Friday Night Recap
By qualifying the most swimmers for the evening session, Golden Bears did great work in the Friday morning prelim session. Unfortunately, contenders Texas and Indiana started to make up the ground with the 3-meter diving in the afternoon. Indiana and Texas qualified 3 and 2 divers, respectively, for the evening’s A-Final.
While Cal’s junior Andrew Seliskar was considered a contender (he had the top prelim time), he finished 3rd behind Stanford’s Abraham DeVine and Arizona’s Nick Thorne - two guys that Seliskar beat to win the Pac-12 title in this event three weeks ago. Mike Thomas took 2nd in the B-Final. Seliskar has made the A-Final in every event that he has competed in NCAA but has yet to win one. The hope is that he ends that streak by winning the 200 Breast on Saturday night.
Bears qualified 3 into the 100 Fly A-Final, but they finished 6th, 7th, and 8th. Nevertheless, freshman Ryan Hoffer had a huge drop in time to jump from a seed of 40-something to the top 8. Quah finished 4th in the B-Final. Florida goes 1-2 in this event with Caeleb Dressel break the 43 second barrier by going 42.80.
In 200 Free, freshman Bryce Mefford surprised in the morning in making the A-Final but could not improve on the 8th place finish there. Texas’s Townley Haas won for the 3rd straight year and recapture the record that Indiana’s Pieroni took when swimming the leadoff leg of the 800 Free relay on Wednesday.
Connor Hoppe achieve a career best by placing 2nd in the 100 Breast. Carson Sand took 2nd in the B-Final for a much needed (but thus far rare) improvement in the evening session. The winner was an Indiana Hoosier, Ian Finnerty, who set a new NCAA/American record by going below 50 seconds (49.69).
Freshman Daniel Carr did his best to win the 100 Back B-Final but faded in the end to take 3rd. NC State’s Coleman Stewart was the winner.
At this point, the Golden Bears had a slim lead on the field, but then the 3-meter diving points kick in. Although they all did not really contend, the 3 Hoosiers accounted for 40 points while the 2 Longhorns got 26 points. Both Indiana and Texas pulled ahead of the Bears.
In the evening closing 200 Medley Relay, Golden Bears battled USC Trojans for the title. USC managed to out-touch the Bears for the win (and an extra 6 points). Cal’s Carr, Hoppe, Lynch, and Hoffer did set a new American record in the process (breaking the record of Golden Bears from 3 years ago).
Going into the final day, here are the team standings of the 3 contenders:
Indiana at 325, Texas at 306, Bears at 291.5.
Bears close Day 3 with a 2nd place finish in the 200 medley relay. @calmenswim (291.5) is within striking distance of Indiana (325) and Texas (306) going to the final day. have the most points from swimming but diving also counts. #GoBears #RollOnYouBears— GoldenBlogs (@GoldenBlogs) March 24, 2018
Any of the three can win on Saturday. Golden Bears would need to see what happened in 50 Free/100 Fly happen again for 100 Free and qualify 2-3 Bears in that A-Final. Bears could also use a couple of wins like Seliskar in 200 Breast and Quah in 200 Fly. Following the psych sheet, Cal can also have up to two 1650 Free top 8 finisher in Nick Norman and Sean Grieshop. It will be an exciting Saturday
As I had anticipated in my preview, the 2018 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships will not be another dominant Texas Longhorn runaway (they have three-peated over the 2nd place Cal Bears). Instead, this meet is shaping up to be a tight one between NC State, Indiana, Florida, Texas, and your California Golden Bears.
While traditionally, Cal and Texas are the most reliable ones at dropping time at the national championships, NC State, Indiana, and Florida have figured out that trick this year thus far. Florida is emotionally carried by their senior in Caeleb Dressel who has already made history by swimming (twice, no less) sub 18 seconds in the 50 Free, breaking his own record.
By Friday night, the Bears are in a close 5th place. Here is the top 5 in the team standings through 7 events.
1. Indiana 169
2. NC State 165
3. Texas 159
4. Florida 154
5. California 152.5
While Golden Bears have yet to win (or seriously contend) for a NCAA title in any event so far, Bears qualified a lot of guys into the two scoring finals on Thursday night. That strategy continues on Friday morning when the Bears got some big swims from their talented freshmen group.
For tonight’s 400 IM, junior Andrew Seliskar grabbed the top seed. Junior Mike Thomas made the B-Final, unfortunately pushing freshman Sean Greishop to 17th place (the first person out of scoring position).
In 100 Fly, freshman Ryan Hoffer made the huge jump (seeded 41st coming in) to make the A-Final along side a pair of seniors in Justin Lynch and Matt Josa. Sophomore Zheng Quah will race in the B-Final for the Bears. Florida’s Caeleb Dressel is the favorite in this one since Texas’ Joseph Schooling, who did make the A-Final, is not having a great meet thus far.
For 200 Free, freshman Bryce Mefford jumped from 31st in the seed to 8th in the prelim to make the A-Final. Texas’ Townley Haas has the top prelim time.
In 100 Breast, senior Connor Hoppe has the 2nd best prelim time this morning. Carson Sand made the B-Final to give the Bears another scorer. Indiana’s Ian Finnerty set a pool record by grabbing the top prelim time.
For 100 Back, freshman Daniel Carr improved slightly from his 19th seed time to make the B-Final. This ensures that there will be scoring for the Golden Bears from every swimming events thus far. USC freshman Robert Glinta has the top prelim swim.
In the 200 Medley relay, Cal’s quartet of Daniel Carr, Connor Hoppe, Justin Lynch, and Pavel Sendyk swam a time of 1:23.20 which is good for 2nd best in the morning (behind USC in a different heat). Also in the A-Final for tonight are Florida (3rd) - thanks to another insane swim by Dressel in the anchor to overtake 4-5 teams, Indiana (4th), Texas (5th), and NC State (7th). All the contenders will be in the A-Final, where the order of finishes in this one relay could be enough to change the order in the end of Night 3 standings.
Looking at the competitions, Cal is in a great shape after the morning session. Just considering the individual events, Golden Bears have 6 A-Finalists and 4 B-Finalists. Texas has 5 A-Finalists and 2 B-Finalists (not including the 3-meter diving). Indiana has 5 A-Finalists as well with 1 B-Finalist (also not counting diving). Florida has 3 A-Finalist and 1 B-Finalist. NC State has 3 A-Finalists and 2 B-Finalists. All 5 schools will race in the A-Final of the 200 Medley Relay.
Bears had a great morning in placing a lot of guys in scoring positions, but failed to capitalize on it.
Despite being the top seed after the prelim, junior Andrew Seliskar finished 5th in the 400 IM and still is waiting for his first NCAA individual title. Bears also did not really threaten in the 400 medley relay in finishing 4th.
Again, if you look at the times, Bears are improving quite a bit between the Pac-12 and this week, but the problem is that other teams are also doing this (and doing it a little bit more). Nonetheless, the strength of this year’s squad is the depth and how all 17 swimmers on the roster can potentially score. It should be a fun next couple of days of great racing (and hopefully some Cal victories).
Looking ahead to Saturday
Here are the Cal Bears racers for Saturday (with their psych sheet rankings).
1,650 Freestyle - Nick Norman (6), Sean Grieshop (10)
200 Backstroke - Daniel Carr (19), Bryce Mefford (21)
100 Freestyle - Justin Lynch (13), Ryan Hoffer (15), Michael Jensen (21), Pawel Sendyk (34), Kyle Coan (55)
200 Breaststroke - Andrew Seliskar (2), Matt Whittle (20), Carson Sand (31), Connor Hoppe (32)
200 Butterfly - Zheng Quah (2), Mike Thomas (10), Matt Josa (14), Trenton Julian (21)
Schedule of Events and How to Watch
Live Stats: SWMEETS
Live Diving Stats: DIVEMEETS
Friday, March 23 finals, 4pm PT: ESPN3
400 Individual Medley
3 Meter Diving
200 Medley Relay
Saturday, March 24 prelims, 8am PT: https://www.btn2go.com/game/ncaa-championships-at-minnesota-4
Platform Diving - Trials
Platform Diving - Consolation Finals
1,650 Freestyle (1:45 p.m.)
Saturday, March 24 finals, 4pm PT: ESPN3
400 Freestyle Relay
It’s time for the Golden Bears to add to that super long list of Individual and Relay National Champions and the hope is that this will lead to the big prize - the 6th NCAA team title in program history by Saturday night.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!