By Alex Bhatt
Less than two weeks after Stanford men’s swimming and diving upset over then-No.1 Cal in a nail-biting victory, the Golden Bears returned the favor during this past weekend’s Pac-12 Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. There, No. 1 Stanford finished in second place at the conference tournament to their Bay Area rivals.
Notching 971 points to Stanford’s 769, California denied the Cardinal the opportunity to raise their third straight Pac-12 Championship banner.
The races began Wednesday with Stanford’s 200-yard medley team finishing fourth (1:24.73). The 800-yard freestyle relay (1:41.13) finished in third place, and, by the end of the night, the Cardinal sat in third place with 156 points behind Cal (162) and the USC (177).
The second day saw more success for the Card as junior Abrahm DeVine and sophomore Grant Shoults won individual titles to bump Stanford into second place. Shoults, who clocked the fastest time in the 500-yard freestyle during the regular season, won his second 500-yard freestyle title with a 4:13.70 mark. More Cardinal swimmers were able to rack up points for the team in the event, including senior Liam Egan (third, 4:16.36), freshman Matthew Hirschberger (fifth, 4:16.60), freshman Johannes Calloni (sixth, 4:16.85), sophomore James Murphy (seventh, 4:17.46) and sophomore True Sweetser (16th, 4:24.57).
DeVine (1:41.17) entered the 200 IM with the fastest time in the conference this season, and he swam a personal best in the event to win his first individual Pac-12 title. Senior Curtis Ogren (1:44.03) finished fourth, while freshman Alex Liang (seventh, 1:45:10) and junior Jack Walsh (eighth, 1:45.55) also added to Stanford’s tally. Freshman Brennan Pastorek (1:43.98) swam a personal best and won the B-Final.
In the 50-yard freestyle, freshman Alberto Mestre (19.61) finished eighth in the A-final, while senior Andrew Liang (19.44) won the B-final. Senior Sam Perry (19.68) and junior Brad Zdroik (19.71) placed 13th and 14th, respectively.
At the end of day two, Stanford’s 361 points were good for second place, only behind Cal’s 379. USC had fallen to third with 254 points. Arizona State sat in fourth place with 184. But that was the closest the Cardinal would get.
They began scoring on day three with a second place finish by Ogren (3:40.25) in the 400 IM. Alex Liang (3:43.89) finished in fourth place. Stanford continued to score with two A-final finishes in the 100-yard butterfly by Andrew Liang (45.58) and Zdroik (45.79), who finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
In the 100-yard breaststroke, senior Matt Anderson (52.37) finished third, followed by fourth and seventh place performances by sophomore Hank Poppe (52.66) and Pastorek (53.14).
To end the day, junior Ryan Dudzinski (46.02) finished fifth in the 100-yard breastroke, and the Cardinal’s 400-yard medley relay team clocked in a time of 3:06.01, good for third place in the event.
Going into the final day, Stanford remained in second with 544 points, trailing Cal by 123.
On the last day of events, six of the top eight times in the 1,650 yard freestyle belonged to the Stanford. Freshman Johannes Calloni (14:45.80) paced the Card in third place. Shoults (14:53.26) finished fourth, followed by Murphy (14:54.41) in fifth, Matthew Hirschberger (14:58.12) in sixth, Sweetser (15:01.29) in seventh and Egan (15:02.24) in eighth.
Devine won his second individual event with a time of 1:40.11 in the 200 backstroke. Despite the strong finish, the Card could not erase Cal’s early lead.
Nevertheless, coach Ted Knapp was optimistic about the Cardinal’s strong showing in Washington. “We are very excited for NCAA’s in a few weeks. We expect to see [our veterans] go even faster [there]. We’re also very excited for several first-time NCAA qualifiers.”
The NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, the Cardinal’s next event, will take place at the University Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota from March 21-24.
Contact Alex Bhatt at abhatt21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.