Male Swimmer of the Meet- Chad La Tourette (Stanford)- though he only won one race, he had the single most impressive performance of the weekend.
Female Swimmer of the Meet-Maya DiRado (Stanford)- The Stanford freshman won three individual events on the weekend to earn the honor.
The Arena Invite, hosted by UC-San Diego and loaded with the best teams in the Western US, saw a ton of fast swimming. In some respects, this was not unexpected, with top teams like the #1 Stanford women, #3 Stanford men, #5 Cal women, and #18 UNLV men.
What was surprising were the numbers put up by the unranked Arizona State women, unranked Hawaii, unranked Air Force, and other less unheralded squads.
Stanford used this meet, which was set up with the official NCAA schedule, to get the bulk of their NCAA qualification times, and in that regard they were very successful. As an indication of just how fast this meet was: in this meet that has been around since at least the 80’s and has played host to such swimming superstars as Julia Smit, Ous Mellouli, Dana Vollmer, and Dan Jorgensen, 19 out of the 36 meet records were broken this weekend.
In the 200 free relay, the Stanford sprinters really popped their heads up for the first time this season by posting a blazing time of 1:18.80, including a second leg split of 19.24 from sophomore Aaron Wayne.
The first real fireworks in an individual event came in the women’s 200 IM. Coming into the weekend, there were 4 swimmers in the country who had times under the 2 minute mark. In this meet alone, 5 swimmers broke that barrier, led by a 1:56.28 from freshman Maya DiRado: the top time in the nation and just a tenth off of the NCAA automatic qualifying cut. Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz, who made a huge mark nationally in the IM races this summer at long course nationals, was third in 1:57.9, though Cal didn’t seem to be fully rested for this meet.
Stanford again dominated in the next event, the 50 free, including a nationally best 22.26 from junior Betsy Webb. That time would have been good for 5th at last year’s NCAA’s, and is easily the best time in the nation this year. Cal’s Liv Jensen, the defending champ in this event, was 4th in 22.56. Overall, the Cardinal had 5 women go 22.6’s or better this season, which lines them up for an explosive relay in March.
Though Stanford dominated day 1, on day 2, the smaller programs really made their marks. This began with the Arizona State women’s 200 medley relay. Last year, they received scoring at NCAA’s only from their divers and from breaststroker Rebecca Ejdervik. This year, Ejdervik looks like she will be able to lead the Sun Devil relays to big points as well. Her leg is what really broke this race open thanks to a split of 27.08, over a second faster than Stanford’s Liz Smith.
Later on in the session in the 100 breaststroke, Ejdervik just missed being only the second woman under a minute this season by marking a 1:00.04. San Diego State’s Katelyn Weddle put up the third best time in the country at 1:00.29 to finish second in the race. At this point in the season, Jillian Tyler looks to be the lead dog in the breaststroke, but both of those swimmers will be strongly in the mix for a top-3 NCAA finish.
In the 800 free relay, Stanford put up a time of 7:05.98, which is the first “top speed” time in the nation this year. That time will stand as the challenge during the rest of the winter invite season, which is likely the only time we’ll see a significant number of these relays swum between now and conference championship meets in February.
In the men’s day 2 races, the day got off to a bang in the men’s 200 medley. Through the first 200 yards of the race, the Stanford and UNLV “A” relays were quite literally in a dead heat (never more than .01 apart at a turn) throughout. When the butterfliers hit the water, however, UNLV’s Cody Roberts broke the race open against Stanford’s Bobby Bollier. Roberts split a 21.13 for the Rebels, which bested the more distance-oriented Bollier’s time by six-tenths of a second. UNLV closed the relay out in 1:27.66, the fastest time in the nation, and Stanford touched in 1:27.99: second-best.
Later in the session we saw more great butterfly times as Roberts, just a sophomore, went a nationally-best mark of 47.45 in the 100 fly. Hawaii’s Italian sophomore Luca Mazzurana, the defending Conference USA Swimmer of the Year, went the second best time in the country of 47.76, and Bollier finished with the number four time in the country of 47.84.
Stanford again was back in control on the third and final day of the meet, where they won 10 out of the 12 A-finals. Among the most impressive of these wins was Chad La Tourette swimming a 14:47.6 in the mile. This time is fast enough to beat any time swum by someone not named Chad La Tourette at NCAA’s last year, and could set him up to take a run at Chris Thompson’s NCAA mile record, which is the most storied mark in the nation. It’s still an outside chance, but based on his lackluster 4:26 in the 500, he didn’t appear to be as rested as some of his Stanford teammates.
The Stanford men also put up far-and-away the two best times in the country in the 200 back from their sophomore Matt’s Thompson and Swanson, who went a 1:43.40 and a 1:43.50 respectively.
On the women’s side, the Cardinal dominated the 100 freestyle. Between prelims and finals of this session, they put up the three fastest times in the country this year and five of the top six. The spearhead of this group is Kate Dwelley, who won the race in 48.58. With that kind of depth, it’s no surprise that Stanford finished 1-2 in the 400 free relay, including easily the best time in the nation of 3:15.39.
UNLV took the 400 free relay on the men’s side with a time of 2:57.57. What was striking here is that the Rebels are putting up their great free relay times on the strength of consistency, rather than one flashy swimmer at the anchor. Their relay splits all fell within a tight range from 44.11-44.59. What this means at NCAA’s is that they are not overly dependent on any one swimmer, so the effects of any injuries or missed tapers is minimized.
1. Stanford University 1442.5
2. Air Force Academy 930.5
3. UNLV 882
4. University of Hawaii 852
5. UC San Diego Tritons 636.5
6. UC Santa Barbara 544.5
7. Cal St University Bakersfield 421
8. Arizona State University 339
9. Brigham Young University 326.5
10. University of Utah 267.5
1. Stanford University 1641
2. UC Berkeley 792
3. Arizona State University 693.5
4. San Diego State Univ 691
5. UCLA 531
6. UNLV 481.5
7. Oregon State University 435
8. San Jose State University 410
9. Brigham Young University 323
10. UC Santa Barbara 291
11. UC San Diego Tritons 241
12. University of Utah 231
13. University of Hawaii 230
14. Colorado State University 159
15. Fresno State 151
16. University of San Diego 141
17. Loyola Marymount 130
18. Cal St University Bakersfield 76
19. UC Davis 32
20. Unattached 26
Full results are available here.
Other Pac-10 News:
Most of the Pac-10 is competing at Arizona’s Wildcat diving invitational, and it’s clear that amongst NCAA contenders, USC has the upper-hand in diving competitions. Arizona was also surprisingly good in their home competition….Though we’ve been told the Cardinal expect Austin Staab back this season, we still haven’t seen him in a notable meet anywhere since June 5th. His name is still on the Stanford roster…