Two-time defending NCAA champion Cal came out on top over arch-rival Stanford on their Senior Day at the Spieker Aquatic Center in Berkeley, California, 139-104. Shayne Fleming and Tom Shields won two events each for the Bears. David Nolan won three events for the Cardinal, while teammate Kristian Ipsen claimed victories in both diving events.
This marks Cal’s first victory over their arch rival in their yearly dual meet since 2005, when a Duje Draganja and Mike Cavic-led Cal squad beat Stanford in the heavy rain (also some of the fastest dual meet times you will ever see).
With the start of the PAC 12 meet being moved up to next Sunday, the coaching staffs agreed on a short, unique meet format; 5 individual freestyle events, 2 relays, the 400 IM, and the 100’s of stroke. There were some notable swims on both sides, with Cal looking much more polished than the their Bay Area counterparts.
200 Yard Medley Relay
David Nolan started off fast with a great lead off leg, and the Cardinal didn’t look back; they touched first in 1:26.92, with Cal taking 2nd and 3rd in 1:27.52 and 1:28.57. Nolan, the former high school national record holder and last year’s NCAA runner-up in both backstroke events, was out in 21.97 before handing off to converted-sprint-breaststroker Andrew Saeta. Saeta (who split 24.44) appears to be half of the Cardinal’s answer to their breaststroke conundrum; the 6’7” senior has made the most out of his pullouts, getting under 24.5 in each of his last two dual meets (including beating American record holder Kevin Cordes when the Cardinal swam Arizona. Shields (20.33) closed the gap with his patented underwaters, making up almost a full second on Stanford’s Jack Lane (21.16), but Aaron Wayne anchored in 19.35 to seal the win.
Though Stanford claimed the opening relay, Cal showed the depth at their disposal come championship season. Coach Dave Durden will have plenty of backstrokers (Auburn transfer Tony Cox, freshman Jacob Pebley, Marcin Tarczynski), breaststrokers (Trevor Hoyt, Josh Prenot, Christian Higgins), and freestylers (Shayne Fleming, Seth Stubblefield, freshman Nick Dillinger) to choose from for the medley relays.
Notably, Cal freshman Scott Haeberle deserves a shoutout for having the fastest breaststroke split in the heat (24.15). It’s worth noting that Haeberle was suited up and looked to be shaved, and this may have been his taper meet; Cal has 30+ swimmers, and there are limits on the number of swimmers that can travel to PAC 12’s and swim.
1000 Yard Freestyle
Cal quickly stole back momentum in the next event, thanks to a 1-2 finish from Adam Hinshaw and Jamey Lyon. Hinshaw turned in his fastest 1000 time of season (9:02.77), his fastest time this season, and 5th fastest overall in NCAA dual competition this season. Splitting consistently between 27.0 and 27.2, the Cal sophomore built a big lead early, going out in 1:46.5 at the 200 and 4:29.5 at the 500. Lyon, the true freshman distance specialist, finished in 9:10.22, which was his fastest time of the season, as well. Cal’s distance program, which has seen big improvments under Durden and former assistant Greg Meehan, hasn’t missed a beat with the acquisition of new assistant Yuri Suguiyama.
Drew Cosgarea (9:17.30) and Danny Thomson (9:18.89) touched 3rd and 4th for the Cardinal. Those were well off season bests for each of them and uncharacteristically slow for the Cardinal distance guys at this time of year, maybe speaking to a different PAC 12 strategy for Stanford’s top swimmers. With the new NCAA qualification method, there are additional individual spots available; a more predictable 29-31 instead of 18-22. Coming into this meet, Thomson and Cosgarea are ranked 13th and 15th in the 1650 (that includes times from the SEC championships), respectively. Although there are still some big conference meets remaining, many of the top swimmers (Connor Jaeger and Ryan Feeley from Michigan, Michael McBroom from Texas, Cristian Quintero from USC) in those conferences are already in front of them in the rankings. We’ll learn more in a few days when PAC 12’s kicks off.
Jamie Tyrrell of Cal rounded out the scoring in 9:19.96.
200 Yard Freestyle
Tom Shields led wire-to-wire, claiming his first win of the day in 1:34.70. The senior spent about half the race underwater, as he is prone to do, splitting a consistent 24.1-24.1-24.2 over his last three 50s. This makes the second straight meet Shields has been under 1:35 (he was 1:34.68 against USC two weeks ago), a remarkable barrier to break in dual meet competition; anything under 1:35 usually scores at NCAA’s.
Stanford freshman Tom Kremer was second in 1:37.24, holding off freshman rival Trent Williams, who touched in 1:37.29. Kremer—an excellent flyer and IM—also made good use of his walls to turn in his second fastest time of the season (just off his 1:36.87 from the Arena Invite in November, Stanford’s mid-season focus meet). Williams and teammate Will Hamilton (who finished 4th in 1:37.88) will prove valuable for the Bears’ 800 free relay at NCAA’s, where they look to take the top spot after finishing 2nd to Texas a year ago.
Thomas Stephens rounded out the scoring in 1:38.31 for Stanford.
50 Yard Freestyle
Cal opened up the meet here with a key 1-2 finish from Shayne Fleming and Nick Dillinger, who touched in 20.10 and 20.14, respectively. The Cal duo was unphased by the first of many delayed start cadences throughout the meet, getting an early lead over Stanford senior Andrew Saeta (who was 3rd in 20.25). Dillinger looks to fill the spot on Cal’s 200 freestyle relay left by the departure of Tyler Messerschmidt. The Bears upset the field in that relay last year, willing from an outside lane with four underclassmen. They are in a good position to battle Auburn, Michigan, Stanford, and an upstart Florida State squad for the title.
Stanford freshman Sean Duggan (20.65) and Cal senior Chris Packer (20.76) rounded out the scoring.
400 Yard IM
Versatile Cal freshman Josh Prenot broke open this race in the breaststroke and cruised to a 2.5 second victory in 3:51.43. Prenot, who had the top time in the country this year prior to this weekend’s conference meets, went 31.4-31.7 in the third 100 to break open a 5 second lead. Stanford senior Matt Thompson turned in his lifetime-best dual meet 400 IM to finish 2nd in 3:53.96. Thompson, a notorious taper swimmer, has looked stronger and more confident this season than his previous three. He’ll be critical for the Cardinal at the end of March.
Cal freshman Jacob Pebley built a big lead after the backstroke (his specialty) before ultimately holding off Stanford’s Mason Shaw and teammate Ben Hinshaw for third in 3:55.67. Pebley, the Oregon native whose best event is the 200 backstroke, also showed some speed on the 200 medley relay in his first race of the meet, splitting 22.8 on the Bears’ B relay. Shaw of Stanford used a big breaststroke leg to close the gap on the field, touching just behind Pebley in 3:56.02, with Hinshaw (who always comes up big in this event come championship season) finishing 6th in 3:56.26.
1 Mtr Diving
Stanford sophomore Kristian Ipsen won this event for the Cardinal with a score of 396.15. Teammates Collin Pollard (351.60) and Tommy Selby (344.85) were 2nd and 3rd for the Bears, with Noah Garcia (339.38) and Connor Kuremsky (338.85) finishing 4th and 5th for Stanford.
100 Yard Fly
Cal came out of the first diving break with another 1-2 finish. In his final dual meet race at Cal, Tom Shields touched first (in what has now become a standard procedure over the last couple of years) in 46.02. Marcin Tarczynski (47.98) ran down Stanford freshman Gray Umbach (48.00) and sophomore Jack Lane (48.20) over the last 25 yards to take second. Will Hamilton, NCAA champion in the 200 fly last season, finished 5th in 49.15.
100 Yard Freestyle
Aaron Wayne used a great final 25 to separate himself from the field and take first in 44.01. Seth Stubblefield challenged the Stanford senior, taking second in 44.32. Fabio Gimondi was 3rd in 44.55. Sean Duggan (45.39) and Michael Haney (45.62) of Cal rounded out the scoring.
100 Yard Backstroke
David Nolan, the NCAA runner up from a year ago in this event, used great underwaters to build an early lead, touching first in 47.68. Jacob Pebley, whose best event is the 200 back, showed great closing speed to come back on Nolan, but settled for 2nd in 47.95. Josh Prenot of Cal, continuing to prove his value and versatility, touched 3rd out of lane 8 in 48.24. Auburn transfer Tony Cox (49.11) and Matthew Swanston (49.26) of Stanford finished 4th and 5th,
500 Yard Freestyle
Jeremy Bagshaw, the junior mid-distance specialist from Cal, was first for the Bears in 4:24.01. Bagshaw has looked very strong in recent weeks, battling USC stud Cristian Quintero in the distance events in their recent dual meet, and continued with a big win here. Teammate Scott Farley was 2nd in 4:30.34. Stanford went 3-4-5 in this event, led by renowned beard-grower Bryan Offutt (4:31.78). Freshman Jeff Garnier finished 4th in 4:33.22, with Cosgarea in 5th at 4:37.37.
3 mtr Diving
Kristian Ipsen was absolutely dominant in this event, winning his best event handily in 492.30. Collin Pollard was a distant second for Cal in 364.73.
100 Yard Breaststroke
In the final individual event of the day, David Nolan pulled away over the final 50 for the win in 54.05. Cal freshman Scott Haeberle (mentioned above) was out like a shot in 25.38 before fading to second in 54.83. His teammates Josh Prenot (55.23), Trevor Hoyt (55.40), Ryan Studebaker (55.62), and Chris Leon (55.91) completed a 2-6 finish for the Bears.
200 Yard Freestyle Relay
A botched Stanford transition and a huge third leg from Nick Dillinger were the difference in this event, as the Bears came back to beat Stanford by four one-hundredths, 1:19.89 to 1:19.93. The Cal freshman hit the water and instantly closed the gap over Sean Duggan of Stanford, outsplitting his rival 19.79 to 20.17. Stanford anchor Andrew Saeta looked to take the lead off the final turn of the race, but a late breath stifled his momentum, and Seth Stubblefield was able to get his hand on the wall first.
These two teams will face off again at the PAC 12 Championships, which begin next Sunday.