It’s been two-and-a-half months, dating back to the first week of November, since the Cal Golden Bears last had a dual meet. But on Friday, in front of a live West Coast audience on the Pac 12 Networks, both the men and women of Berkeley swept their Arizona State counterparts.
The final women’s score was a rousing 229-69 (no exhibitions in place for this meet – perhaps a savior for the television audience), with the Cal men topping the Sun Devils 178-113.
Both the Cal women (#1) and Arizona State women (#24) were ranked in our mid-season top 25, but in relative terms, the depth of the Cal women made them lopsided favorites in this meet, as compared to Arizona State who at NCAA’s will rely on a few individual scorers for most of their points.
In these televised meets, the 1000 free is swum at the beginning of the competition to help the television format, so the Sun Devils actually struck first blood. Senior, and U.S. National Team swimmer, Tristin Baxter took the event in 9:55.56; she and Celina Li were in a battle for the first 900 yards of this race, but in the last four lengths, it was the open water specialist Baxter who put on the afterburners (she closed in a 27.73) while Li faded (she closed in 31.52).
Cal’s Catherine Breed took 3rd in 10:02.50.
That would be the last swimming event that Arizona St. would win at the meet, however, as the Golden Bears rolled.
The home team went 1-2 in the women’s 200 medley relay, with their A swimming a 1:40.44 and their B swimming a 1:41.96. Cal continues to tinker with those relay lineups, and at this meet they had Rachel Bootsma, Marina Garcia, Cindy Tran, and Kaylin Bing. The only leg where the B out-split the A was on the fly leg, where Farida Osman was a 23.92 to Tran’s 24.19.
Both Tran and Osman are really coming around in the last couple of meets, with the bounce beginning at Winter Nationals.
Aside from that relay, Tran also won the 100 backstroke, beating National Team member Liz Pelton 54.31-54.53 as part of a Cal 1-4 finish.
Led again by Tran, the Cal women took 1-5 (including exhibitioned swimmers) in the 100 fly as well. This time, Tran won in 54.97, besting an impressive internal competition that included Olympian Rachel Bootsma (55.40), near-Olympian Sophia Batchelor (55.40), and the Olympian Osman (55.66).
Another Olympian, on this rings-filled Cal team, Missy Franklin took home three individual wins to add to a remarkable freshman season. She began her night by winning the 200 free in 1:47.07, two seconds better than teammate Caroline Piehl (1:49.43). She then moved on to the 200 backstroke, another two-second victory, with a 1:57.86.
Finally, Franklin topped the 500 free in 4:50.90 over Breed’s 4:55.07, which led right into leading off Cal’s winning 200 medley relay (1:33.03 – Franklin’s split was 23.31).
Though a swimmer as versatile as Franklin has a lot of options for event entries at NCAA’s, it’s looking more-and-more like those might be her three individuals for NCAA’s.
Another freshman and Olympian, Spaniard Marina Garcia, swept the women’s breaststroke races. She took the 100 in 1:02.18, beating teammate Melissa Bates (1:02.99); and later would take the 200 by a more significant margin, with a 2:14.87 to beat Arizona State’s Tory Houston (2:19.16).
Arizona State did wind up with two more wins from their women; specifically, on the diving boards. Arizona St. only traveled one, but that one took a sweep of the events. Hailey Casper won both the 1-meter (307.50) and 3-meter (335.03) against a sleuth of Bears.
Editor’s note: a group of bears is known as a “sloth” or a “sleuth.” We chose “sleuth,” as we thought it would be less confusing.
The men’s meet was not quite as lopsided in the final score, though the Cal men slid in a few more exhibitions of non-winning swimmers.
The big news from the men’s side was the Cal debut of Chuck Katis. The junior is in his first semester after a transfer from Harvard, where he’s the school record holder in both breaststroke events, and might be the missing piece that the Cal men need to make a run at the NCAA title.
Katis proved his value by winning the 200 yard breast in 2:00.19 in one of three swims on the day. He was also immediately inserted into Cal’s winning 200 medley relay, where along with Tony Cox, Marcin Tarczynski, and Seth Stubblefield, he was part of a winning time of 1:27.20 that included a 19.52 Stubblefield anchor.
On that medley, Katis split 24.51, which was the fastest split of the field. Cal has struggled with what to do on that 200 medley, as their breaststrokers all tend to be better in the longer distances.
He also swam the 100 backstroke, not a primary event of his, and put in a respectable 50.54.
For Arizona State, the top swimmer of the night was butterflier Alex Coci. He started his individual swims with a rousing 1:47.92 in his best event, the 200 fly. The only swimmer close to him was Cal junior Dane Stassi, but Stassi would ultimately be DQ’ed after just touching the wall first in 1:47.87. Stassi flinched on the start.
Nobody would get to the wall before Coci in the 100 fly, where he was a 48.58 to beat Cal’s Nick Dillinger (49.05).
Cal star freshman Ryan Murphy won the 200 free in 1:37.51, beating teammates Will Hamilton (1:38.18) and Tyler Messerschmidt (1:38.72). Murphy then turned around and won the 100 free running away in 44.27 – though that race didn’t include Cal’s top two sprinters. In addition to his backstroking, Murphy continues to have a big impact on his team’s freestyle group as well this season.
In the other men’s sprint event, Seth Stubblefield, who is one of Cal’s top sprinters, won in 20.00.
Jacob Pebley won the 100 back in 47.97 ahead of Arizona State freshman Richard Bohus (50.03).
Josh Prenot won the 100 breast in 55.47, just getting his fingertips on the wall ahead of Arizona State sophomore Thibault Capitaine: the Sun Devils performed very well on Friday in the 100 yard races.
Prenot also won the 400 IM in 3:51.45, which was 6 seconds faster than teammate Adam Hinshaw (3:57.11).