The #2 Cal Golden Bears had a statement-win on Saturday in Tucson, where they beat the #7 Arizona Wildcats 205-93.
This result highlights the gap that has formed this year in men’s swimming between the country’s top 2-4 teams and the rest of the country.
Cal started the day with a 1-2 finish in the men’s 1000 free, with Adam Hinshaw taking 1st in 9:18.76 and Janardan Burns taking 2nd in 9:20.47. Though the result earned big points for Cal, it was not an overwhelmingly-dominant result. Arizona freshman Nick Hogsed took 3rd in 9:21.54, and Ty Fowler took 4th in 9:24.60, both with good closing kicks to make the finish interesting.
That was the story of the early part of this meet. Cal picked up a lot of points, resulting in a relatively lopsided score, but Arizona was a few tenths here-or-there away from a much more competitively-scored meet in the early going, though Cal would ultimately look much more dominant later in the day.
Cal topped the opening 400 medley relay 3:13.36 to Arizona’s 3:13.60. The splits on this relay saw errors, but the key came down to the anchored freestyle splits, where Tyler Messerschmidt (43.54) pulled away from Brad Tandy (44.15) to give Cal the win. Those two had several great matchups at this meet.
Those two had several great matchups at this meet. Later in the individual 50 free, Tandy went under 20 seconds, swimming 19.96 to Messerschmidt’s runner-up 20.05. Tandy is one of only 8 swimmers under 20 seconds so far in the new year.
They would again square off on the leadoff legs of their respective 200 free relays, with Tandy again getting the upper hand 20.05-20.20. While the South African won the battle, Cal once again won the war with a 1:20.21 total time to Arizona’s 1:20.60.
Cal’s relay included a 19.65 split from sophomore Ryan Murphy. Murphy, the defending NCAA Champion int he 100 and 200 backstroke, showed with that split that he is really developing into the lock-down, four-relay star that Cal needs him to be.
Individually, he won the 100 backstroke in a runaway with a 47.77, as well as the 100 free in a 43.98 (ahead of Messerschmidt’s 44.52). Murphy has already flat-started faster than 44 seconds in the 100 free twice this season, after only doing so once in all of his freshman year.
The biggest upsets of the meet, which seemed to go all Cal’s way, came in the breaststrokes, where the fastest swimmer ever in the 100 yard and 200 yard races, Kevin Cordes, failed to record a single victory.
In the 100, Cal’s Chuck Katis swam a 53.84 to beat out Cordes’ 54.07. In the longer 200, Cal junior Josh Prenot won in 1:56.69, Katis took 2nd in 1:57.79, and Cordes was just 3rd in 1:59.37. The swim by Prenot puts him as the 5th-astest in the country in the new semester.
Cordes overall hasn’t been as good in-season this year as he has been in the past, though whispers are that Arizona, under new head coach Rick DeMont, has deviated somewhat from it’s traditional mid-season full-taper approach.
Byt he end of this meet, Cal’s star swimmers began to dominate their events. Josh Prenot added wins in the 200 fly (1:47.65 – by over a second-and-a-half), and 400 IM (3:50.53 – by almost 8 seconds) to take three in total on the day.
A pair of Cal freshmen topped the men’s 100 fly, with Justin Lynch touching 1st in 48.41 and Kyle Gornay touching 2nd in 49.28. Arizona sophomore Renny Richmond was 3rd in 49.57.
Arizona travels to Austin on Friday to take on a two-day tri-meet against the near-unanimous #1 team in the country Texas and SMU. Cal welcomes in USC to Berkeley on Friday, after which they’ll have two weeks off heading into a big dual against arch-rivals Stanford.
Full meet results available here.