Pac 12 Men
- Dates: Wednesday, March 4th – Saturday, March 7th; Prelims 11AM/Finals 6PM (Diving February 25th-February 28th with women’s Pac-12s)
- Location: Federal Way, WA (Pacific Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: California (results)
- Live Results: TBD
- Live Video (If available): TBD
- Championship Central
The dynamics of the Pac 12 Championships have shifted significantly over the past couple years. For the last 10+ years of Stanford’s 31-year conference winning streak, the story line was fairly consistent year-to-year. Stanford and Cal would battle it out, with the Cardinal putting their arch rivals away on the final day of competition. Arizona would essentially swim through the meet, saving all of their focus for NCAA’s. USC would make some noise, but never truly contend. Nobody else at the meet really had a shot at contending in many individual events or relays.
That’s all changed. The 2015 Men’s Pac 12 Swimming and Diving Championships kick off tonight, as the two-time defending Cal look to overcome a big diving deficit from Stanford and USC. The Bears are a bit thinner than a year ago, but with Ryan Murphy, Seth Stubblefield, and Josh Prenot leading the way, Cal is in position to make in it a third straight title en route to their NCAA title defense efforts in late March.
Stanford is working to rebound from a disappointing 2013-14 season, returning virtually the entire core from last year’s team, and adding key freshmen Andrew Liang, Liam Egan, and Curtis Ogren. The coaching staff made a concerted effort over the past couple of seasons to rest less for this meet in favor of NCAA’s, but don’t be surprised if you see the Cardinal reverse that trend and keep things close. While they don’t have as many NCAA scorers on their roster as Cal, their team is built to succeed at Pac 12’s. Having a 100+ point diving edge from Kristian Ipsen and company doesn’t hurt, either.
With Cristian Quintero back in the fold and some excellent diving of their own, USC should come the closest they have to the top of the team podium in a long, long time. Stud sophomores Reed Malone, Santo Condorelli, and Dylan Carter will make the Trojans a nightmare to deal with in freestyle relays, and they have plenty of stroke scorers, too. However, the loss of Maclin Davis hurts.
Arizona is a bit of an enigma this season. The Wildcats have some of the top talent in the conference, but are lacking the depth we’re used to seeing. For as long as we can remember, Arizona has focused heavily on their fall taper meet and swam through Pac 12’s. With maybe five swimmers safely through to NCAA’s at this point, though, we may see a very different strategy from a majority of the team this time around.
Don’t look now, but there’s an exciting program coming out of Salt Lake City. Utah has continued to excel under second year head coach Joe Dykstra, including dominant regular season wins over Arizona and UNLV, and nearly upsetting USC at home. Alex Fernandes, Bence Kiraly, and Nick Soedel give the Utes some serious firepower. All told, the Utes have legitimate chances at winning at least four Pac 12 titles this weekend.
Arizona: Kevin Cordes (senior breaststroker), Michael Meyer (junior IMer), Andrew Sovero (junior breaststroker), Brian Stevens (junior sprinter), Bradley Tandy (senior sprint freestyler) –
We all know Kevin Cordes and Bradley Tandy. Both are returning NCAA champions, and Cordes spent the previous two seasons scorching the NCAA record books. So far this year, though, he’s looked almost human). Meyer is a returning NCAA individual scorer, while Sovero and Stevens have really come into their own this season.
Arizona State: Tadas Duskinas (sophomore butterflyer), Thibaut Capitaine (junior breaststroker), Richard Bohus (sophomore backstroker), Zac Dalby (senior IMer) –
Duskinas is having a career year, and has a chance at making the A-final this weekend. Combined with Capitaine, who is seeded in the top eight in both breaststrokes, and Bohus, the Sun Devils have the makings of some pretty good relays.
Cal: Chuck Katis (junior breaststroker), Tyler Messerschmidt (senior sprinter), Ryan Murphy (sophomore backstroker), Josh Prenot (junior IMer), Seth Stubblefield (senior sprinter) –
These five alone could come close to finishing fourth as a team this weekend. Murphy is biggest name, and the duo of Messerschmidt and Stubblefield have carried the Cal sprint group throughout their respective careers. Prenot is one of the five most well-rounded swimmers in the country.
Stanford: Connor Black (sophomore sprinter), Drew Cosgarea (senior mid-distance), Tom Kremer (junior freestyler), David Nolan (senior backstroker/IMer), Max Williamson (freshman IMer/breaststroker) –
Cosgarea came into his college career looking like he would focus heavily on the IM events, but he won’t be competing in either this weekend. Considering he made the A-final at this summer’s Pan Pac Trials, it’s an understandable shift. It also helps when Stanford should have five other swimmers in the top 10 of the 200 IM this weekend, including Nolan, who will be going for his fourth straight Pac 12 title in the event.
USC: Dylan Carter (sophomore freestyler/backstroker), Santo Condorelli (sophomore sprinter), Morten Klarskov (junior breaststroker), Reed Malone (sophomore freestyler), Cristian Quintero (senior freestyler) –
Even without Dimitri Colupaev, the Trojans have one of the best freestyle groups in the country between Carter, Condorelli, Malone, Quintero, and others. Klarskov is an unsung hero for the Trojans, given the lack of breaststroke depth on the squad.
Utah: Alex Fernandes (senior sprinter), Bence Kiraly (junior freestyler/butterflyer), Quillan Oak (sophomore breaststroker/IMer), Nick Soedel (senior sprint freestyler) –
Fernandes and Kiraly are having career years, both already crushing their previous personal bests in their events. Add in Soedel, and the Utes have eight individual swims seeded in the top six.
200 IM – Three-time defending conference champion David Nolan is the top seed, but a trio of Bears could give him a run for his money, particularly Josh Prenot, who downed Nolan pretty easily in Cal’s win over the Cardinal. Dual meets and championships meets are apples and oranges, but Prenot keeps getting better.
100 Butterfly – The top three seeds (Alex Fernandes, Dylan Carter, and Justin Lynch) are all within two tenths of each other in what should be an excellent race. Fernandes could bring the Utes their first non-1650-free Pac 12 title.
100 Breaststroke – Kevin Cordes has been virtually unstoppable in yards for the last three years, but the gap between him and everyone else seems to be smaller this year, particularly in the 100. Can Chuck Katis score an upset victory here?
100 Backstroke – Murphy has the upper hand, but this should still be a great battle with Nolan. Don’t forget about Jacob Pebley and Ralf Tribuntsov, too.
The Bears should have enough to leapfrog Stanford, but don’t be surprised to see the Cardinal keep things close. Look for a big gap between USC/Arizona, and for Utah to give the Wildcats a scare.
6. Arizona State