A trio of Cal Bears swept their respective strokes at the Triple Distance showdown between Pac-12 rivals Cal and Stanford. Ryan Murphy, Chuck Katis and Will Hamilton each went 3-for-3 in their event disciplines for Cal.
Stanford got a discipline win from Andrew Liang, while Janardan Burns and Trent Williams each won for Cal.
The Triple Distance meet features three distances of each stroke discipline, with each athlete entering one discipline and competing for the best combined time among all three distances. The 6 individual categories are:
- Butterfly: 50, 100 and 200
- Backstroke: 50, 100 and 200
- Breaststroke: 50, 100 and 200
- Sprint freestyle: 50, 100 and 200
- IM: 100, 200 and 400
- Distance freestyle: 200, 500 and 1650
Murphy won all three backstroke races, not much of a surprise, considering he’s the reigning king of the backstrokes at the NCAA level. His times were very solid across the board. The sophomore took the 50 in 22.10, the 100 in 47.49 and the 200 in 1:43.98. That 100 time is three tenths off of Murphy’s nation-leading 100 back time, and the 200 was a season-best that will vault Murphy to #1 in the NCAA ranks in that event.
His teammate Jacob Pebley was second in both the 100 and 200. Pebley was 49.50 and 1:46.54.
Katis, a senior in his first full season with Cal, won all three breaststroke races. He blew away the field in 25.19 to win the 50, then won by a full one-second margin in the 100 (55.24). He added a 2:00.96 win in the 200 breast to cap off his stroke victory. Stanford’s Daniel Le was second in all three races, putting up a season-best 2:02.02 in the 200.
Hamilton, also a senior, took care of the IM races. The winner of the King of the Pool meet with Cal-Poly, Hamilton cruised through the individual medleys against Stanford as well, taking advantage of the absence of former NCAA champ David Nolan. Hamilton won the 100 IM in 50.19 and the 200 IM in 1:48.30, with Stanford’s Gray Umbach second in both. But his toughest test came in the final event, the 400 IM. Stanford’s highly-touted freshman Curtis Ogren stuck with Hamilton early and surged to a lead through the back and breast legs. But Hamilton roared home with a 52.98 split on freestyle to go 3:52.62 for the win to Ogren’s 3:53.15.
Though Cal got the upper hand in those three disciplines, Stanford found success in the butterfly and distance freestyles. Freshman Andrew Liang was impressive for the Cardinal, winning two of the butterfly distances. He crushed the 50 fly field in 21.60, an excellent swim, especially this early in the season. Liang was also 47.50 to beat Cal freshman Justin Lynch (48.17) for the 100-yard event. Liang remained undefeated until the 200, but got knocked off in that race by Cal’s Long Gutierrez, who was 1:45.95. Liang was still second in 1:47.23 to put up the best average finish within the stroke’s three races. He won the stroke with a combined time of 2:56.33.
In the distance free races, a different man took each event, but Stanford won two of the three. Liam Egan got to play the “short”-distance specialist, taking the 200 free with a 1:42.13. (The meet featured two different 200 free events, one for the sprinters and one for the distance category). His teammate Danny Thomson won the next step up in distance, going 4:31.70 in the 500 free with Cal’s Janardan Burns second. Then Burns took over, winning the 1000 free in 9:17.69.
Burns used that 1000 win to take the overall title with a combined time of 15:33.87. Thomson was close behind in 15:35.05.
In the sprint frees, Cal’s Seth Stubblefield and Trent Williams combined to sweep. Stubblefield won the 50 in 20.52, just a hundredth ahead of teammate Tyler Messerschmidt. Williams took the reins from there, though, winning the 100 (44.68) and 200 (1:37.37). Both were tight races with Stanford’s Tom Stephens, who was 44.71 in the 100 and 1:37.69 in the 200.
That left Williams atop the group in total time with a 2:42.89.
The meet ended with a pair of 200-yard relays, which the teams split. Cal won the 200 medley in 1:27.94. Most notable were the 22.17 on backstroke from Murphy and the 19.69 anchor leg from senior Henry Chung. That’s an exciting swim for Chung, who only broke 20 seconds for the first time last season at Pac-12s. In fact, before last season began, Chung’s lifetime-best was just 20.61. He now becomes a guy to keep an eye on as Cal tries to fill out its relays down the road this season. For Stanford, Gray Umbach was a solid 21.92 on the butterfly leg.
Stanford won the 200 free relay. No one was able to break 20 seconds, but sophomore Connor Black followed up a strong summer with a good 20.25 leadoff leg. Liang kept up his great meet with a 20.14 split and freshman Sam Perry was 20.10 for the Cardinal. Cal got the field’s fastest split from Messerschmidt, who went 19.98.