2015 Men’s Pac 12 Conference Championships Fan Guide: Cal Shooting For Three-Peat, But Cardinal and Trojans Will Make it Interesting

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.

Stars

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.

SHOWDOWNS

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.

STANDINGS

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.

1. Cal

2. Stanford

3. USC

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Arizona State

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ole 99

I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping it close with Cal, Stanford currently has only three guys that look like they are safely in the NCAA meet (Nolan, Umbach, & Williamson), so maybe save for those three, they better be fully rested for this meet.

Andrew Majeske

Here is a challenge for you swimswam college swimming trivia buffs. Name triple event winners at NCAA championships, who also set NCAA records in those events (not necessarily at the championships, but sometime during the same season). Any division. Andrew Wilson of Emory (D3) has a shot this year if he can drop a little bit more in the 2IM at NCAA’s.

Andrew Majeske

Does anyone remember if Steve Lundquist did it in the breastrokes and 2 IM?

ole 99

James Born of Kenyon won the 50 Free, 100 Free, and 100 Fly and set each event national record at D3 nationals in ’85.

Gary Simon from CMS (before he moved up to D1) won the 200 IM, 100 BR & 200 BR in ’97. I know he set the record in the former two events (200 IM still stands) at that meet. I believe he owned the 200 BR record as well.

YearsAgo

I’ll dust off my old favorite Tracy Caulkins. In her junior year at Florida (1984 NCAAs) she won 4 individual events (when swimmers could compete in 4) and won them all in NCAA record time: 200 fly (1:55.55); 200 IM (1:57.06 – also AR); 400 IM (4:08.37), and 100 BR (1;01.37). I’m sure there’s plenty more, but thought I’d start with the best and see who else comes up with others.

trivia buff

Ryan Lochte 2006 (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 back) – all done at the championships

Jeff

Lochte also broke the 100 back record leading off for the 400 medley relay (44.60). I remember that 2006 championship meet as being incredibly fast. Vanderkaay’s 500 free and Burnett’s 200 free records were set at that meet as well.

trivia buff

It was! And then I remember thinking 2007 would be a let down but more people stepped up (ie Grevers 1:38 after not swimming it previously)

You know what’s scary? Compare those results to last years NCAAs. Not only are a lot of the event champions consistently faster, but 8th and 16th are in completely different ballparks now. Just 8 years later!

triviaguy

I can think of a few triple event winners from D1:
– Ryan Lochte 2006 (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 Back)
– Tom Dolan in 1995 and 1996 (500, 1650, 400 IM)
– Ryk Neethling in 1998 and 1999 (200 free, 500, 1650)

Lochte set NCAA records in all three events in 2006, as well as American records in 200IM and 200 back

Tom Dolan set NCAA and American records in all three events in 1995

trivia buff

Ryk’s 500 was not an NCAA record, it stood with Tom Dolans 4:08.75 from 1995 until Peter Vanderkaay broke it

Sparkle

Natalie Coughlin immediately comes to mind. She went 11/12 and had records in the 100/200 back and 100 fly, and maybe 200 fly (from winter nationals one year) and 100 free but I can’t look right now.

In the last couple of years in D3, Kendra Stern from Amherst and Caroline Wilson from Williams also fit the bill

Sparkle

To add on, Lochte did it in 2006 with the 200/400 IM and 200 back. Shields came close but I don’t think he ever went 3-for-3 at NCAA’s

JP

Trying to think of DII guys just because that’s what I know best…

I’m sure Ben Michaelson did it in the 50 free/100 fly/200 fly/100 free at some point (in DII you can swim 4 individual events). That spoiled it for all the sprint/fly guys until Josa came along and won and broke the 200 IM/100 fly/200 back records last year.

Andrey Seryy was close, but he barely missed the 200 free and got the 50 free record leading off the relay in 2011, and missed his 50 free in 2012 though won all those events…

Piotr Jachowicz crushed both IM records in 2013, but no cigar on the breaststrokes, the Karvonen train was too strong.

JP

Also add to Josa’s haul a record in the 200 free leading off the relay. Queens won two of the three relays he swam in that year and came in second in the other two. He also had the second fastest 100 free leadoff or split in the entire meet (behind a 400 medley relay anchor) leading off the 400 free relay, less than 2 tenths off another national record. Definitely either the best or second-best (behind Michelson, fun fact Michelson’s 100 fly the year he broke the record was I believe the third fastest college time that year) national performance in DII men’s history.

And there’s my trivia info dump for the day.

zfibster

I think Matt Biondi won and broke the record in the 50, 100, and 200 in one season.

About Morgan Priestley

Morgan Priestley

A recent graduate of Stanford University and Birmingham, Michigan native, Morgan Priestley started writing for SwimSwam in February 2013 on a whim, and is loving that his tendency to follow and over-analyze swim results can finally be put to good use. Morgan swam competitively for 15+ years, primarily excelling in the …

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