Day 1 Predictions | Day 2 Predictions
And in we go to the final day of the 2012 Women’s NCAA Championships. This will again be a very balanced day between the top two teams – though I think that the Georgia Bulldogs have the overall scoring advantage on this day. They’ve got more milers, they’ve got more depth in the 200 yard events, and they’ve got what should be a much better 400 free relay. My guess would be that Cal has the lead coming into this day, but not necessarily at the end.
1. Wendy Trott (Georgia – #2 seed)
2. Haley Anderson (USC – #1 seed)
3. Ashley Steenvoorden (Minnesota – #11 seed)
4. Stephanie Peacock (North Carolina – #3 seed)
5. Lindsay Gendron (Tennessee – #7 seed)
Darkhorse: Chelsea Franklin (Arkansas – #14 seed)
Wendy Trott has won the last three NCAA Championships in this event, but that by no means make number four a lock. We’ve seen it happen before, notably Gemma Spofforth getting knocked off in the 200 back when she was a senior by Kate Fesenko.
Here’s what Trott likes to do in this race – she confidently “hangs around” for the first 900 yards. She then puts in a huge kick as her opponents start to fade. I think that in a vacuum, Anderson might be able to take her out. But the 1650 is the most cerebral race, and Trott just breaks spirits with that mid-race kick. Give her the sweep, and the NCAA Record of 15:39.14 held by Janet Evans.
Chelsea Franklin has a very good training group down in Arkansas, and is at least 10 seconds better than her 16:08 seed time. She’s going to put a huge hurt into this race.
1. Elizabeth Beisel (Florida – #1 seed)
2. Dominique Bouchard (Missouri – #4 seed)
3. Maya DiRado (Stanford – #2 seed)
4. Terese Crippen (Florida – #8 seed)
5. Sarah Denninghoff (Arizona – #12 seed)
Darkhorse: Kelsey Gaid (Georgia – #11 seed)
This season, Elizabeth Beisel is way ahead of the rest of the country in this race. Assuming she doesn’t sleepwalk through this meet on her way to the Olympic Trials, this is a pretty good bet to win. The rest of the positions are going to be very interesting. We know that Bouchard finishes hard, and is not within two seconds of her season-best for this year – even with improved speed. Denninghoff has improved more than any of the Wildcats’ big sophomore class this year.
Georgia’s Kelsey Gaid is good enough to go a 1:51 or 1:52. She just has to show that she can show up in finals and swim a season-best time. If she does that, she could be as high as third.
1. Anna Vanderpool-Wallace (Auburn – #1 seed)
2. Liv Jensen (Cal – #3 seed)
3. Margo Geer (Arizona – #2 seed)
4. Megan Romano (Georgia – #4 seed)
5. Karlee Bispo (Texas – #5 seed)
Darkhorse: Megan Detro (Ohio State)
I think this race could go pretty-well to chalk, with the exception of Jensen jumping Geer. That’s on the basis that if Jensen has worked on her endurance enough to make such huge improvements in her 200, her 100 is going to have to leap forward even more.
Detro (along with many of her teammates) had a rough NCAA Championship meet last year, but the Buckeyes are very confident this year that they’ve timed their taper better and are going to be ready to go in Auburn. If so, Detro could sneak very close to the 48-second cut-line.
1. Caitlin Leverenz (Cal – #1 seed)
2. Breeja Larson (Texas A&M – #2 seed)
3. Haley Spencer (Minnesota – #3 seed)
4. Michelle McKeehan (Georgia – #8 seed)
5. Kasey Carlson (USC – #6 seed)
Darkhorse: Katie Meili (Columbia – #23 seed)/Amanda Rutqvist (South Carolina – #17 seed)
The 200 breaststroke will relive what was probably the best race of last year’s NCAA Championship. This is the race where, last year, the lead changed hand about 4 times in the last 10 yards. Haley Spencer had an emotional win to knock her senior teammate Jillian Tyler off of the medal-stand, but the top four were separated by only two-tenths of a second (which is gut-wrenching in a stroke as rhythmic as breaststroke). Leverenz is already into the 2:05’s this year, and I don’t think anyone has the potential to get as low as she will this year.
Kasey Carlson dropped the 100 free this year to focus on this 200 breaststroke, which is a huge career-progression for her. She’s looked like anything-but the struggles she’s had in this race in her career.
There’s a couple of good darkhorses in this race. Columbia’s Katie Meili it would seem used her taper to get into this meet, but this weekend at the Columbus Grand Prix has shown that she’s carrying that over incredibly well. South Carolina’s Amanda Rutqvist hasn’t been good all season, but is by-far the SEC Record holder.
1. Katinka Hosszu (USC – #1 seed)
2. Cammile Adams (Texas A&M – #3 seed)
3. Alyssa Anderson (Arizona – #6 seed)
4. Sara Isakovic (Cal – #7 seed)
5. Kelsey Floyd (Tennessee – #4 seed)
Darkhorse: Rachel Naurath (Virginia – #42 seed)
This COULD turn into a monster upset. Last year, Hosszu won the race easily over Adams, but that required her running-away on the final 50. It was a race until then. This year, Adams has demonstrated that she, too, can close very well, so there’s a chance she’ll hang with Hosszu a lot longer – and in a race as mentally grueling as this, being in the race in the last five strokes can lead to crazy finishes.
Those two should be well ahead of the rest of the field, much as they were last season. Isakovic is a great butterflier and a great 200 freestyler, it’s about time she put those together to make a breakthrough in this 200 fly. West Virginia’s Amanda Nugent is due recognition as the #2 seed, but a 1:54 shouldn’t make it into the top 5.
This darkhorse pick is almost too easy. Naurath has only been a 1:59 this season, and wasn’t actually invited in this event. She’s 1:54 or 1:53 good, but didn’t show up at NCAA’s. She’s all out for the National Meet this year, and without Lauren Perdue they need her to step up as a leader for this team.
400 Free Relay
1. Auburn (#3 seed)
2. Stanford (#1 seed)
3. Arizona (#2 seed)
4. Georgia (#4 seed)
5. Texas (#5 seed)
Darkhorse: Boise State (uninvited)
Vanderpool-Wallace is going to lead off the Auburn relay in a 46-mid, or anchor in a 45-high, and nobody else in this field is even going to be in that same stratosphere. The big pressure is on freshman Megan Fonteno for the Tigers. She’ll probably swim prelims, though Brett Hawke then has the luxury to swap her out for Olivia Scott or Emily Bos in the final if he doesn’t like what he sees.
Stanford will bring in Maddie Schaeffer and Andie Murez, both of whom will have big meets. Plus Sam Woodward and Betsy Webb are having great seasons, and Maya DiRado is actually the fastest returning member of this relay. They probably have the best 5-deep in the country. Georgia is coming off of an American Record, but they are replacing two huge pieces. The young Arizona relay should be able to pick them off. Texas is very deep in their sprints, and that’s a solid top-5 relay
Boise State earned a relay invite in the 200, but this 400 could be even better in my opinion (more on why at another time).