2021 Men’s Pac-12 Championships: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap

2021 MEN’S  PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS

The first full day of racing at the 2021 Men’s Pac-12s is set to get underway from Houston, with heats of the 500 free, 200 IM and 50 free on the schedule for this morning.

Cal had a strong start to the meet on opening night, winning both relays — included lowering a 2009 meet record in the 400 medley. However, with the diving portion of this meet having already been contested, the Bears still sit in last place, though that shouldn’t last for long.

Stanford senior Grant Shoults enters the day with a chance to win a fourth title in the 500 free, having also won in 2017, 2018 and 2020 (having taken a redshirt in his junior year). Dating back to the first Pac-12 Championship meet in 1961, several swimmers have won this event three times, but no one has ever had four.

Shoults will have his work cut out for him with top seed Trenton Julian appearing to be on top form in last night’s 800 free relay, while Zach YeadonBrooks Fail and freshman teammate Preston Forst will also likely be in the mix.

The 200 IM looks to be pretty wide open. Cal’s Daniel Carr is the defending champion, while Arizona sophomore David Schlicht holds the top seed at 1:42.97.

Cal’s Ryan Hoffer will look to defend his 2020 title in the 50 free, with freshman teammate Bjorn Seeliger figuring to be a factor after his 41.21 100 free relay leg on Night 1.

TEAM SCORES (THRU DAY 1 + DIVING)

  1. Utah, 189
  2. Stanford, 173
  3. Arizona, 152
  4. USC, 124
  5. Cal, 102

500 Free Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 4:08.92, Jean Basson (ARIZ), 2009
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 4:10.67, Grant Shoults (STAN), 2017
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:11.82
  • 2020 Champion: Grant Shoults (STAN), 4:12.45
  1. Brooks Fail (Arizona), 4:13.81
  2. Trenton Julian (Cal), 4:14.54
  3. Zach Yeadon (Cal), 4:14.59
  4. Grant Shoults (Stanford), 4:15.48
  5. Sean Grieshop (Cal), 4:15.79
  6. Preston Forst (Stanford), 4:16.90
  7. Colby Mefford (Cal), 4:18.62
  8. True Sweetser (Stanford), 4:19.43

Arizona senior Brooks Fail won the first circle-seeded heat in 4:13.81, ultimately earning him the top seed for tonight’s final. Fail went well under his season-best of 4:15.35 from December, moving into 12th in the national rankings.

Last season’s third place finisher also negative-split the race, out in 2:07.46 at the 250 before closing in 2:06.35. Out of the eight finalists, his front-half was only sixth-fastest. He’ll also be the only non-Cal or Stanford swimmer in the championship heat.

Stanford freshman Preston Forst touched second in the heat in 4:16.90 for sixth overall, establishing a new PB after going 4:17.32 at November’s Stanford Invite.

A trio of seniors led Heat 3, with 2020 ACC champion Zach Yeadon — who transferred to Cal from Notre Dame in the summer — pacing defending champ Grant Shoults and Cal’s Sean Grieshop in 4:14.59. Yeadon holds a best time of 4:10.39 from the 2020 ACC Championships, and had been as fast as 4:14.90 this season back in November. He qualified third overall, with Shoults fourth and Grieshop fifth.

In the final heat it was Cal’s Trenton Julian, last season’s runner-up, winning easily in 4:14.54 to claim Lane 5 tonight. The 22-year-old senior was slightly faster in 4:14.08 on Feb. 19 in the Bears’ dual with Stanford, so he should have more in the tank for the final.

200 IM Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 1:38.14, Andrew Seliskar (CAL), 2019
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 1:40.07, David Nolan (STAN), 2015
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:41.34
  • 2020 Champion: Daniel Carr (CAL), 1:41.79
  1. Hugo Gonzalez (Cal), 1:41.82
  2. Alex Liang (Stanford), 1:43.24
  3. Jonny Affeld (Stanford), 1:43.42
  4. Shane Blinkman (Stanford), 1:43.53
  5. David Schlicht (Arizona), 1:43.68
  6. Sam Iida (Arizona), 1:43.78
  7. Ogi Maric (Arizona), 1:44.52
  8. Daniel Carr (Cal), 1:44.91

Cal junior Hugo Gonzalez dropped the third-fastest swim of his career (and quickest since 2018) to lead the 200 IM heats in 1:41.82, a time just .03 shy of the winning time last year.

Gonzalez’s swim ranks him eighth in the NCAA this season, and he only needs to take another half-second off to jump into second. The former SEC champion with Auburn has only competed once for the Bears this season (against USC on Jan. 30), which included him swimming the 200 IM in 1:46.14.

Last season, Gonzalez was disqualified in the 200 IM prelims at Pac-12s for a false start, going on to win the conference title in the 400 IM later in the meet.

Placing second to Gonzalez in Heat 4 was Stanford senior Alex Liang, who broke 1:44 for the first time in 1:43.24, qualifying second for the final.

In Heat 5, Cardinal freshman Jonny Affeld (1:43.42) and sophomore Shane Blinkman (1:43.53) both dropped sizeable bests to qualify third and fourth overall.

Top seed David Schlicht of Arizona won the final heat for fifth overall in 1:43.68, just ahead of senior teammate Sam Iida (1:43.78), while defending champ Daniel Carr of Cal squeaks into the ‘A’ final in eighth.

Third and seventh last year, Cal’s Bryce Mefford (1:45.01) and Reece Whitley (1:45.17) placed ninth and 10th overall and will contest the consolation heat tonight.

50 Free Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 18.58, Ryan Hoffer (CAL), 2019
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 18.80, Brad Tandy (ARIZ), 2014
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 18.96
  • 2020 Champion: Ryan Hoffer (CAL), 18.87
  1. Bjorn Seeliger (Cal), 18.88
  2. Ryan Hoffer (Cal), 19.00
  3. Marin Ercegovic (Arizona), 19.45
  4. Nikola Miljenic (USC), 19.47
  5. Cooper DeRyk (Utah), 19.64
  6. Mason Gonzalez (Stanford), 19.74
  7. Luke Maurer (Stanford), 19.79
  8. Nate Biondi (Cal), 19.87

Following up on his 41.2 relay split last night, Cal freshman Bjorn Seeliger exploded this morning in the 50 free heats, taking .35 off his best time in 18.88 to tie for the second-fastest time in the NCAA this season. The 21-year-old Swedish native had swam his previous best time of 19.23 at Cal’s dual with Stanford in November.

Four of the five-fastest men in the NCAA this season are first-year swimmers. Florida’s Adam Chaney leads the pack at 18.76, followed by UVA freshman Matt Brownstead (and now Seeliger) at 18.88, and then Alabama first-year Matt King is now fifth at 18.96.

Defending Pac-12 champion Ryan Hoffer, the only upperclassman to have broken 19 seconds this season, qualifies second for the final in 19.00. Hoffer swam a time of 18.97 in November.

Fourth and fifth last year, Arizona’s Marin Ercegovic and USC’s Nikola Miljenic qualified third and fourth in 19.45 and 19.47, respectively. Both were within range of their personal best times (Ercegovic-19.36, Miljenic-19.35).

Qualifying fifth was Utah junior Cooper DeRyk, slipping under his 2019 best time by .02 in 19.64. DeRyk is now less than three-tenths off the Utes’ school record of 19.36 set by Nick Soedel in 2014. DeRyk placed 10th as a sophomore.

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Nugget
10 months ago

Did Shane Blinkman take a gap year? As I recall, he was class of 2023 but is also listed as a freshman.

SwimminIsGood
Reply to  Nugget
10 months ago

Good observation, “Nugget”…besides all the first-year true freshman class, it seems as though all Stanford swimmers are listed in the psych sheets and results as one year behind what their actual year is. Looks like that’s consistent across the board for the Cardinal. Not sure why.

Also, anyone know Levant’s status? Would have expected to see him on the 800 free relay. He’s had some bad luck his first two years, so was hoping he’d have a good junior year.

NC Fan
Reply to  SwimminIsGood
10 months ago

Was wondering the same on Levant. Hope he’s doing well. It doesn’t look like he’s competed at all this season.

D’Mensha Joe
10 months ago

So cool to see the sons of previous NCAA sprint champions from the 1980s and early 1990s (Biondi and Maurer) make the final in the 50!

Meeeeee
Reply to  D’Mensha Joe
10 months ago

And you’ll see Borges in the B1G

Former Big10
10 months ago

Good to see U of Arizona be competitive again. Was a rough few years.

Cal will keep running away with the conference until another team can keep up with their sprint crew.

Marklewis
Reply to  Former Big10
10 months ago

Brooks Fail has a good chance to win the 500 tonight.

It will be a very competitive race so look for the last 200 to be a battle of strategies. Brooks likes to push the back half.

Asufan
Reply to  Former Big10
10 months ago

U of A was 2nd at conf last year right?

Stewie
Reply to  Former Big10
10 months ago

They’re marginally competitive in the PAC 10, which is a shell of what it once was. Arizona’s a long way from being relevant at the national level.

Taa
Reply to  Stewie
10 months ago

At least they are more relevant than ASU this year. The medley relay is faster than Georgia, A&M, Tennessee, NC state and Virginia. So they are not top 5 relevant but at least top 15 relevant. At some point there isnt enough fast swimmers to go around even though they can get coached up to national relevancy such as Jeff Wright or Brooks Fail have shown.

Stewie
Reply to  Taa
10 months ago

“At least they are more relevant than ASU this year”.

This is true.

Not sure about top 15 relevant, though. We will see in a few weeks.

Zaq
10 months ago

Neg split the back 250. Gutsy

Taa
Reply to  Zaq
10 months ago

408 or 09 incoming

PFA
10 months ago

Wow another freshman under 19 and Luke just made it into the A final with I believe his first sub 20 outing.

thezwimmer
Reply to  PFA
10 months ago

Although this “freshman” is the same age as many juniors and seniors

JeahBrah
Reply to  thezwimmer
10 months ago

Yeah he’s a 21 year old freshman??

Samuli Hirsi
Reply to  JeahBrah
10 months ago

but does that matter these days, when looking conf. champs from past weeks, freshmen going pretty fast etc…. people are growing up huge these days, might not matter that much anymore if fr or sr

SWIMGUY12345
Reply to  PFA
10 months ago

Yeah pretty big difference between 18 or recently turned 19 year olds going sub 19 vs. a 21 year old.

Still immensely talented though and a hell of a swim.

Time Keeper
10 months ago

Can’t see the B final points but Stanford is loading up on A final points and they got points from diving. Cal definitely faster but Stanford looks pretty deep. Not depth that will carry over to NCAAS, but could make this meet interesting at least

Reid
Reply to  Time Keeper
10 months ago

I’d say Cal looks fairly listless overall, and not just with the guys already qualified for NCAAs. Big swim for Seeliger, but few of their second tier guys are showing any sign of moving into qualifying territory. Maybe C. Mefford and Jhong. Could definitely see Stanford winning given their lead diving.

Taa
Reply to  Time Keeper
10 months ago

Its obvious that Stanford was way under ranked all season long but they don’t have the numbers yet to compete with Cal. We will see the final up/downs swim numbers and Cal will still be way ahead. Stanford probably outswam them but its only prelims and probably more rested than Cal’s big guns. Bjorn’s 50 was a big boy swim

Swimfan
Reply to  Taa
10 months ago

Well. Given that he’s a 21 year old man…

Taa
Reply to  Swimfan
10 months ago

he could be a 25 year old senior and the first guy in NCAA history to break 19 five years in a row.

Clownley Honks
Reply to  Swimfan
10 months ago

it’s hard for anybody to break 19 man

Swimfan
Reply to  Clownley Honks
10 months ago

Eh. Ok but let’s not go on and on about how this “freshman” had a “big boy swim.” He IS in fact, a man.That’s something you say when a teen (or a true Freshman) swims a time that’s rare for their age. Just seemed like an odd thing to say. Fast yes. But don’t act like he’s straight outta highschool.

Braden Keith(@braden)
Admin
Reply to  Swimfan
10 months ago

….he is straight out of high school. Like he explained, in Sweden, high school runs a year longer than the U.S.

Dudeman
Reply to  Swimfan
10 months ago

Alright fine, that man had a big swim, everyone happy now? We done trying to minimize a swim that’s fast no matter how old the athlete is?

CosPAC
10 months ago

Does anyone know what happened to J Louser and C David?

CosPAC
Reply to  CosPAC
10 months ago

Also, D Carr not swimming like himself, even from yesterdays relay. Is he ok?

JeahBrah
Reply to  CosPAC
10 months ago

No reason for Carr to be tapered for conference championships

Horninco
Reply to  JeahBrah
10 months ago

“If he were in a REAL conference he would have to taper for CC’s”

or something like that

-SEC fan

Taa
Reply to  Horninco
10 months ago

Thats not how they do it on the west coast.

Foreign Embassy
Reply to  CosPAC
10 months ago

I noticed they were missing too. Calvin David is no longer listed on their active roster. Louser is but I don’t believe he has logged a swim this year. Also Will Pelton is not at this meet.

Also noticed Jack Levant is not here either…

Rafam
10 months ago

How many advance to finals….I heard there was a change in number this year?

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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