While the Arizona women took most of the event victories, 9 out of 16, it was Teri McKeever’s Cal women who used superior depth to take a 157-143 victory over the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday in Tucson.
The meet came down to the 200 free relay, which Cal entered with a two-point lead. That made the race a “winner-takes-all” event, and the Cal Golden Bears, with much more depth in their sprint group, came away with the victory in that event and the meet overall.
Cal’s final relay of Missy Franklin (22.80), Kaylin Bing (22.87), Rachel Bootsma (22.97), and Farida Osman (22.39) combined for a 1:31.03.
Arizona, meanwhile, was competitive early, but ran out of horses on the back-half. Taylor Schick (22.90), Paige Kremer (22.88), Elizabeth Pepper (23.34), and Cameron McHugh (23.46) combined to place 2nd in 1:32.58. McHugh and Pepper are both very good swimmers, but neither of them specialize in the 50 free, which will be the Wildcats’ Achille’s heel this season.
The emergence of Kremer, splitting 22.8 in January, will be a key for that team, however.
Among the 7 wins for Cal included a pair by star Missy Franklin. She didn’t swim in Cal’s 200 medley relay, and so her day began with a 1:46.62 in the 200 free. That gave her a victory in a blockbuster matchup against Arizona’s Bonnie Brandon (1:48.05), with Franklin holding more speed out of the pair.
Showing off their depth, Cal took 3rd (Camille Cheng – 1:49.58), 4th (Caroline Piehl – 1:50.48), and 5th (Rachael Acker – 1:50.55) in the race.
In Franklin’s next race, she took 2nd behind teammate Osman in the 50 free, with the Egyptian winning in 22.89 and Franklin taking 2nd in 22.93. Arizona’s Schick placed 3rd in 22.93.
Coming out of the “dive break,” Franklin won her second individual event in three tries by topping the 100 free in 49.47. She was in nearly a dead-heat with Arizona’s Schick at the 50, but powered home for half-a-second victory to Schick’s 50.09.
The other really exciting individual matchup of the day came in the women’s 200 back, where Brandon once again matched up with a Cal star: this time Liz Pelton. Illness struck Brandon at NCAA’s last season, costing her a shot at lining up against the American Record holder Pelton and the rest of a historically-good NCAA field, but she made a statement by swimming a 1:55.77 to win on Saturday. Pelton placed 2nd in 1:56.07.
For Brandon, that was her fastest time outside of Arizona’s mid-season invite, and was a three-tenths improvement upon her swim against Stanford a day earlier.
Pelton didn’t get the win there, but she did pick up a victory in the 100 back in 55.02, part of a Cal max-points 1-2-3 finish; and later in the 400 IM in 4:19.97, with teammate Celina Li absent from the meet for a violation of team rules.
One spot where Arizona was dominant was the breaststroke races. In the 100 yard distance, Emma Schoettmer took 1st in 1:01.50; newcomer Lauren Stoeckle took 2nd in 1:02.52; and Sara Borendame took 3rd in 1:02.70.
Stoeckle was swimming in just her second meet after transferring mid-season for Missouri. None of those three are seniors, and Stocekle‘s addition made a strength even better for the Wildcats. She dropped exactly a second from Friday to Saturday in the 100 breaststroke as she settled in to her new team.
Cal’s Marina Garcia took 4th in 1:03.61, and Maija Roses was 5th in 1:05.02.
The 200 breaststroke was another Arizona sweep in the same order. Schoettmer won in 2:13.52, Stoeckle placed 2nd in 2:15.34, and Borendame was 3rd in 2:15.78. This race showed off Shchoettmer’s true strength – she was able to open up a big lead on the first 150 yards without giving anything back in the last 50.
Garcia again broke the run with a 2:17.78 for Cal to place 4th.
Similarly to Arizona’s dominance in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, Cal owned the women’s 100 fly taking the top four spots. Though it was all Golden Bears for the last 40 yards of this race, this was a great intrasquad battle. The speed-burning Thomas split 25.2 on the first 50 to take a lead, but Farida Osman and Rachel Bootsma fought back on the back-half to place 1-2. Osman swam a 53.83, followed by Bootsma (53.88), Thomas (54.43), and freshman Jasmine Mau (55.04). Arizona’s Elizabeth Pepper took 5th in 55.05 after a very good first 50 of her own – splitting 25.66.
Pepper won her primary event, the 200 fly, earlier in the meet with a 2:00.17. She beat out Bootsma, who was 2nd in 2:01.75. That’s about a second slower for Bootsma than she was at this meet last season.
Arizona also got a diving sweep from their star Sam Pickens. Pickens won the 1-meter by over 50 points (she’s already qualified to represent the United States at the World Championships in that event next summer) and the 3-meter by 20 points.
Almost lost in the excitement of the meet was the women’s 1000 free, which was swum out-of-order before the relays to accommodate the television schedule. In that race, Tjasa Oder from Arizona swam a 9:53.28 to top the wide-ranging Cierra Runge in 10:00.52. Cal’s Marina Garcia was their second-best swimmer, and third overall, in 10:11.52 outside of her normal breaststroke focus.
That time for Oder was significantly faster than she was on the same weekend a year earlier.
Both teams have huge weekends of competition coming up. Arizona has a two-day tri-meet against Texas and SMU, in Austin, on Friday and Saturday; while Cal will welcome in USC and UCLA for dual meets.