2022 Men’s Pac-12 Fan Guide: Cal, Stanford & ASU Set For Closest Meet In Years

2022 Men’s Pac-12 Championships

The 2022 Pac-12 men’s championships kick off on Wednesday in Federal Way, Washington with the Cal Bears seeking to win their fifth straight conference title. The men’s diving events have already taken place, with all Pac-12 divers competing last weekend in Tucson. The Stanford Cardinal took full advantage of the opportunity on the boards, scoring 131 points to come into the swimming portion of the meet with the lead. Notably, they also hold a massive early lead on the top swimming programs in the conference, with Arizona State scoring 31 points and Cal entering no divers at all.

The meet will start Wednesday evening with the 800 free relay and 200 medley relay on Wednesday and continue through the traditional three and a half day championship format for the remainder of the weekend. Unlike the women’s meet, the Pac-12 men only score the top 16 finishers in each event.

Cal comes in as the favorite, with a deep swimming roster littered with stars, though Dave Durden’s path to a fifth straight Pac-12 title as head coach will not be unchallenged. The Stanford Cardinal have been on the upswing under third-year head coach Dan Schemmel, including a narrow dual meet victory over the Bears just two weeks ago. Arizona State has been lights out all season behind superstar freshman Leon Marchand and elite relays, holding the top time in the conference in 4 of the 5 relays.

EVENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday

  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 free relay

Thursday

  • 500 free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 free
  • 200 free relay

Friday

  • 400 IM
  • 100 fly
  • 200 free
  • 100 breast
  • 100 back
  • 400 medley relay

Saturday

  • 1650 free
  • 200 back
  • 100 free
  • 200 breast
  • 200 fly
  • 400 free relay

Current Team Standings (After diving)

  1. Stanford 131
  2. Utah 129
  3. Arizona 92
  4. USC 81
  5. Arizona State 31
  6. Cal 0

Swimmers to Watch

Arizona: Brooks Fail (Sr- distance), Ryan Foote (Jr- breast), Marcin Ercegovic (Jr- sprints)

Brooks Fail is the star for the Wildcats and comes in as the top seed in the 500 free and mile, along with the third seed in the 400 IM. Fail has already comfortably secured an invite to the NCAA Championships, however, so it remains to be seen how prepared he is for a meet where Arizona figures to not play a major role in the team race. Junior Ryan Foote should challenge for a pair of A finals in both breaststrokes, while his classmate Marcin Ercegovic should challenge for an A final in the 50 and 100 free.

Arizona State: Leon Marchand (Fr- IM), Grant House (Sr- IM/free), Jack Dolan (So- sprints/back), David Schlicht (So- breast/IM) , Cody Bybee (Jr- sprints/fly)

After a year off from competition, the Arizona State Sun Devils announced their return in a huge way at the NC State Invite in November. Leading the way was French freshman Leon Marchand, who holds the Pac-12s top time in both IMs and is second in the 200 fly. Senior Grant House will be the top seed in the 200 free and has top three seeds in both the 100 free and 200 IM. Jack Dolan leads a strong Sun Devil sprint group with the 3rd seed in the 50 free, 5th seed in the 100 free and 4th in the 100 back, and Cody Bybee provides more sprint depth behind him and House. Sophomore David Schlicht provides IM depth behind Marchand, with the second fastest 400 IM in the conference and also should challenge for the A final appearances in both the 200 IM and 200 breast.

Cal: Bjorn Seeliger (So- sprints), Destin Lasco (So- free/back), Reece Whitley (Sr- breast/IM), Trenton Julian (Sr- fly/free), Gabriel Jett (Fr- free/fly), Hugo Gonzalez (Sr- IM/breast/back)

Cal has the deepest swim roster in the conference, with talent across all strokes and distances. Their sprint group is led by Swedish sophomore Bjorn Seeliger, who holds the Pac-12’s top time in the 50 free and second fastest in the 100 free. Destin Lasco, coming off a breakout freshman campaign, returns as the favorite in both backstrokes and joins with senior Hugo Gonzalez to make a lethal IM combo. Senior Trenton Julian comes in with the top time in the 200 fly and should challenge for A final appearances in both the 200 and 500 free, while freshman Gabriel Jett had a major breakout in Minnesota and should A final in the same events as Julian.

Stanford: Andrei Minakov (Fr- fly/sprints), Jonny Affeld (So- fly/IM), Ron Palonsky (Fr-, Leon MacAlister (Jr- back), Daniel Roy (Sr- breast), Grant Shoults (Sr- distance)

After opening up a massive lead over both ASU and Cal after diving, the Cardinal swimmers have to be walking in the door thinking they can win this meet. Freshman sprinter and butterfly Andrei Minakov leads a young Stanford squad and comes in with the top time in both the 100 fly and 100 free, and the second-fastest time in the 50. Jonny Affeld sits just behind him with the second-fastest 100 fly in the conference and also has A final potential in the 200 IM and 200 fly. Freshman Ron Polonsky should challenge for an A final in the 200 IM and backstrokes, while seniors Daniel Roy and Grant Shoults both should A final in the breaststrokes and distance frees, respectively. Junior Leon MacAlister should challenge for an A final spot in both backstroke races.

USC: Nikola Miljenic (Sr- sprints/fly), Alexei Sancov (Sr- free/fly), Trent Pellini (Sr- breast), Harry Homans (Jr- IM/fly/back), Ben Dillard (So- IM/breast)

This is a very experienced Trojan group, led by a trio of senior stars. Miljenic projects to A final in the 50 and 100 free, along with the 100 fly, while Sancov should challenge for an A final in the 500 free, 200 IM and 200 fly. Trent Pellini and Ben Dillard combine to make a formidable breaststroke group, with both expected to challenge for A finals in both breaststrokes. Junior Harry Homans should also challenge for a trio of A finals with the 400 IM, 200 fly and 200 back.

Utah: Ben Waterman (Sr- fly), Andrei Ungur (Sr- back), Cooper Deryk (Sr- sprints)

The Utes are led by a trio of seniors. Ben Waterman should challenge for an A final appearance in the 100 fly, while Andrei Ungur currently holds the 5th fastest 100 back in the conference. Deryk currently holds the 8th fastest time in the conference in the 50 free.

Showdown Races

200 IM: Arizona State freshman Leon Marchand leads the way in the 200 IM with his 1:40.80 from November, but Cal sophomore Destin Lasco is close on his heels with 1:41.53. Lasco was third at last year’s NCAA Championships with a lifetime best of 1:40.01, but wasn’t even Cal’s fastest IMer last season. That title goes to senior Hugo Gonzalez, who finished second at NCAAs in 1:39.99 last year.

100 breast: Cal senior Reece Whitley leads the way in the men’s 100 breast with his 51.22 from the Minnesota invite, but USC’s Trent Pellini sits just .06 back with his 51.28 from the Art Adamson Invite. Both swimmers are already qualified for NCAAs, having swum under the A Standard of 51.59 midseason. Cal junior Liam Bell, who is in his first season in Berkeley after transferring from Alabama, has been 52.07 this season for third in the conference but holds a lifetime best of 51.39 from the 2020 SEC Championships. If Bell can crack a new lifetime best he should be in the conversation for the conference title.

50 free: The top three swimmers in the conference this season have all been within a tenth of one another, setting up a showdown for the win. Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger holds the top time in 19.02, but Stanford freshman superstar Andrei Minakov currently sits second in 19.06. Arizona State’s Jack Dolan was 19.12 in November, creating a possible trio of 18-second swims this weekend.

Swimulator Results

  1. Cal, 689.5
  2. Arizona State, 635.5
  3. Stanford, 564.5
  4. USC, 508.5
  5. Arizona, 351.0
  6. Utah, 217.0

SwimSwam Picks

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

The Cal Bears have dominated the Pac-12 in recent years, but a resurgent Stanford team under third year head coach Dan Schemmel and a very powerful Arizona State team should make this the closest team race in years. Stanford recently topped Cal in their annual dual meet and holds a massive lead after diving, but Cal’s swimming depth feels like a little too much for the Cardinal to overcome this season. If you add Stanford’s diving lead into the Swimulator projections, Stanford would be projected to win by 6 points. Don’t be surprised if this team race comes down to the final races on Saturday night before being decided.

Arizona State was probably the most impressive men’s team of the invite season and has the ability to make plenty of headlines at this meet as well, but there is also a chance that head coach Bob Bowman is looking ahead to NCAAs and a potential team trophy with most of his top swimmers already securing qualifying spots midseason.

In This Story

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mds
4 months ago

As you mentioned in the 100 Breast breakdown that Liam Bell is in his first year at Cal after starting at Alabama, it would have also been appropriate to note that Pellini too is a grad transfer, after completing 4 years at Purdue where, according to the Purdue media guide, he was a 2020-21 NCAA Honorable Mention All-American both in the 100 Breast and as part of the Boilermaker 4×100 Free Relay.

Alex Wilson
4 months ago

Why did you not include Leon Marchand’s picture in the “In this story” section? He was certainly mentioned in the text?

Kyle Sockwell
Reply to  Alex Wilson
4 months ago

Assuming that section isn’t manually pulled and is just some piece of code that grabs noteworthy names. He should be in that section, but likely unintentional.

Nick Carlson
Reply to  Kyle Sockwell
4 months ago

Go Devs!

Kyle Sockwell
Reply to  Nick Carlson
4 months ago

Heeeeeeeehee

Dpr
4 months ago

PAC 10 is always at disadvantage when it comes to NCAA’s. There conference meet is set way to late in the season. They should move it match SEC and give there guys a least 3 weeks to recover before going to NCAA.

Sophie
Reply to  Dpr
4 months ago

On one hand, I want to agree with you, but on the other hand, PAC-12 teams regularly show up at NCAAs after having a good PAC-12 showing – on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Nonetheless, I think more rest between conference and NCs is generally a good thing.

Former Big10
Reply to  Dpr
4 months ago

Their*
Sorry, had to 😒

John Hueth
4 months ago

Psych sheet?

mds
4 months ago

I wonder, in his psychological makeup, if current world events will have an impact on Minakov’s performance.

Virtus
Reply to  mds
4 months ago

Probably if he has people fighting in the military or in Ukrain. I ton of Russians definitely have family in Ukrain

Ghost
4 months ago

ASU men will have swim a lot better than their women to be a factor.

mds
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

After night one, they appear to be doing so.

James Beam
4 months ago

ASU have divers?

Taa
Reply to  James Beam
4 months ago

stanford 131, ASU 31, Cal 0 they should update the article to reflect the diving results that already happened. On paper its a 3 way battle whoever decides to rest a little more probably has a slight edge.

James Beam
Reply to  Taa
4 months ago

thank you for the scores. That’s a big chunk of change for Cal to overcome, especially if they have their eyes on NCAA’s….

Random question, has Pac12’s always been the last Power5 conference to have their champs? Why do they wait so late?

1650 Onetrick
Reply to  James Beam
4 months ago

They have been for a while. As for why, I have no idea

Former Big10
4 months ago

Cal is down an important piece, too.

mds
Reply to  Former Big10
4 months ago

?