The Cal men left no question in anyone’s mind about their readiness to race, as they swept the top 2 spots in the first relay of the meet and roared immediately to a commanding lead over the Cardinal. On a gorgeous morning in Palo Alto, the hoards of Missy Franklin fans who showed up in full force for the women’s meet last week were noticeably absent, but the Cal men put on a show for their fans who made it across the bay to watch.
200 Medley Relay
Before this race was the only time Stanford was within striking distance of Cal. Freshman Ryan Murphy led off with a sizzling 21.86 for Cal’s A squad, but it was junior transfer Chuck Katis‘ 24.40 breaststroke split that launched Cal to a big lead over the rest of the field. At this point, it looked like Stanford’s A team was in good position for 2nd place, but that was before senior butterflier Marcin Tarczynski split 20.95 for Cal’s B team and vaulted them into within .28 of Stanford. A 19.77 for B anchor Shayne Fleming, also a senior for the Bears, edged Stanford’s A team by .19, 1:28.65 – 1:28.84. Cal’s A team set a new pool record with their impressive 1:26.77 for the win. The old record stood at 1:27.19, set by Stanford in 2002.
This 1-2 relay finish for Cal portended things to come for the host Cardinal team and left them in a 13-point deficit early in the meet, 15-2.
Cal’s senior distance star Jeremy Bagshaw took this race out hard right from the start, already with a body-length lead 200 yards in. His teammate, Adam Hinshaw, began separating himself from the rest of the pack by the 200 mark as Bagshaw began settling into his pace. At the halfway mark, Bagshaw and Hinshaw had created a sizable gap between them and the rest of the field, and the race for third appeared to be between Stanford’s Jimmy Yoder and Danny Thomson. Bagshaw looked like he was rocket-assisted on the last 50. He turned on his legs and split a completely absurd 23.32 to finish well ahead of the field in 9:04.20. Cal took second place points as well, as Hinshaw finished in 9:11.96. Stanford’s Yoder held on for 3rd with a 9:17.53, and with the completion of this event, Cal was up 30-6.
Cal had already built up incredible momentum through the first two events, and Stanford needed to, if not reverse it, at least stop the bleeding to stay in the meet. Cal would have none of it. Junior Will Hamilton was out fast for the Bears at the 50 with a 22.81 and held onto first through the 100 mark with Stanford’s Tom Kremer and the rest of the field nipping at his heels. Kremer and Cal’s Trent Williams and Long Gutierrez were all within a tenth of each other. With a 50 left to go, it looked like Kremer might have a shot at a win if he pulled off an amazing last 50. It was a fight to the finish, and Cal emerged the clear victor, taking not just the top 2, but top 3 spots. Hamilton, Williams, and Gutierrez swept the event in 1:36.69, 1:37.60, and 1:37.81, respectively. Kremer was the top Cardinal finisher in 4th place with a 1:37.83, a heartbreaking .02 behind Gutierrez.
The freestyle events weren’t treating the Cardinal very well up to this point, and the 50 freestyle offered no respite here. Sophomore standout Tyler Messerschmidt took immediate control over the race from the start, already a few feet ahead of the rest of the field by the turn. With what looked like slow and intentional strokes under the flags, he cruised into the wall for the win in 20.13. He led a back-to-back 1-2-3 sweep for Cal, with Ryan Murphy and sophomore Nick Dillinger touching in 20.34 and 20.38 to round out the top spots. Thomas Stephens finished 4th for the Cardinal in 20.53, although Fabio Gimondi of Cal, out of the exhibition heat, actually finished ahead of him in 20.47. Only the top 3 swimmers from either team can score points regardless of exhibition status – this point becomes relevant later, as we’ll see.
The event schedule finally relented on the freestyle events – would that finally slow the Cal freight train? Would Stanford freshman Travis Johns‘ pink suit sufficiently distract his competitors? Apparently the pink suit wasn’t the good luck charm the Cardinal needed. Cal’s Jacob Pebley rocketed through the butterfly and backstroke to turn at the 100 with a 49.76, well ahead of the rest of the field, but sophomore Josh Prenot responded in breaststroke, taking the lead at the 150 with Stanford freshman Max Williamson just behind. It was another Cal win, but it was actually the first event in which the Cardinal finished higher than 3rd. Williamson touched second, scoring a bit of a relief for the Stanford fans in attendance.
The score stood 76 – 17, a runaway for the Bears.
Kristian Ipsen led a Cardinal sweep of the 1M event with a nearly 100-point victory over teammate Conner Kuremsky, 440.48 – 344.55. Senior Noah Garcia took third place honors for the Cardinal, just back from Kuremsky in 330.00. Stanford’s divers made up some serious ground and brought the score to 79 – 33.
Stanford’s Connor Black and Gray Umbach were out 1-2 at the 50, trying to put the Cardinal back in contention. But Cal senior Marcin Tarczynski roared back in the final 50, splitting an impressive 24.62, to take 1st in 47.32. Stanford held onto the 2nd and 3rd spots as Black and Umbach touched just behind in 47.76 and 47.82, respectively.
Messerschmidt put the exclamation point on a dominating sprint free performance here this morning – again making it look like he wasn’t trying through the last few strokes, but winning anyway – in what looked like a easy 43.39. Seth Stubblefield was 2nd in 44.24 for another convincing 1-2 Cal sweep, and Kremer nabbed 3rd place points for Stanford, finishing in 44.73.
Could David Nolan pull out a badly needed win for the Cardinal? Ryan Murphy answered by flipping well ahead of the field at 22.91 and never relented. Nolan appeared to make up some ground on the last lap, but Murphy touched first in 47.02. Nolan swam a solid 47.78, and Cal’s Pebley was just behind in 48.05.
In a reprise of the 1000 freestyle, Bagshaw was out with a body length lead by the 100 mark, this time over teammate Gutierrez. Turning in 1:42.16 at the 200, Bagshaw made it clear he was putting Shaun Phillips‘ 2006 pool record of 4:19.26 on notice. He’d fallen off the pace just a bit by the halfway mark, but he was so far ahead of the rest of the field at that point that at least the win was guaranteed. Bagshaw finished in 4:20.85, but the excitement came courtesy of his teammates, who rounded out a dominating performance in an impressive 1-2-3-4 Cal sweep of the heat. Gutierrez was 2nd in 4:30.40, and Hinshaw was just behind in 4:30.96. Though Janardan Burns was officially 4th in 4:31.94 for Cal, 4th place points went to the top Cardinal finisher, Justin Buck, who was just behind in 4:32.09.
Cal had long since locked up the win in terms of swimming and diving points, yes, but Stanford was quietly running away with (underappreciated) style points on the heels of Bryan Offutt‘s impressive facial hair display. This writer has never seen a beard requiring hair ties make it through a 500. Offutt was 7th in 4:33.93.
Ipsen completed his signature sweep of the diving events, winning easily in 463.05 on the 3M springboard. It was another Stanford 1-2-3 sweep, as teammates Bradley Christensen and Kuremsky finished second and third, respectively.
If Cal had a weakness that Stanford could take advantage of, it would probably be in the breaststroke events. But Chuck Katis, who had an impressive sprint breaststroke split in the opening medley relay, silenced any such thoughts, as he roared out to the lead at the 50 in 25.65 and held on for the win in 54.26. Prenot was second in 54.65, and Stanford’s freshman breaststroker Daniel Le was the top Cardinal finisher in 3rd with a 54.84.
200 Freestyle Relay
David Nolan ended the day with the fastest overall 50 freestyle – swimming right next to Messerschmidt, he touched him out on the leadoff leg by .04, 20.02 – 20.06. Any momentum this gained the Cardinal, though, was erased over the next 3 legs. This relay played out just like the opening 200 medley relay, with Cal’s A and B teams finishing 1st and 2nd. Cal’s B team hung on by .04 for 2nd place over Stanford’s A team, 1:20.69 to 1:20.73.
The final score? 169-74. Not a great day for Cardinal fans, but both teams will be back in action in a couple weeks in Federal Way, WA, for the Pac-12 Championship meet. Clearly, neither team was rested for this meet, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out for both teams into the rapidly-approaching championship portion of the season.
Full results available here.