By James Hemker
In the first conference meet of the season, Stanford secured seven first-place finishes against Arizona State, with none more exciting than junior Johannes Calloni’s 0.15 second victory in the 1,000-yard freestyle.
Against Arizona the next day, sophomore Mason Gonzalez secured wins in the 50-yard free and the 200-yard medley relay by margins of .05 seconds and .06 seconds, respectively.
Emerging from the chaos of a four-way tie at the 50-yard mark, senior Will Macmillan claimed the 100-yard free against the Wildcats with nothing more than a 0.11 second lead.
After the wild finishes, each of which sent the Avery crowd into a frenzy, the swimmers all communicated the same basic sentiment.
“I just put my head down, spun my arms and it all worked out,” Macmillan said.
Guided by this simple mantra, men’s swimming and diving secured two ranked Pac-12 wins on Friday and Saturday. Through these photo finishes and more than a few dominant performances, the No. 19 Cardinal downed No. 13 Arizona State 183-93 before drowning No. 10 Arizona 192-72.
Over the course of the weekend, Macmillan had the most individual success of any Cardinal, winning three events — all against Arizona. In addition to his 100 free performance, the senior outlasted the field in the 200-yard free and the 100-yard butterfly. In the latter, Macmillan held a steady lead from wall to wall.
Gonzalez churned out the most exciting events against the Wildcats with his performances in the 200 medley relay and the 50 free. The medley relay is the opening event for every meet, and Gonzalez’s 19.47 anchoring 50-yard freestyle leg set the tone for the day.
“You don’t know if you’re going to win or not in the 50,” Gonzalez said. “It’s very close, and I enjoy the mystery of it. I just go as fast as I can and see what happens.”
Although he lead a podium sweep of the 200-yard backstroke on Saturday, Calloni’s most impressive race came in Friday’s 1,000 free. Going into the last 50 yards, he trailed ASU’s Benjamin Olszewski by one-and-a-half seconds. Calloni surged with a ridiculous 23.64 second split to close the gap and steal the race. It was the fastest 50-yard split in the 1,000 by any swimmer all weekend.
“Johannes Calloni is a tough cookie,” said Stanford head coach Dan Schemmel. “He came back and won the 1,000 after being on the medley relay 10 minutes earlier. That’s a very tough double to do.”
The Cardinal breaststroke corps proved itself as maybe the most reliable section of the team, with four 1-2-3 finishes in as many races. Senior Hank Poppe headed the 100-yard breaststroke contingent each day, and sophomore Daniel Roy did the same in the 200.
Alex Liang had a redemptive race against Arizona on Saturday in the 200-yard butterfly. The junior had swum the same race the day earlier, but took an extra stroke before the wall. The miscalculation cost him the race by .03 seconds. With a Wildcat bearing down on him, Liang made no such error and won the race by half a second.
Stanford came into the weekend as No. 19 in the polls, but the Cardinal took care of business against two programs ranked significantly higher. Head coach Dan Schemmel thinks the team was under-ranked due to a lack of competitive racing. The Cardinal had no doubts that they would pull out consecutive victories.
“I think we knew we were going to win, to be totally honest,” Macmillan said. “We were very confident, and this was us coming out and showing the world we can swim.”
Next weekend, Stanford will have another pair of meets against the Southern California schools. The team will return for its final home meet of the year against Cal on Feb. 15.
Click here for full Arizona State meet results.
Click here for full Arizona meet results.