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Golden Medals: Cal Men's Swimming racing for a 3rd consecutive Pac-12 Title, Women's Tennis took another Big Slam

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One week after the Cal Women's Swimming and Diving repeated as Pac-12 champs, the Cal Men are trying to one up them. Also: Cal Baseball on a roll. Cal Women's Tennis wins Big Slam.

Bears at the 2015 Pac-12 Championships
Bears at the 2015 Pac-12 Championships
Cal Men's Swimming Facebook page

Cal Men's Swimming and Diving

The Golden Bears are going for a three-peat (quick, someone gets legal to make sure that we can use this term without paying Pat Riley) at the Pac-12 Championship this week. Just like last week for the women, Pac-12 Networks is again doing tape delayed coverage on the following 10 AM morning.

Through two days (and a third of the events), the Bears have claimed two Pac-12 titles on relays.

The Cal quartet that won the meet opening 200 medley relay was from left to right Tyler Messerschmidt (free), Chuck Katis (breast), Justin Lynch (fly), and Ryan Murphy (back).

Seth Stubblefield, Tyler Messerschmidt, Fabio Gimondi and Ryan Murphy won the 200 Free relay on Thursday night.

Stanford's Dave Nolan broke the NCAA record in 200 IM and edged out Cal's Josh Prenot and Ryan Murphy. His swims and the Furd diving have them currently on top.

Since the Diving portion of the meet was completed last week, the listed current standing on the CalBears.com website isn't the most accurate. Here is the actual numbers, with a full day of swimming Thursday, the Bears made up about 130 points on Furd. Expect the team scores to be much closer by the end of day 3 (of 4) tonight.

The full tally from SwimSwam:

Team Scores below:

Stanford – 385.0
USC – 335.0
Cal – 268.0
Arizona – 220.0
Utah – 146.0
Arizona State – 145.0

Bears certainly have the speed and depth for the three-peat but this meet might come down to the last few races. I will try to update the number of Cal swimmers that made the A-Finals in the comments below.

Cal Women's Swimming and Diving

Let's relive that dominant week of swimming by the Bears at the Pac-12 Championships. The key thing here is that the Bears certainly look like they are having a ton of fun winning.

Bears are now prepping for the NCAA in Greensboro in two weeks. Thanks to the NCAA deeming CGB and me as legit-enough journalists, I will be onsite for Day 3 (and possibly also Day 2) of the action. For those who can't make this trip, the NCAA's should again be live streamed on ESPN3.

Based on the psych sheet (not the most accurate method since swimmers often drop significant time between conference championships and the NCAA championships), the Bears have a very healthy 130+ points lead on Georgia (the defending champs). Georgia actually have 18 swimmers qualified compared to the Bears' 16.

Since team momentum is such a weird but apparently real thing in team swimming, this NCAA may still turn out to be a very close race between Cal, Georgia, and Stanford.

By the way, Golden Bear great (and CGB Hall of Famer) Natalie Coughlin raced Golden Bear great (and possible future CGB Hall of Famer?) Tom Shields in an exhibition 100 Back race a month ago (it was during the Cal-USC meet). Check it out below (from SwimSwam):

While Shields winning the race is not a surprise, that's a very good time for Natalie Coughlin who has gone away from swimming the 100 Back (her old signature event) in the past 3 years to focus on freestyle sprints - one of her last competitive 100 Back swim was the 2012 London Olympics qualifier where she was just edged out by current Golden Bears in Missy Franklin and Rachel Bootsma.

Cal Women's Tennis

For the 2nd year in the row, Cal Women's Tennis has made Palo Alto a Bear Territory. While this was not the "Big Slam" that counts for the conference standing (that is coming up on April 18th in Berkeley), the then 8th ranked Bears were able to defeat the 7th ranked Stanford last Sunday, on a match that was shown on the Pac-12 Networks.

The final score was Cal 4, Stanford 3 as they allowed the last singles match to finish.

Bears took the doubles point, then followed that up with quick wins in courts 2 and 4 by Fabikova, Susanyi. Manasse and Starr puts up valiant fights in courts 1 and 3 for the Bears. Manasse battled from being down 5-2 in the deciding 3rd set to have a open look for the match and meet winner in the 3rd set tiebreaker but had a bad mishit. It eventually took Cecilia Estlander, who twice battled leg cramps? during the match, to clinch the win for the Bears.

Thanks to the Pac-12 Networks not having a camera position for court 6, the deciding match wasn't really shown on TV (although what they shown in courts 1 and 3 were some exciting stuff that just went against the Bears).

Doubles

1. No. 3 Taylor Davidson/Carol Zhao (Stanford) def. No. 8 Maegan Manasse/Denise Starr (Cal) – 8-4

2. No. 12 Klara Fabikova/Zsofi Susanyi (Cal) def. No. 10 Caroline Doyle/Ellen Tsay (Stanford) – 8-3

3. Lynn Chi/Karla Popovic (Cal) def. Krista Hardebeck/Lindsay Kostas (Stanford) – 8-3

Cal captured the doubles point.

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2*

*Clinched the doubles point

Singles

1. No. 4 Carol Zhao (Stanford) def. No. 2 Maegan Manasse (Cal) – 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)

2. No. 42 Klara Fabikova (Cal) def. No. 13 Taylor Davidson (Stanford) – 6-1, 6-4

3. No. 22 Caroline Doyle (Stanford) def. No. 61 Denise Starr (Cal) – 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-2

4. No. 24 Zsofi Susanyi (Cal) def. Krista Hardebeck (Stanford) – 6-4, 6-4

5. No. 118 Ellen Tsay (Stanford) def. No. 41 Karla Popovic (Cal) – 6-1, 6-1

6. Cecilia Estlander (Cal) def. Lindsay Kostas (Stanford) – 4-6, 6-2, 6-4

Order of Finish: 5, 4, 2, 1, 6^, 3

^Clinched the overall match

Thanks to her victories in both doubles and singles, Klara Fabikova was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Although the Bears have already played the LA schools and Stanford in dual meets, the real Pac-12 schedule starts this weekend. Bears (7-2) had a perfect run through the conference last year.

Interestingly for the Bears, last year's NCAA singles finalist Lynn Chi has not played much since the fall. She has now apparently recovered enough to play in doubles. When she is ready to contribute in singles, the Bears which already feature 5 highly ranked players (4 in the top 50, one just outside in the 60's), including No.1 Maegan Manasse who was ranked No.1 in the country two weeks ago, will have another big weapon. This might be the year that the Bears can go all the way as a team at the NCAA's.

Cal Baseball (9-3)

Cal Baseball have now won 8 of the last 9 games after a 3 game sweep of Kansas State last weekend and a midweek 11-0 win over the USF Dons.

Behind some tremendously great pitching, led by Daulton Jefferies and Ryan Mason. The Bears are also getting some timely hitting with 3B Lucas Erceg maintaining an insane 0.467 average through 12 games. The team is batting 0.304 as a whole on the young season.

Bears host Chicago State for 3 this weekend, starting tonight.

Cal Softball (17-1)

Bears were idle last weekend having a fling in Hawaii last week, taking care of business against Hawaii, San Jose State and Longwood (x2). They have since risen to 16th in the rankings. They are at UNLV this weekend for another tournament against beatable teams in Iowa State, Eastern Kentucky, UC Santa Barbara, and Houston. The tough Pac-12 play starts the following week.

The first game against Iowa State is already underway.

Additionally, Cal senior SS Cheyenne Cordes - a former US Jr National Team member, is one of the 30 finalists for the Senior Class Award. I am sure we will have an online campaign for Chey once that part of the equation is needed.

Cal Rugby

While there were some concern about Utah's physicality prior to the game, the Bears simply dominated the Utah Utes in one of the more dominant outing in recent weeks. It's plausible that the team raised their level of play since it was homecoming.

Bears made easy work of the Utes in an easy 82-5 victory last Saturday.

Against a young Oregon State team, Bears will play a bunch of youngsters themselves this weekend to conclude the PAC Rugby season play.

Cal Men's Golf

For the 2nd year in the row, the Bears are now NIT Champs! It may not as impressive as the basketball NIT, but check out the margin of victory for the Bears.

With 4 tournament wins out of 8 events, the reloaded Cal Men's Golf team, currently ranked 20th in the country, may not suffer much of a rebuilding year.

Cal Track

Cal Track alum (and one time Internet IT girl) Allison Stokke showcases her pole vaulting skill in this neat Go Pro ad.

The Bears were not able to defend their MPSF Indoor title last week, but did set a bunch of personal records. The men finished 8th while the women finished 11th.

Cal Sand Volleyball

Year 2 of Cal Sand Volleyball starts this weekend. The Bears have added Cal alum and former defensive specialists Meagan Schmitt as the associate head coach for the Sand Volleyball program, which in year 2 only includes 3 players from the indoor team. The entirely walk-on squad will compete at Stanford this weekend before hosting some matches by Clark Kerr. Team has also done fund raising for a trip to Hawaii later this season.

CalBears.com has a nice interview with Meagan.

CalBears.com: Why did you take the Cal Job?

Meagan Schmitt: Ever since I graduated from Cal, I was trying to figure out how to get back. Cal is more than just where I went to school. It’s home for me. It’s where my parents went to school. It’s where I not only got my degree, but where I found my career and my mentors. It’s a place where we can grow something and start something great in the sand volleyball world. It’s exactly where I want to be and where I want to finish. There’s nowhere else I want to be.

CB: What are the biggest differences between indoor coaching and sand coaching?

MS: The main difference between coaching indoor and coaching on the sand would be my emphasis on game strategy over technique. The saying "A point is a point" has a lot more value on the sand than it does indoor. While our sand players may not be as physical as the other sand programs up here, they had an entire offseason of sand training, and our goal is to outplay more physical teams.

CB: How is the team embracing the fact they are setting the standard for Cal sand volleyball?

MS: This is a really special group of girls. The first day of fall practice, I gave our freshmen cotton T-shirts, and they were beside themselves with excitement. I’ve never seen that before from any student-athlete in my playing and coaching experiences. Entitled for nothing and grateful for everything – that is exactly the mentality we have right now. We maximize every opportunity, expecting to get nothing in return. It’s a bunch of grateful athletes.

According to the interview below with head coach Rich Feller, NCAA has approved Sand Volleyball to be an NCAA sports in the spring of 2016 when the very first NCAA Sand Volleyball championship will be awarded.

GO BEARS!