California college and professional stars dominated the first night of action at the Speedo Grand Challenge event in Irvine. Maya DiRado, Cristian Quintero, Jessica Hardy and Mike Alexandrov were among the winners on night 1.
The Grand Challenge, hosted by Irvine Novaquatics, is a unique format meet. The top 4 from prelims make it into the money round at night, with the top three earning prize money. The winner spins a “mystery wheel” to determine his or her prize money (anywhere from $300 to $1000) and the wheel can also make various modifications to the prizes, like doubling all prize money, or a “winner takes all” stipulation where the winning swimmer gets the prize money for all positions.
Maya DiRado kicked things off, defending her top seed in the 200 IM and earning the prize money as she begins her professional career. The Stanford grad went 2:12.52, a big time drop from this morning to outrun Karlee Bispo (2:13.64) to the wall.
USC’s Jasmine Tosky was third in 2:17.13, and DiRado’s Stanford teammate Felicia Lee was disqualified out of the championship heat.
A pair of California NCAA rivals went at it in the men’s 200 free, putting up an entertaining battle. It was USC’s Cristian Quintero who got his hand on the wall first, going 1:50.01 to top Stanford’s Tom Kremer. Kremer took second in 1:50.44, while the top seed, Jason Dunford, slid to third with a 1:51.05. Stanford grad Bobby Bollier rounded out the A final with a 1:53.50.
The A consol was another great USC-Stanford battle, as Stanford’s Danny Thomson went 1:53.30 to knock off Dakota Hodgson of Trojan Swim Club.
Jessica Hardy rose from the second seed to knock off Stanford’s Sarah Haase in the women’s 100 breast. Hardy was 1:08.79 for the win to Haase’s 1:11.01. Roadrunner’s Jorie Caneta (1:12.07) and 15-year-old Nora Deleske (1:13.57) rounded out the championship heat.
In the men’s event, it was Mike Alexandrov who emerged victorious. The Club Trojan swimmer and former Bulgarian Olympian went 1:01.67 to beat out his training partner Azad al-Barazi. Al-Barazi was 1:02.10.
Portugal’s Carlos Almeida and New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders took third and fourth, respectively. Almeida was 1:03.17 and Snyders 1:04.43.
In the women’s 50 free, former Fresno Pacific star Cheyenne Coffman roared to a big win in 25.47. Coffman, who now coaches and trains at Fresno State, topped a tough field, including Stanford’s breakout freshman sensation Lia Neal, who took second in 25.56. Top-seeded Abby Weitzeil went 25.88 to tie for third with 100 breast winner Jessica Hardy.
Stanford’s Max Williamson defended his top seed in the men’s 200 IM, going 2:02.28. That easily beat high school senior Corey Okubo, who will swim for Princeton next fall. Okubo went 2:03.81 for Aquazot. Coming off of the 100 breast, Mike Alexandrov (2:06.49) and Carlos Almeida (2:06.81) took third and fourth.
Jacob Toumarkin had a great race out of the A consol, going 2:04.17 to win by three seconds.
Finally, in the women’s 400 free it was Lynette Lim who took home the title. Her 4:16.51 easily outpaced the field, which was entirely made up of swimmers 19 and younger behind the 22-year-old Lim.
15-year-old Valerie Slowing took second with a 4:20.89, 17-year-old Remedy Rule was 4:23.19 for third and fourth place went to Tara Halsted, 19, with a 4:27.04.
Aquazot’s Daniela Georges won the A consol with a 4:20.81, dropping over 5 seconds from her prelims time.
Age group events
The girls opened things up, with Aquazot’s Samantha Pearson winning the 100 free. Her 1:01.74 just topped Ella Ristic of Mission Viejo.
Aquazot’s Tanner Pulice won the boys version of the event, going 59.50 to be the only boy to crack a minute.
Later on, 12-year-old Lauren McCormack cruised away with the 50 breaststroke, going 35.09. For the boys, the race went to Nova’s Caden Tran in 37.06, barely beating out Jason Schreiber of Aquazot. Schreiber went 37.30.
Kaitlyn Panopio of The Olympic Club took home the girls 100 back in 1:09.16, the only girl to break 1:10 in the race. For the boys, the event went to Pulice, his second win of the night. The 12-year-old went 1:08.15 to top Vince Matos by half a second.