Video interview produced by SwimSwam Production Manager Coleman Hodges.
Cal vs Stanford final meet before 2015 Pac 12 Champs – Reported by Braden Keith
In both teams’ final tuneup, two weeks out of the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Washington, the Cal Golden Bears easily defeated the Stanford Cardinal at home on Saturday 184.5-115.5
For 10 Cal seniors, this was their last dual meet of their college careers and completed the third consecutive season going undefeated in dual meets. Their streak is 22-straight, dating back to the 2012-2013 season.
Neither team showed their full hand, though there were a lot of very good swims given that this is still two weeks out of the conference championships.
The Cal men started the day with wins in the meet’s first 6 events, beginning with the 200 medley relay. There, they swam a 1:25.85 to Stanford’s 1:26.89, which included a 21.41 leadoff from sophomore Ryan Murphy (Nolan was 21.59), a 24.00 breaststroke split from Chuck Katis, a 20.79 fly leg from Justin Lynch, and a 19.65 anchor from Seth Stubblefield.
Stanford, while they were beaten on every leg of that relay, was a solid 1:26.98 for 2nd.
Next up, Cal went 1-2-3 in the 1000 free, led by Adam Hinshaw (9:15.06) and Janardan Burns (9:15.74). The two started on very similarly (they were actually tied at the 250 mark), but around 600 yards, Hinshaw began to push the pace ahead just a bit. While Burns closed expectedly well, the deficit was too big to overcome at that point.
Stanford’s top finisher was Danny Thomson in 4th with a 9:26.45.
Next up, sophomore Long Gutierrez, who has sneakily put himself on the precipice of being the next star for this Cal team, won the 200 free in 1:36.37. He was able to hold off Stanford’s David Nolan by the narrowest of margins, .01 seconds, thanks to a big 3rd 50.
Cal’s Trent Williams took 3rd in that race in 1:37.09.
The home team put up another 1-2-3 finish in the 100 backstroke, led by a 46.41 from the defending NCAA Champion Murphy. That’s the fastest non-conference, non-invitational time in the country this season, and was a second-and-a-half clear of the field.
His medley-relay partner Chuck Katis then put up a similarly-dominant win in the breaststroke, swimming 53.63 for victory.
Junior Josh Prenot and freshman Justin Lynch would then add one more 1-2 finish in the 200 fly (1:45.30 and 1:46.04, respectively) to cap off their run.
Stanford’s first win of the day came in event 7, the men’s 50 free, where Jack Descombes swam a 20.15 to out-touch Cal’s Dillon Williams (20.19) and Henry Chung (20.30). That swim for Descombes is a great sign, as it’s a new lifetime best for him still two weeks out of the Pac-12 Championships.
Stanford would parlay that win into a run of their own, as they followed it with two more. Kristian Ipsen won the men’s 3-meter running away with a big score of 456.08, and out of the break Stanford went 1-2 in the 100 free.
Thomas Stephens led the way in that 100 free with a 44.22, and Tom Kremer took 2nd in 44.41, before Cal’s Seth Stubblefield was 3rd in 44.53.
Cal junior Tyler Messerschmidt had a challenging day in the sprints, taking 5th in the 50 (20.52) and 4th in the 100 free (44.53). If Cal is going to repeat their NCAA title, they need Messerschmidt to swim well in March, though he did swim better in the relay at the end of the meet than in his individuals.
The rest of the day was all Cal in the lanes, as several swimmers picked up their second individual wins.
Murphy won the 200 backstroke in 1:42.54 (yet another Cal 1-2-3); Gutierrez won the 500 free in 4:17.14; and Josh Prenot won the 200 IM in 1:45.16.
Cal closed the day with a second relay win, one that came down to the wire. The team of Murphy (44.03), Messerschmidt (44.14), Gimondi (44.49), and Stubblefield (44.24) built a lead early, and while Stanford chipped a little bit away on legs 2, 3, and 4, Cal had just enough to hold on for the victory.
Stephens anchored for the Stanford relay in 43.71 as they took 2nd in 2:57.05 behind Cal’s 2:56.90. Stanford managed to be competitive in that relay even without using David Nolan thanks to a sneaky-good sprint freestyle group that could fly under the radar to a good finish in Iowa City at NCAA’s.