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Grant Shoults, men’s swimming start strong at Pac-12s

Cardinal currently in first place in Washington

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Since Wednesday, No. 16 men’s swimming (4-1, 3-1 Pac-12) has been competing in the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Washington. Stanford is currently in the lead — 15.5 points ahead of second-place Berkeley.

The Cardinal have had two event victories so far in both the 400-yard medley relay and senior Grant Shoults’s 500-yard freestyle.

The highlight of Wednesday evening was Stanford’s first-place 400-yard medley relay — comprised of senior Benjamin Ho on backstroke, senior Hank Poppe swimming breaststroke, junior Alex Liang on butterfly and sophomore Mason Gonzalez anchoring the freestyle leg.

The Cardinal relay appeared to come in third, clocking in at 3:06.81 behind Berkeley (3:02.85) and Arizona State (3:04.54). It was soon announced, however, that both Berkeley’s and Arizona State’s butterflyers dove in early, disqualifying their relay. Thus, the Cardinal claimed the event title due to this technicality.

The other event of the night was the 800-yard freestyle relay, where Stanford pulled a solid performance of 6:15.79, placing fourth in the event. Senior Will Macmillan led off and was followed by sophomore Jack LeVant, senior James Murphy and Shoults, who anchored the relay with an impressive 1:32.48.

Wednesday was a solid start for the swimmers building on an outstanding diving meet last week. Conor Casey was named the Pac-12 diver of the meet and claimed both the 1-meter and 3-meter event titles, becoming the first from Stanford to do so in five years.

Thursday continued with prelims and finals in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay.

Stanford had an impressive 500-yard freestyle event. Shoults came in first place in both prelims and finals, touching the wall at 4:15.32 in prelims and 4:12.45 in finals. He was able to claim the event title in the finals in a close race with Berkeley’s Julian Trenton, who Shoults out-touched by 0.32 seconds.

Junior Matthew Hirschberger came in second place in consolation finals (10th overall) with a time of 4:17.32. LeVant came in 12th overall (4:17.80), junior Johannes Calloni came in 13th (4:18.98), Murphy came in 14th (4:19.05) and freshman Andrew Matejka came in 16th (4:21.78).

The next event was the 200-yard individual medley. Junior Brennan Pastorek placed the highest of the Stanford athletes, earning fifth place in the championship final with a time of 1:44.02. Liang came in right behind him at 1:44.14.

Freshman Shane Blinkman earned 10th (1:45.32), sophomore Jonathan Cook came in 12th (1:45.97) and Ho came in 13th (1:46.15). Sophomore Daniel Roy also earned a spot in the bonus final.

The 50-yard freestyle was next and was the weakest event of the day for the Cardinal. None of the Stanford athletes made it into the championship final. Junior Jordan Greenberg tied for 12th, coming in at 19.73. Gonzalez came in 15h (19.84) and freshman Neel Roy came in 16th (19.94).

At the end of the day, Stanford was ahead with 253.5 points. Berkeley is catching up quickly, however. At the end of Wednesday’s meet, they were 95 points behind, but they are now in second place with 238 points.

The meet will continue Friday morning with prelims in the 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard backstroke.

Contact Natalie Hilderbrand at nhild ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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