Arena Invite Welcomes the Best of the West to Belmont

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 0

November 17th, 2010 College

The NCAA major-invite season kicks off this weekend with the Arena Invitational, hosted by UC-San Diego at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, is going to be a big-time field loaded with many of the western United States’ top college teams. Those who will be participating are:

Air Force Academy
Arizona State
Cal State Bakersfield
#3 Stanford
UC Santa Barbara
D-II #7 UC San Diego
#18 UNLV

Arizona State
#5 Cal

Colorado State
Cal State Bakersfield
Fresno State
Oregon State
# 23 San Diego State
San Jose State
#1 Stanford
UC Davis
#24 UCLA
UC Santa Barbara

D-II #3 UC San Diego
Univ. of San Diego

(Teams who received votes in the last CSCAA poll are in bold.)

On the women’s side, this meet might host the most exciting mile freestyle you’ll see this side of NCAA’s. This includes 4 of the nation’s top distance swimmers: Kelly Marquerie of San Diego State, Kelsey Ditto of Stanford, Shelley Harper of Cal, and Jessica Helm of UNLV. Marquerie, a freshman from the swimming Mecca of the Gold Coast, Australia, leads the crew with time of 9:57.83. In the mile at this meet, all four of those swimmers have the potential to go NCAA qualifying times in the 16:20 range.

And of course, any time the two powerhouse women’s programs of Stanford and Cal are in the pool at the same time, fireworks are bound to fly. Of the many exciting races that will surely take place between these huge Pac-10 rivals, I am most looking forward to the 200 IM. That race will feature three of the youngest, and best, 200 IM’ers in the country. Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz, who was the USA-Swimming Nationals runner-up in the 200 IM this summer, will showdown against Stanford’s freshman stars Felicia Lee (2:02.22) and Madeline Dirado (2:03.05).

Also keep an eye out for San Diego State, which is one of the nation’s fastest rising athletics programs overall, and has some great swimmers that you’ve maybe never heard of. In addition to the aforementioned Marquerie, the Aztecs have a slew of young studs that will be the foundation of a very good program over the next few years. Leona Jennings, a sophomore, ranks 14th nationally in the 100 back at 54.86 and will challenge Cal’s freshman Cindy Tran in that race. Another sophomore, Katelyn Weddle, is 12th in the nation in the 100 breast at 1:02.06 and has the strong potential win that event.

On the men’s side, Stanford needs to look a whole lot better than they did against Cal, or risk being upset by a much lower ranked UNLV squad. UNLV, on the flipside, has a serious chance at pulling their second major upset of the season (they already beat Arizona) if they can even come close to their season’s best times. UNLV has the chance to win all 4 relays: especially the medleys, where they sit first and second overall in the nation in the two distances.

The best matchups in this meet will be in the sprint freestyles. Stanford’s Aaron Wayne, who has a season best of 20.44 in the 50 and 45.06 in the 100, will face off against Steven Nelms of UNLV (20.36 in the 50), Kyle Vivra of UNLV (45.41 in the 100) and the UC-Santa Barbara combination of Christopher Peterson (20.46) and Kevin Feruson (44.95).

As backwards as it may seem, UCSB and UNLV thus far have shown much better depth than Stanford in their ability to perform in sprint relays. The two acronymic squads have 200 free relay best times of 1:21.77 (UCSB-5th in the country) and 1:21.85 (UNLV-6th in the country) and will battle all the way to the wall. Less than a second separates the two squads in the 400 free relay as well.

It should be a great three days of racing at a great venue in Belmont, beginning on Thursday. Live results for the Arena Invitational are available at

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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