Youth continued to prevail on day 3 at the Pac-12 Championships. Not a single one of the day’s 5 individual events were one by a senior – two went to freshmen, one went to a sophomore, and two more went to juniors. Even Stanford’s winning 400 medley relay included two freshmen (though there was a senior on that one).
That included two more titles by the vaunted Stanford freshman class, hailed as among the best ever, to bring the groups total to three.
Arizona swam better on Friday than they did on Thursday, but that seems owed to the fact that their sprint group is much closer to a rest than is their distance group, and this day is heavy on sprint races. By comparison, Arizona’s 400 IM’ers and 200 freestylers still struggled.
USC’s Vlad Morozov ended the meet with a dangerous medley relay 100 free split, considering where his overall meet has put his training position.
Stanford freshman Drew Cosgarea completed an IM sweep for the Cardinal freshman class (after David Nolan’s win in the 200 on Thursday). He won this race in 3:44.97, which barely sneaks under his lifetime-best (and 8 seconds faster than his season-best).
His senior teammate Matt Thompson also swam well in this race to take 2nd in 3:45.64. That’s about where he needs to be to sneak into an A-final at NCAA’s.
While one Thompson had a great swim, the other, Arizona’s Austen Thompson, could only muster a B-Final. He did recover (as Arizona has been doing a good job of) in finals to win that B-heat, but still touched only in 3:51.02. That’s far off of his country-leading time set in December that was a full 12 seconds faster. Similar to Matt Barber’s 500 free from Thursday, one has to start to wonder if three seconds is enough time for these Wildcats to make double-digit drops and get to the times they need to at NCAA’s.
Stanford sophomore Bryan Offutt took 3rd in 3:46.56. He’s had a huge breakout meet. That’s roughly 12 seconds of combined improvements off of his lifetime bests (the 500 free on Thursday as well), and he’s still got a 1650 to swim on Saturday.
The top five, including Cal freshman Adam Hinshaw in 3:47.52 and Stanford’s Eirik Ravnan with a prelims time of 3:47.09, should all be in to NCAA’s.
Also of note, in 7th was UCSB’s Randy Aakhus. His 3:48.08 from prelims is the 2nd-best time in school history behind only the great Glenn Peoples from all the way back in 1992.
Cal’s Tom Shields coming into this meet was the only butterflier in the country to go under 46-seconds this year. He very nearly jumped the next hurdle with a 45.04 win in the men’s 100 fly. Unless someone comes out of nowhere, it looks like Shields will have room to spare in this race at NCAA’s. That will work out well for him, as it looks like he’s again attempting the 100 fly/100 back double on the second day of Nationals.
His teammate Mathias Gydesen put up a 46.07 for second that ties him for 4th-best in the country this year. Having two of the five best butterfliers in the country is going to be huge for the Golden Bears next month, as it gives them much-needed medley relay flexibility.
In this race, Arizona finally got some momentum going with third-and-fourth place finishes from Woody Joye (46.84) and Giles Smith (46.90). For Joye, in his first semester as a Wildcat, that’s already within two-tenths of his best time from last year’s NCAA Championships.
Stanford freshman Jack Lane was the only other swimmer under 47, with a 46.96 for 5th.
Notably, USC only had a single scorer in this race, Chase Bloch in 10th in 47.68. They have a big hole in the butterfly races – but junior Matt Voell is swimming fairly well this season. He won the non-scoring C-Final in 48.87.
USC’s Dimitri Colupaev gave USC their first Big 12 Championship of the meet with a win in this 200 free in 1:34.20. That swim is despite being very much off of his rest, and eight-tenths slower than he was mid-year.
This is a winnable event for Colupaev at NCAA’s given how incredibly weak this field is Nation wide. There were a pair of good 1:33’s at Big Easts (from Notre Dame’s Frankie Dyer and Louisville’s Joao de Lucca), but Colupaev is really one of only two men (him and Dax Hill) who seem to have positioned themselves for a shot at this title at Nationals.
Stanford’s Rob Andrews took 2nd in 1:34.84, and Cal freshman Tyler Messerschmidt took 3rd in 1:35.24. As a junior in high school, he was one of the country’s best in this race, but through his senior season he shifted his focus to the sprints. Now, with Cal putting some work into their middle-distance core, he is coming back to this race, and doing so very well with this lifetime best.
USC’s Cristian Quintero and Vlad Morozov finished 5th and 6th in this race. Both were faster in prelims, but three A-finalists (Mike Godbe in 8th) could re-establish the Trojans as one of the best 800 free relays in the country, despite graduating three off of their relay from last season.
Stanford, who won that 800 on Wednesday, also put three in this final.
Cal’s Will Hamilton mirrored his 500 from Thursday by having a breakout swim in the B-Final, which he won in 1:35.83. Teammate Sam Metz was just behind in 1:35.97. Hamilton’s challenge at NCAA’s will be swimming fast in the morning. If he does, he could score in this race at Nationals.
Arizona continued their day three momentum with a win in the 100 breaststroke by Carl Mickelson in 52.74, which was within a tenth of his season-best time. The 100 swimmers overall for the Wildcats seem to be in a bit more rested shape than those who specialize in races 200 yards and longer.
Cal finished 2nd and 3rd, with Nolan Koon touching in 52.90 and Martin Liivamagi in 52.94. Liivamagi has really brought his 100 up to par with his 200 this season – he’s swum 5 of his 6 career-best times this season alone.
Arizona’s Kevin Cordes took 4th in 53.32. Cal occupied the rest of the top-6 times by Trevor Hoyt and Christian Higgins.
In a matchup of two titans of the conference, Stanford freshman David Nolan continued his unbeaten streak at this meet by taking a 2nd Pac-12 title in 45.76. That just bested Tom Shields, on his 2nd swim of the day, in 45.99. Those two both have big drops left to come at NCAA’s.
Cal’s Mathias Gydesen, also swimming on a double, took 3rd in 47.00.
400 Medley Relay
Stanford won their 3rd relay in 4 tries at this meet with a 3:07.32 win in this 400 medley relay. That ties Michigan’s swim from Big Ten’s as the 2nd-best in the country, behind only Arizona.
The four Cardinal on the relay were Nolan (45.84), Curtis Lovelace (53.32), Jack Lane (46.09), and Aaron Wayne (42.07).
Cal came in four-tenths behind despite a lightning middle-two of Koon (52.49) and Shields (44.88).
Arizona finished 3rd in 3:09.47, including a 52.19 split from Mickelson, the individual 100 champion. Morozov anchored USC’s 4th-place relay in 41.21, which is easily the best sprint split in the country this year. He’s nowhere near rested, which is alarming.
Arizona’s Adam Small didn’t earn any official placings on the day. He DQ’ed the 100 fly in prelims, and wasn’t on Arizona’s medley relays.
He did, however, end up with two fantastic times. First, in afternoon time trials, he clocked a 19.34 in the 50 free. Had he swum that time in the standard race, he would have been the event champion. As it is, that is 5th-best in the country, and will ensure him a spot at the NCAA Championships, which had Wildcat fans on edge up until this swim.
He would also swim a 47.62 in the 100 fly in an evening time trial.
The Cal men would later time trial a 200 free relay, this time with Tom Shields added to the group. That experiment was successful, as they swam a 1:17.53 that is the 2nd-fastest in the country this year (and would have won the relay earlier in the meet). UC-Santa Barbara also turned in an NCAA-Invite earning time of 1:17.87 in that race, which will ensure that their three star seniors finish off their career at NCAA’s.
Stanford continued to hold a lead over Cal by by roughly 80 points. That’s about the same gap that Stanford put in through the first two rounds of diving. The Cardinal are in good position to seal up number 31 on Saturday in what should be a triple-digit victory.
1. Stanford 623.5
2. Cal 544
3. Arizona 382
4. USC 324
5. Utah 185.5
6. Arizona State 175.5
7. UC Santa Barbara 164.5
8. Cal Poly 94