Cal Women Set To Take On Minnesota Invite

by SwimSwam 0

November 28th, 2023 College, News, Pac-12, Previews & Recaps

Courtesy: Cal Athletics


BERKELEY – The No. 13 California women’s swimming & diving team returns to competition for the first time in almost a month for a big week at the Minnesota Invitational this Wednesday through Saturday at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis. Along with the Golden Bears, the meet features No. 25 Minnesota, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Ball State and Harvard.

The four-day event features swimming prelims each morning at 8 a.m. PT, diving prelims at 1 p.m. PT with finals at 4 p.m. PT.

Meanwhile, juniors Leah Polonsky and Fanni Fabian and alums Abbey Weitzeil, Farida Osman and Marina Garcia will be in Greensboro, North Carolina, this week for the 2023 U.S. Open.

STADDEN COMES HOME: Senior Isabelle Stadden returns to her home area this week as one of the top backstrokers in the country and a multiple All-American and Pac-12 champion. Stadden, whose hometown of Blaine, Minnesota, is only about 20 miles away from the site of this week’s meet, registered two top-six finishes at last season’s NCAA Championships after placing third in the 200-yard backstroke and sixth in the 100 back. She was also the Pac-12 runner-up in both of those events, as well as the 200 individual medley. Stadden is a two-time Pac-12 champion in the 200 back and an eight-time finalist at the NCAA Championships. Stadden also won the gold medal in the 100 and 200 backs at the 2023 U23 European Championships and registered a pair of top-five finishes (50 back, 100 back) at last summer’s Phillips 66 National Championships. She kicked off this season by being named Queen of the Pool for the second straight year in the annual showdown against Cal Poly that features the 200-yard event in the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley. Stadden has also notched wins in the 100 back and 200 back in dual-meet action.

MAKING THEIR POINT: In addition to Stadden and junior Leah Polonsky, the Bears have three other swimmers on this year’s roster who scored points at last season’s NCAA Championships – Mia Motekaitis in the 200 and 500 freestyles, Rachel Klinker in the 200 butterfly and Mia Kragh in the 100 butterfly. Cal placed 11th as a team at nationals.

POLONSKY POWER: While her teammates are in Minneapolis this week, Polonsky will be competing at the 2023 U.S. Open in Greensboro, representing her native Israel. Polonsky is off to a dominant start to her college season, winning eight straight races in dual meet competition to begin the year. She made a statement at the end of her sophomore year, winning individual Pac-12 championships in both the 200-yard and 400-yard individual medleys. Polonsky qualified for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, in the 200 IM and took 21st. She has scored points in both IMs at the NCAA Championships in each of her first two seasons at Cal.

NEW-LOOK STAFF: The Bears have a new look on deck this season with the addition of associate head coach Josh Huger and assistant coaches Kim Williams and Noah Yanchulis. Huger spent the past four seasons at Tennessee, whose women’s program finished in the top 10 nationally every year he was there. Last year, he helped the Vols’ men’s program to a seventh-place finish – its best in seven years. Huger also helped coach Tennessee’s Jordan Crooks, the 2023 SEC Swimmer of the Year, to the 2023 NCAA championship in the 50 free. Williams was a three-time NCAA champion and six-time All-American as a swimmer at Stanford who spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Northwestern. Yanchulis spent the past five years on the coaching staff at Division II Oklahoma Christian and was a two-time Big East Most Outstanding Swimmer as a student-athlete at Seton Hall.

ON THE MARK: The Bears recently won the Newmark Award for large women’s teams at Cal, given annually to the program with the best cumulative GPA on campus. The awards are broken up by gender and size, and the Bears had the top cumulative GPA of any women’s team at Cal that features a roster of at least 25 student-athletes. The Newmark Awards were established in 2007 by Pat and Kent Newmark in an effort to recognize team academic success at Cal.

SCHOLARLY SWIMMERS: The Bears have been named a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team for 27 straight semesters. Last season, Cal had 14 student-athletes earn spots on the CSCAA Scholar All-America Team. Student-athletes who earned at least a 3.5 grade point average and participated at their national championship were named to the first team. Those who had a 3.5 GPA and achieved a “B” time standard for their national championship or participated at a diving zone qualification meet were named to the Second Team.

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