43.36, followed by two more USC Trojans (Jack Wagner and Dimitri Colupaev). That puts USC in the driver’s seat in the 400 free relay.
Cal has one up after Seth Stubblefield lost a whale-of-a swim-off to Arizona junior Giles Smith. Both were faster than their first try, with Smith winning in 43.26-43.34.
Men’s 200 Breast Prelims
Cal fought back in this 200 breaststroke and made a big stamp, just as they expected to. They have three of the top four qualifiers headed into the final, led by senior Trevor Hoyt in 1:54.07 and freshman Josh Prenot in 1:54.96. Sophomore Christian Higgins (1:55.42) is just behind as the 4th seed.
Lurking in between will be Arizona’s Kevin Cordes, the NCAA Record holder. Don’t expect him to break his own record tonight, but do expect him to be better than his 1:54.18 seed time. Hoyt will score big bonus points if he can hold off Cordes.
USC’s Morten Clarskov will be the 5th seed in 1:55.47, and Stanford’s Mason Shaw continues to have a big impact for them, as he was 6th in prelims in 1:56.77. That’s a season-best by two-and-a-half seconds. Both teams saw positive improvements off of their projections in this race, though if Cal goes anywhere near 1-3-4 again tonight, that could be a nail-in-the-coffin.
Men’s 200 Fly Prelims
If this final day goes the way we expect it to, this 200 fly could be an epic ending to the individual swimming. The A-Final will be made up of four Cal swimmers, 3 Stanford swimmers, with USC’s Cary Wright getting the chance to play spoiler.
Among the Golden Bears who made it back are Tom Shields in 1:44.34 and Will Hamilton who was a 1:44.61. They were 2nd and 1st, respectively, at last year’s NCAA Championship meet in this event.
Stanford’s Gray Umbach, though, is in between them in 1:44.46. The freshman has a chance to really step up and be big for the Cardinal in this race.
Cal’s Austin Brown and Stanford’s Mack Montgomery, both seniors swimming their last Pac 12 Championship meet, tied for 5th, with Stanford freshman Tom Kremer sitting 6th in 1:45.02.
This is a race where we can absolutely expect faster times in finals.
First, a reminder of the scoring (including the platform diving), followed by the Ups and Downs for tonight’s final. “Ups” refer to swimmers in the A-Final, who are locked to a top 8 finish, and “Downs” refer to swimmers in the B-Final, who are locked to a second-8 finish.
The morning session went about as well as could have hoped for the Cardinal. Keep in mind that these results don’t include the 1650 timed-final, where on paper Stanford should have a small advantage. There’s always huge drops in the mile, though, which makes the outcome quite unpredictable.
After this, it’s going to have a lot to do with who ends up where. There is a 9 point difference between a win and an 8th-place finish. With at least 14 scorers tonight, and Cal likely to have a good relay that includes Tom Shields, this is going to be a tall task for the Cardinal.
Stanford still will have a big opportunity to make a move in the mile though. They need to capitalize there.
USC, who has been swimming very well, might not be in the hunt for the team title, but they have a huge opportunity to still have an impact on the final outcome. That’s especially true if this becomes a meet that is fought for over a few points.
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Scoring through 3 days, plus platform diving
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