2021 Men’s Pac-12 Championships: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap

2021 MEN’S PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS

While they won’t win every swimming event, the Cal Bears are well on their way to a fourth straight men’s Pac-12 title as we enter the final day of competition in Houston, holding an 89-point lead on Stanford.

Winners of 11 of 12 events in the pool thus far, Cal has a great shot to claim all of Wednesday’s events, with Daniel CarrRyan Hoffer and Reece Whitley looking to defend their 2020 titles in the 200 back, 100 free and 200 breast.

Carr will be challenged by teammates Destin Lasco, last night’s 100 back winner, Bryce Mefford, the 2019 champion, and Hugo Gonzalez, who placed third last year but is riding high after sweeping the medley events on Monday and Tuesday.

Gonzalez was also entered in the 200 breast on Day 4 coming into the meet, but has opted for the backstroke event. The Spaniard did swim a 1:53.53 in the 200 breast as a time trial on Sunday.

Hoffer will go head-to-head with Cal’s freshman stud Bjorn Seeliger, and Whitley’s greatest challenge will come from Stanford’s Daniel Roy.

Three-time 200 fly champion Zheng Quah has graduated, which leaves last year’s runner-up, Trenton Julian, as the favorite to take down that event for the Golden Bears. Stanford freshmen Preston Forst and Ethan Hu, along with senior Alex Liang, project to be tough outs in the event. Arizona’s Brooks Fail, third in 2020, is also coming off his second-fastest 500 free ever on Monday, so he’ll be in the hunt as well.

Later in the day, senior Zach Yeadon will be favored to win the 1650 for Cal, as the transfer from Notre Dame won the ACC title last season in 14:27.93, a time that ranked him second in the NCAA in 2019-20.

TEAM SCORES (THRU DAY 3 + DIVING)

  1. Cal, 640
  2. Stanford, 551
  3. Arizona, 466
  4. Utah, 347
  5. USC, 304

200 Back Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 1:35.73, Ryan Murphy (Cal), 2016
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 1:37.87, Daniel Carr (Cal), 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:39.16
  • 2020 Champion: Daniel Carr (Cal), 1:37.87
  1. Destin Lasco (Cal), 1:39.03
  2. Hugo Gonzalez (Cal), 1:39.73
  3. Bryce Mefford (Cal), 1:39.85
  4. Daniel Carr (Cal), 1:40.11
  5. Colby Mefford (Cal), 1:40.87
  6. Johannes Calloni (Stanford), 1:41.34
  7. Sebastian Somerset (Cal), 1:41.38
  8. Shane Blinkman (Stanford), 1:41.76

Freshman Destin Lasco leads a quintet of Cal swimmers that claimed the top-five spots in the 200 back prelims, putting up a time of 1:39.03 that surpasses his personal best of 1:39.60 set at the Stanford Invite in November.

That swim, done just over three months ago, already had him ranked second in the country this season, trailing only Shaine Casas of Texas A&M (1:36.54).

Lasco was joined under the 1:40-barrier by teammates Hugo Gonzalez (1:39.73) and Bryce Mefford (1:39.85), who take over third and fourth in the national rankings. Mefford had previously been 1:40.45 this season, while it’s the first 200 back of the campaign for Gonzalez.

Third and fourth place last season, Gonzalez and Mefford were both about a second faster than they were in the 2020 prelims.

Defending champion Daniel Carr qualifies fourth overall in 1:40.11, dominating Heat 2. Like his teammates, Carr gets under his season-best of 1:40.28, but falls two spots in the NCAA rankings due to Gonzalez and Mefford’s swims. The senior clocked 1:39.65 in the heats last year before winning the final in 1:37.87.

Bear sophomore Colby Mefford, who set a best time of 1:41.79 in last year’s prelims before placing sixth in the final, advances in fifth in 1:40.87, taking almost a full second off his best time. Another second-year, Sebastian Somerset, gives Cal six swimmers in the ‘A’ final, dropping seven-tenths from his PB in 1:41.38.

Stanford’s Johannes Calloni (1:41.34) and Shane Blinkman (1:41.76) also established lifetime bests to make the ‘A’ final in sixth and eighth, respectively.

100 Free Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 40.76, Vladimir Morozov (USC), 2013
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 41.38, Vladimir Morozov (USC), 2013
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 41.71
  • 2020 Champion: Ryan Hoffer (Cal), 41.45
  1. Ryan Hoffer (Cal), 41.95
  2. Marin Ercegovic (Arizona), 42.55
  3. Luke Maurer (Stanford), 42.71
  4. Nikola Miljenic (USC), 42.74
  5. Bjorn Seeliger (Cal), 43.02
  6. Noah Reid (Arizona) / Jonny Affeld (Stanford), 43.09
  7. Mason Gonzalez (Stanford), 43.12

Defending champion Ryan Hoffer easily won the final heat of the 100 freestyle to pace the prelims in a time of 41.95, making him the seventh man sub-42 this season.

The Cal senior had previously been 42.12 in late January, ranking him eighth in the nation, and jumps up one spot to seventh with this performance. He was the fastest in the field on both the opening (20.15) and closing 50s (21.80).

Arizona junior Marin Ercegovic, who finished third last season, touched first in a tight Heat 4, clocking 42.55 to lead Stanford’s Luke Maurer (42.71) and Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger (43.02). It’s a season-best for Ercegovic, tying him for 17th in the country, while Maurer and Seeliger both slip under their personal best times.

Seeliger split 41.21 anchoring the 400 medley relay on opening night, so he should have at least a full second drop in the final if he’s at his best.

USC’s Nikola Miljenic followed up his runner-up 100 fly swim from last night by winning Heat 3 here in 42.74, qualifying fourth for the final after finishing ninth from the ‘B’ final last season. Stanford junior Mason Gonzalez had his fastest swim in three years to qualify eighth for the final, missing his PB by less than a tenth in 43.12.

After doing so twice in the 200 free yesterday, Cal’s Nate Biondi once again went for a 50 free official split in this race, this time going 19.81.

200 Breast Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 1:48.53, Reece Whitley (Cal), 2020
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 1:49.80, Andrew Seliskar (Cal), 2019
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:52.61
  • 2020 Champion: Reece Whitley (Cal), 1:49.85
  1. Reece Whitley (Cal), 1:50.87
  2. Daniel Roy (Stanford), 1:52.11
  3. David Schlicht (Arizona), 1:54.25
  4. Forrest Frazier (Cal), 1:54.63
  5. Jacques Laeuffer (Cal), 1:54.95
  6. Jonathan Cook (Stanford), 1:55.07
  7. Sam Iida (Arizona), 1:55.09
  8. Ethan Dang (Stanford), 1:56.77

Cal junior Reece Whitley cruised to the top seed in the 200 breaststroke, winning Heat 4 by over four seconds in 1:50.87.

The defending champion was significantly faster than he was in last year’s prelims (1:52.52), and his time is faster than what anyone else has gone this season. The 21-year-old Whitley remains the only swimmer to have broken 1:51 this season, having gone a best of 1:48.53 in November.

Stanford sophomore Daniel Roy, the runner-up to Whitley last season, was a clear second this morning in 1:52.11, under half a second slower than his PB and Cardinal school record of 1:51.64 set at the Stanford Invite in November. That time ranks him third in the country, with Louisville’s Evgenii Somov (1:51.26) sitting in second.

Arizona’s David Schlicht ran down Cal freshman Forrest Frazier to win the first heat in 1:54.25, qualifying third for the final. Schlicht, an Australian native who took a redshirt year last season, owns a best of 1:52.33 from the 2019 NCAAs.

Frazier put up a time of 1:54.63 for fourth, lowering his best time of 1:55.33 set in December of 2018.

Cal sophomore Jacques Laeuffer, who swam a best time of 1:54.87 on Sunday in a time trial, breaks 1:55 once again in 1:54.95 for fifth, securing a top-eight finish after placing 10th last season.

Andrew Britton, who set a Utah school record in the 100 breast last night in 52.77, went for a 100 split on the front-end of this race, clocking in at 53.43.

200 Fly Prelims

  • Pac-12 Record: 1:38.83, Zheng Quah (Cal), 2017
  • Pac-12 Championship Record: 1:39.15, Zheng Quah (Cal), 2020
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 1:40.76
  • 2020 Champion: Zheng Quah (Cal), 1:39.15
  1. Trenton Julian (Cal), 1:41.16
  2. Alexei Sancov (USC), 1:41.94
  3. Brooks Fail (Arizona), 1:42.40
  4. Dare Rose (Cal), 1:43.26
  5. Alex Liang (Stanford), 1:43.28
  6. Preston Forst (Stanford), 1:43.37
  7. Brooks Taner (Arizona), 1:43.55
  8. Jarod Hatch (Cal), 1:43.66

Cal senior Trenton Julian led freshman teammate Dare Rose through the final heat of the 200 fly, as the two qualified first and fourth for tonight’s final in times of 1:41.16 and 1:43.26, respectively.

Julian, the runner-up last season behind the now-graduated Zheng Quah, broke 1:40 for the first time earlier this season in a dual meet with Stanford (1:39.93), which ranks him fifth in the NCAA.

Rose qualifies for his first Pac-12 championship final with his swim, which was a new personal best by .08.

USC junior Alexei Sancov, who ended Cal’s event-winning streak last night in the 200 free, won the penultimate heat for the second seed in 1:41.94, marking his first swim under 1:42. Sancov set his previous best of 1:42.20 last season at the 2019 Art Adamson Invitational, and at the 2020 Pac-12s, he missed the ‘A’ final with the 12th-fastest prelim time (ultimately taking ninth overall).

Third last year, Arizona senior Brooks Fail had his fastest performance ever outside of the 2019 Minnesota Invite (where he had swims of 1:42.03 and 1:42.13), clocking 1:42.40 to qualify third overall.

Cal senior Jarod Hatch busted through the 1:44 barrier for the first time to qualify eighth in 1:43.66, downing his 1:44.22 from the 2020 Pac-12s. Hatch has slowly made his way up the ladder in this event throughout his career, placing 18th as a freshman in 2018, 17th in 2019, and then taking 11th last season before making his first ‘A’ final in the event today.

USC’s Harry Homans was on pace to make his first ‘A’ final of the meet, third-fastest in the field through 150, but faded coming home and ended up ninth in 1:43.90. Homans owns a best of 1:42.02 from last season’s SECs when he was at Georgia.

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shrek kachowski
1 month ago

Daniel Roy’s SwimSwam profile pic always cracks me up

SoCal Swammer
1 month ago

Cal is the best place in the nation for elite backstrokes to be right now. Don’t @ me.

BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

I think that’s a bingo in the 200 back.

Taa
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Somerset let the group down

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

I know you’re joking but that’s not nice.

Taa
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

There is always finals!!! I wonder how many of these guys have a little something left in the tank.

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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