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Golden Medals: Cal Men’s Swimming beats Stanford on Senior Day

And recaps of another busy week of Cal Athletics action

The Today Show Gallery of Olympians
Calympian and Senior Ryan Murphy will race collegiately one last time from Spieker Aquatics Complex on Saturday.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Just like last week, there will be two other posts from this one for the long weekend’s Cal Olympic sports action (not counting my Cal Baseball preview from yesterday). While the 8th ranked Cal Women’s Tennis could not bring home back-to-back ITA Indoor Tennis championships after falling to eventual finalist North Carolina in the Quarter-finals round, 5th ranked Cal Men’s Tennis will look to win the ITA Indoor national championship for the 3rd time in program history this weekend from Charlottesville, VA.

Cal Rugby will be the special recipient of its own post this weekend (tomorrow) for the big match against the visiting University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the home leg of the annual “World Cup” battle. That match is scheduled for 2pm PT and will be broadcasted live on Pac-12 Bay Area.

Cal Men’s Swimming hosts Stanford in an untelevised Senior Day meet on Saturday

On Saturday at noon PT, Golden Bears will celebrate their 5 seniors, led by Calympian superstar Ryan Murphy and fellow Calympian Long Gutierrez. Also graduating is NCAA championship breast stroker vet Hunter Cobleigh, freestyle sprinter Jonathan Fiepke, and free/fly racer Dillon Williams. The quintet were a part of Cal’s last NCAA team championships four years ago; they would love nothing more but to close their collegiate career with another team championship. By the way, it is their Bay Area rival Stanford that will be starting in the adjacent lanes.

Starring along side Ryan Murphy for the Golden Bears this year is sophomore Andrew Seliskar, the reigning Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month, and a likely future US Olympic star to replace Michael Phelps/Ryan Lochte as the premier Fly/IM swimmer for the Tokyo 2020 games. The Golden Bears are 4-0 in dual meet this season and are ranked 2nd in the nation behind NC State.

While the currently 11th ranked Stanford men may not challenge the Cal men at the NCAA next month as much as Texas (looking for a three-peat), the Junior University swimmers are still a fairly formidable bunch. Look out for distance swimmer True Sweetser (real first name is Nicholas), senior free/fly racer Jimmy Yoder, and distance freestylist Liam Egan. Distance swimming and free style are the strength of the Cardinal.

Of course, the latest SwimSwam “Swimulator” (which factors in taper for swimmers) from two weeks ago is predicting a close three way ties for the NCAA championship this year with Cal just ahead of Stanford and Texas. It will be a very exciting championship comes March 22nd-25th.

At this point of the season, I believe most of the key guys have already qualified individually for the NCAA Championships. For more details on how a swimmer can qualify for the championship, read this article here. In short, swimmers need to make the “A” cut of an event, which will allow him to compete in other events where he may only make the “B” cut. For flexibility at the NCAA’s, some swimmers may swim some other events in some of these dual matches in the hope of making more A and B cuts.

Cal Women’s Gymnastics - Squad still seeking 1st meet win since Toni-Ann Williams injury

In case you missed my update to the Golden Medals post last week, Jamaican Calympian Toni-Ann Williams is likely out for the season after rupture her achilles two weeks ago. Unfortunately for the Bears, who are still good enough to make a run of a return trip to the NCAA Championships, they have not won a meet since that bad news.

After a road loss to the very good Utes, the Bears (4-2, 2-2 in Pac-12) had an uncharacteristically mistakes-heavy meet at Arizona to drop their 2nd straight decisions. The now 18th ranked Golden Bears will hope that home cooking is just the cure that they need when they host the 12th ranked Oregon State on Saturday at 4:30 pm PT. This meet will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.

Come to Haas Pavilion to see impressive routines like this in person.

OSU (6-1, 2-1 in Pac-12) are coming off one of their biggest meet in program history as they edged No.4 Utah 196.550-196.525 from Corvallis. Kaytianna McMillan had a clutch floor routine to give the Beavers the win. McMillan claimed the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week honor as the result.

Cal Softball - What we learned from the 1st weekend of action

No.21 (previously No.24) Cal Softball went 4-1 at the Puerto Rico Tournament, beating Georgia Tech twice while splitting two games with North Carolina. Bears also defeated Illinois, who they will face again this weekend from the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs.

So what have we learned from the very very young season?

  • The Cal offense is very good - Bears scored 31 runs in 5 games. Even in the long loss when they only scored 1 run, the Bears had 5 hits to just 4 strikeouts. The slap and run Bears will be a pest against any pitcher this year. Rood and Reed have set the table for the Bears. Kobie Pettis has been bringing them home. Bears also use their speed to score a bunch of runs without a RBI, out of the 31 runs scored, Bears only registered 23 RBIs.
  • Your new Cal Softball ace is transfer Zoe Conley. Standing a mere 5 foot tall (that’s what she is listed, so she’s probably shorter), Conley has stood out as the ace for the Bears. The transfer from Cal State Northridge pitched 22.1 innings with two complete game and a save (she finished another Cal win in a non-save situation). She went 2-1 while giving up 14 hits, 3 earned runs, and registered 19 strikeouts.
  • Other Cal pitchers need to step up - and this is the perfect weekend to do so, against lesser competitions.

Bears will face Illinois (4-1), Kent State (3-2), Central Florida (2-3), and San Diego (2-3) this weekend in Palm Springs. Bears should go 4-0, but obviously we need to play the games. These games are again not broadcasted, but fans can get live update by following the new Twitter handle of Cal Softball @CalSB.

Cal Women’s Water Polo hosts California Speedo Cup II

4th ranked Golden Bears (9-1) will play Santa Clara Broncos (should be another easy Cal victory) and an exhibition against the New York Athletic Club (this one could be interesting). Water Polo fans can also see the visiting No.1 Stanford Cardinal (who gave the Bears their lone loss two weeks ago) in action from Spieker.

The New York Athletic Club has “produced more Olympians than any other club in the country” and will feature 10 MPSF schools alum on that roster.

Last week, Cal freshman Emma Wright scored 7 goals against Cal State Northridge to earn her 2nd consecutive MPSF Newcomer of the Week award.

Cal Men’s Gymnastics - “Banners fly forever” as team celebrated the 1997 national champions; Cal Head Coach to step down at the end of the year

Cal Men’s Gymnastics hosted the 1997 national championship winning squad last week at the home quad meet. Let’s relive (or see for the first time) the dominance of the next to last NCAA championship won by Cal (the majority of the 1997 team squad are part of the 1998 team that repeated the NCAA team title).

In other news, Cal head coach and former 2004 Olympic silver medalist Brett McClure will step down at the end of the season. McClure will move on to the USA national team program that is transitioning. McClure will serve as the high performance director for USA Gymnastics.

Given the uncertainty surround the Cal program, I would not be surprised if assistant coach JT Okada will just take over the team as the new head coach.

Meanwhile, the Bears finished 3rd behind No.2 Stanford and No.7 Nebraska in the quad meet. The 8th ranked Golden Bears did finish ahead of No.14 Arizona State. Bears will compete at the Winter Cup Challenge in Vegas this weekend before traveling to Ann Arbor next weekend to face Michigan.

Cal Lacrosse drops season opener

Golden Bears drop their season opener last Friday night 15-5 to the visiting Denver Pioneers. Cal sophmore Jenny Wilkens made 13 saves but faced way too many shots again. Senior Caroline Schlegel scored two goals for the Bears. Freshman Noelani Murayama, last year’s points leader Jena Fritts, and last year’s goals leader Elizabeth Pellechi all added a goal apiece.

Bears will immediately play a conference match (still MPSF this year before it becomes Pac-12 with the addition of ASU next year) this week at Oregon on Sunday. The Bears’ match at the Ducks at 3 pm PT will be on the Pac-12 Networks. The Ducks, who have a brand new head coach in Katrina Dowd - only the 2nd head coach in that program history, have a 3 match winning streak against the Bears.

Cal Men’s Golf - essentially brand new lineup not doing as well as their predecessors

Given the full season nature of Golf, this may be the first time this school year that I have written about Cal Golf. The Cal Men are under new head coach Walter Chun, Cal alum who was promoted after the retirement of Steve Desimone.

In the fall, the Golden Bears placed 8th in the Gopher Invitational, 8th in the Maui Jim Collegiate, T8th in the Alister Mackenzie Invitational, and 15th at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational. In 2017, the Bears placed 6th in the Arizona Intercollegiate while currently 6th after two days at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate in Hawaii.

Top player for the Bears KK Limbhasut is taking this year off to concentrate on his academics - he want’s to get into Haas. Instead the Cal quintet for this weekend includes sophomore Collin Morikawa - a big part of the team last year, along with Tanner Hughes, Sean Yu, Walker Huddy, and Williams Aldred. Clayton Madey is playing as an individual.

The quintet that competed at the NCAA championships last year were Limbhasut, Morikawa, Shotaro Ban, Sebastian Crampton, and Jamie Cheatham. Ban was the lone senior. The Limbhasut article mentions that Crampton is also redshirting this year - because Cal Men’s Golf, the lone self sufficient non-revenue sports at Cal, really wants their athletes to graduate. I can’t find any info on if Cheatham has also opted to redshirt to give the Bears a very strong team in 2018.

Cal Women’s Golf finished T11 at the 1st Spring tournament

Again, it is kind of confusing to track collegiate golf with players occasionally playing with the team while also compete as amateur in other tournaments.

Last year’s lone qualifier to the NCAA championships, Marianne Li, remains one of the Bears’ mainstay in the starting quintet. Li actually had the worse outing in the recently completed (finished on Tuesday) tournament down in Palos Verdes, CA.

For the recently complete Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Bears also started Spanish freshman Maria Herraez, Peruvian senior Lucia Gutierrez, German sophomore Amina Wolf, and Norwegian junior Marthe Wold. Freshman Jiyoon Jang and junior Alice Jeong have also started for the Bears in the fall. As you can see, the Cal Golf team is very international.

Nov.1 | Hello 2016-2017 CWGolf team #thatviewtho #CalWGolf #GoBears #OffSeason

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This concludes the rather mediocre Women’s Golf coverage for this week.