200 medley relay
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE! The Cal men’s 200 medley relay was as good as advertised: dynamite. Cal stormed out to a lead early in this meet and took the men’s 200 medley in a Championship Record of 1:23.92. The Golden Bears put up four great splits (Guy Barnea-21.74, Damir Dugonjic-23.31, Graeme Moore-20.37, Nathan Adrian-18.50), but Dugonjic’s mark was the most impressive. After that swim, I don’t think there’s anyway that he doesn’t take the 100 breaststroke.
In an interesting bit of strategy (that runs counter to what they did last year, and throughout most of this season), Cal put Adrian on this relay instead of Josh Daniels. In 2010 (with effectively the same roster), they used Adrian at the 800 free relay, where they are especially weak. As we would see later on in this session, they kept him off of the 800 here. I expect that this is a strategy issue specifically for Pac-10’s (because they probably wouldn’t have won that race anyways) in order to feel very confident about four relay victories. With this fouresome, however, their time was the best in the country by a full-second, so even with the Adrian-for-Daniels swap, they still have a solid cushion.
The Arizona Wildcats touched the wall second, in 1:25.11, but didn’t earn any points after DQ’ing their relay. This was only after Adam Small split an 18.64 on the anchor leg. The DQ let the Stanford men jump up and take second (including a ridiculous 20.17 butterfly split from Austin Staab). It appears that both Staab and Cal’s Moore have a chance at splitting an unreal 19-point on the fly leg at NCAA’s.
USC (3rd-1:26.01) also had an awesome anchor split, with theirs being an 18.63 from freshman Vlad Morozov. All 4 of these relays (assuming Arizona time-trials later in the race) should be safely into NCAA’s.
800 free relay
Stanford, USC, and Cal (even without Adrian) all scored NCAA automatic-qualifying times in the men’s 800 free relay. Stanford scored the win in 6:19.17. There was nothing mindblowing on the relay, but they got four very solid swims to take this win. The best amongst those was a 1:34.01 on the third-leg from junior Morgan Priestly. This time puts them third in the country, though it’s a solid third behind Florida and Virginia.
Second-place USC (6:20.88) and third-place Cal (6:21.13) were much more up-and-down. USC had awesome bookend swims (1:33.37 lead-off from senior Lefert, 1:33.70 anchor from freshman Dimitri Colupaev), but also had a 1:37.6 and 1:36.4 in there. As for Cal’s relay, Tom Shileds’ lead-off was massive. I got a note from David Rieder facetiously asking “Shields out in a 1:08, is that fast?” My initial reaction was that it must’ve been a typo, thinking that it was a 100 split. It turns out that this was his 150 split, which yes, makes it extremely fast. He ended up touching in 1:32.88: the 5th best time in the country and best of his career by two seconds. This is an important benchmark swim for him, as the 200 free will be the second half of his dirty-double at NCAA’s (with the 100 fly), and he might need a little time-cushion to stay in the top 8.
Arizona was 4th in 6:24.23. That time probably won’t get invited on its own, but all four relay members are very likely to qualify in other events, so they can cobble the relay together in Minneapolis if they need to.
There’s never much significance to day 1 scores at these meets, since the meet schedules are so brief (that is, aside from DQ’s). Stanford and Cal both did exactly what they needed to do on the first day, as did USC. Arizona will now be fighting an uphill battle to get back into the top four, though I expect them to get there on the strength of Cory Chitwood’s individual events.
1. Stanford Cardinal 74
2. Cal 72
3. USC 66
4. UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos 58
5. Arizona State Sun Devils 54
6. Arizona Wildcats 30
7. Cal Poly Mustangs 26