2021 Pac-12 Men’s Championships Fan Guide: It’s a Cal World

2021 PAC-12 MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Cal men are going to go up against Texas at the NCAA Championships for the national title, but first, they’ll take on the rest of the Pac-12 at the conference championships. Cal won easily last year, though Stanford is arguably a good deal stronger this time around (but not yet deep enough to pose a serious title threat).

USC and Arizona will tangle for third, as Arizona State is redshirting this season due to the pandemic.

Diving already concluded, with Arizona and Stanford jumping out to the lead with over 100 points each.

TEAM SCORES (THROUGH DIVING)

  1. Utah – 133
  2. Stanford – 107
  3. Arizona – 86
  4. USC – 64
  5. Cal – 22

SCHEDULE

SUNDAY

  • 800 Freestyle Relay
  • 400 Medley Relay

MONDAY

  • 500 Freestyle
  • 200 Individual Medley
  • 50 Freestyle
  • 200 Freestyle Relay

TUESDAY

  • 400 Individual Medley
  • 100 Butterfly
  • 200 Freestyle
  • 100 Breaststroke
  • 100 Backstroke
  • 200 Medley Relay

WEDNESDAY

  • 1650 Freestyle
  • 200 Backstroke
  • 100 Freestyle
  • 200 Breaststroke
  • 200 Butterfly
  • 400 Freestyle Relay

STARS

NOTE: Arizona State redshirted their entire roster for this season, so they will not be racing at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships

ARIZONA – Brooks Fail (senior freestyler), David Schlicht (redshirt sophomore IM/breaststroker) Marin Ercegovic (junior sprinter), Noah Reid (senior butterflier), Sam Iida (senior breast/IMer), Eric Correa (junior diver), Bjorn Markentin (sophomore diver) – The Wildcats have a strong IM group led by David Schlicht, the 2019 Pac-12 runner-up in both IMs and a 2019 NCAA A-finalist in the 400 IM. Brooks Fail is a top distance swimmer, while the Wildcats have a handful of A-final prospects to prop them up. Markentin, meanwhile, is the reigning platform champion.

CAL – Hugo Gonzalez (redshirt junior back/IMer), Bjorn Seeliger (freshman sprinter), Ryan Hoffer (senior sprinter), Reece Whitley (junior breaststroker), Sean Grieshop (senior IMer), Trenton Julian (senior free/fly/IMer), Bryce Mefford (senior free/backstroker), Zach Yeadon (senior freestyler), Daniel Carr (senior backstroker), Destin Lasco (freshman backstroker)- Cal is mighty this year, helped by stud freshman Bjorn Seeliger replacing outgoing sprinter Pawel Sendyk. The Bears hold the top seed in every individual event except the 200 IM and 100 fly, and they’re alarmingly deep in the 200 back (top four seeds) and the 100 back and 50 free (top three seeds, each).

STANFORD – Grant Shoults (senior freestyler), Daniel Roy (junior IM/breaststroker), Luke Maurer (freshman freestyler), Alex Liang (senior IM/butterflier), Conor Casey (junior diver), Jonathan Affeld (freshman freestyler/butterflier), Ethan Hu (freshman butterflier), Ethan Dang (freshman breaststroker), Noah Vigran (junior diver) – Senior leader Grant Shoults will take the Stanford men into battle this fall, the Cardinal toting a dangerous, and deep, freshman class. Ethan Hu is one of just two non-Cal swimmers to hold a top seed going into this meet, owning the top spot in the 100 fly, while Jonathan AffeldLuke Maurer and Ethan Dang are each seeded top-four in at least one event.

USC – Nikola Miljenic (senior sprinter), Alexei Sancov (junior freestyler), Billy Cruz (junior sprinter), Harry Homans (sophomore multi), George Korovin (sophomore diver) – USC is led by senior sprinter Nikola Miljenic and junior Alexei Sancov. Meanwhile, the versatile Harry Homans and junior college standout Billy Cruz are crucial transfer pickups for the Trojans. George Korovin was the Pac-12 runner-up in the platform last year.

UTAH – Tony Chen (junior diver), Felix Chiun (senior sprinter), Luke McDivitt (sophomore diver), Jaek Horner (sophomore breaststroker), Cooper Deryk (junior sprinter) – This is a young team, for the most part, led by senior sprinter Felix Chiun. Sophomore Jaek Horner is seeded third in the 100 breast, while Utah’s diving group is the biggest in the conference, with four divers slated to score. Junior Tony Chen leads the Ute diving group after he was the biggest contributor for the entire roster last year (32 points).

SHOWDOWNS

500 FREE

Grant Shoults has been on an inspiring upswing after getting shoulder surgery in July 2020. Now with two post-op shoulders (his first surgery was on the other arm), Shoults, the Pac-12 champion in 2017, 2018 and 2020, is a top contender. He’s been 4:15.74 this season, and in the 1000 free, he’s gone a lifetime best (8:44).

Cal will have something to say here, though, as 2020 Pac-12 runner-up Trenton Julian and Notre Dame transfer Zach Yeadon are 1-2 in the conference right now. Julian has been 4:14.08, just ahead of Yeadon’s 4:14.90. Julian has been 4:11.30 from the 2019 NCAA Championships and Yeadon has been 4:10.39 from the 2020 ACC Championships, which he won.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s Brooks Fail could crash the Bay Area party. Fail was third in this race in 2020, but his mid-season time of 4:11.79 wound up being the best Pac-12 performance of the season. This year, he’s been 4:15.35 to rank third in the conference, behind the two Cal boys and ahead of Shoults.

Meanwhile, Cal distance specialist Sean Grieshop and standout Stanford freshman Preston Forst lurk.

400 IM

Arizona getting David Schlicht back from a redshirt year is huge. At the 2019 Pac-12 Championships, Schlicht was runner-up in this event, nearly beating Cal’s Michael Thomas at the wall.

This season, Schlicht is the fastest 400 IMer in the conference at 3:40.93, already within a second of his 2019 Pac-12 time. He’s almost two seconds ahead of any other swimmer in the conference, with Grieshop (3:42.69) and Julian (3:43.44) two of the biggest threats.

Cal sophomore Jason Louser, meanwhile, was 3:41 in the 400 IM at 2020 Pac-12s as a freshman, and Cal’s swiss army knife Hugo Gonzalez is actually the favorite. Gonzalez hasn’t raced this event this season, but he won the 2020 conference title with a big-time 3:36.60.

200 BACK

This race is one of Cal’s strongest, with seniors Daniel Carr and Bryce Mefford joined this season by freshman star Destin Lasco. The rookie Lasco dropped a 1:39.60 already this season, while Carr and Mefford have been 1:40-lows.

Carr is the defending champion, having gone 1:37.87 at this meet last year, a lifetime best. Mefford was fourth last year at 1:41.09, while he totes a 1:38.48 lifetime best from 2018 NCAAs.

Gonzalez will be a fourth Bear involved in the title hunt, as he was third at 2020 Pac-12s with a 1:39.66 and he owns a lifetime best of 1:39.05. Cal is seeded with the top four entries in this event.

For a dark horse candidate, look no further than Arizona’s Ogi Maric or USC’s Harry Homans. They’re both transfers, Maric from UNLV and Homans from UGA, and Maric’s lifetime best 1:41.82 ranks fifth in the conference this season. Homans has been 1:43.68 this year, but was 1:41.88 at the 2020 SEC Championships.

200 BREAST

Reece Whitley of Cal is the favorite here, bringing in a 1:48.53 from one of Cal’s duals with Stanford. That time is also the nation’s quickest time, and it ranks him #2 in history, not far off of Will Licon’s American record of 1:47.91.

Whitley will be challenged by Stanford’s Daniel Roy, whose 1:51.64 has him second in the nation by over a second. Roy’s season best is also a lifetime best, and his first lifetime best since March 2018, before he got to Stanford. During that same meet, Roy threw down a lifetime best in long course, too, dropping a 2:08.89 to increase his odds as an Olympic team contender in the event.

While this is Whitley’s race to lose, Roy seems primed for more drops in yards, and these two could be the top seeds going into NCAAs when the conference meet dust settles.

SELECTIONS

SWIMULATOR PICKS

The Swimulator has Cal on top by about 300 points, and while it might not be that big a blowout, Cal is far too strong for this meet to be very close. Stanford is projected to finish squarely in second, while Arizona and USC could have a battle on their hands.

California 1411.5
Stanford 1117.5
Arizona 988.5
Southern Cali 879.5
Utah 582

SWIMSWAM PICKS

This one is pretty easy to pick; Cal is way too deep, and it’s in the ballpark of reality that they win every individual event (aside from diving).

Stanford looks a lot stronger this year, though, largely due to their incredible freshman class. Like we’ve seen with the Pac-12 Women’s Championships, the real battle will be for third; Arizona is projected to do about 100 points better than USC with the Swimulator, though they only put about 20 points on the Trojans with diving concluded.

With Arizona State out, there will only be five teams competing this year. Last year, the swimmer total left some C-finals almost empty, and we could see several events with sparse numbers.

  1. Cal
  2. Stanford
  3. Arizona
  4. USC
  5. Utah

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BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

I absolutely love the fact that there’s no break between Saturday night’s conclusion of the women’s meet and the first night of men’s relays today. Can we do this every year? Please?

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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