It is fair to say now that the 2019 NCAA men’s swimming and diving team championship is Cal’s to lose. Bears nearly lost it when they were scrutinized for a potential DQ at the end of the 200y medley relay that closed night 3, but the officials eventually found no stroke violation. Instead of just an 9 point lead going into Saturday (since Texas’ point total would also go up with a Cal DQ), Bears will have a solid 43 point lead going into Saturday by retaining those 34 points from a relay runner-up finish.
On top of a brilliant Thursday when they won 3 NCAA titles (1 relay and 2 individual), Bears had an even better Friday perlim by qualifying more swimmers into the A-Finals (minimum 11 points) rather than having them win the B-Finals (9 points only) like on Thursday night. Withstanding another diving event where Texas had 2 A-Finalists, Golden Bears now have 4 NCAA titles and 4 2nd place finishes through 14 events:
200y Free Relay: Pawel Sendyk, Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jensen, Andrew Seliskar 1:14.46
200y IM: Andrew Seliskar, 1:38.14
50y Free: Ryan Hoffer, 18.63
200 Free: Andrew Seliskar, 1:30.14
The 43 point lead means that the Bears should not have to worry about being overtaken on Saturday by Texas because of Texas’ strong platform diving squad. All the Bears should have to do on Saturday is to beat Texas in the 6 swimming events.
Friday morning was going all Cal’s way with 3 Bears in the 400 IM A-Final and 2 in the 100 Fly A-Final, but host Texas would not go away and were gaining momentum with a strong 100 Back prelim swims. However, a reswim awarded to Cal sophomore Daniel Carr because the official forgot to take out his starting wedge. Carr definitely had a slower swim off the turn than usual because of that error. Still, Texas briefly thought that they got 2 A and 1 B finalists to Cal’s zero in the 100 Back. Carr’s great reswim made it 1/0 Cal vs. 2/0 Texas as Carr also knocked Texas’s previously 16th placed Katz to 17th place.
Check out Daniel Carr’s reswim below (in the 1:39 mark, Durden was so excited that he nearly slipped into the pool):
While some Texas fans may feel like that the Bears got a huge break by getting the reswim, we should not that Carr’s reswim probably sapped some of his energy; he was slower during the evening’s 100 Back A-Final (placed 7th) and it may also impacted him during the 200 medley relay where the Bears barely lost to Alabama for the NCAA title.
Friday Night Recaps:
Let’s hear from Coach Durden first.
Even though the Bears did not find the apex of the podium as much on Friday (Indiana won 3 events), they continue to swim well as a team and grow that precious team point lead over Texas.
Senior Mike Thomas and sophomore Sean Greishop gave their best in chasing down Stanford’s Abram DeVine, last year’s winner in this event over Andrew Seliskar. If the freestyle at the end was 25y longer, Greishop probably would have won. Nonetheless, Bears finished a very strong 2nd (Greishop), 3rd (Thomas), and 5th (Julian) to score major points in this event.
Texas scored 0 points here.
Ryan Hoffer had the lead in the first 50y but faded at the end. Bears pick up a 5th (Quah) and 7th (Hoffer) place finishes in the A-Final. Pawel Sendyk drops a place from the prelim seed by placing 10th (2nd in the B-Final).
Texas again scored 0 points here.
Indiana’s Vini Lanza took the victory.
This was a strong event by Texas, but Seliskar’s 2nd NCAA event win of this meet and his career made that blow less. Seliskar won the much anticipated race over Texas’s Olympian Haas (who faded late to a 4th place finish) for the precious 20 points.
Texas took 3rd (Drew Kibler), 4th (Townley Haas), 7th (Jeff Newkirk), and 12th (Jake Sannem).
Cal freshman Reece Whitley finished 4th overall as Indiana’s Ian Finnerty took the win (Indiana has been Breaststroke U as of late - although Cal alum Josh Prenot and Whitley in the future should have the Golden Bears covered in International scene representation of this stroke).
Texas has a 11th place finisher in Charlie Scheinfeld. Yada yada yada.
After the reswim, Daniel Carr was slower in the A-Final and faded to a 7th place finish.
Harvard’s Dean Farris took the win after making the decision to switch to this event from 200 Free, where he would have been a favorite alongside Seliskar had he entered. Farris may give Cal alum Ryan Murphy some competition in the US National Trials next year (actually there is enough room for both of them...the big fish will be the 2020 Tokyo games).
Texas picked up points from Shebat (4th) and Harty (5th).
Cal’s Connor Callahan finished 36th in this event to be kept off the scoring position.
Indiana’s Andrew Capobianco got the convincing victory.
Texas finished 3rd (junior Grayson Campbell) and 7th (sophomore Jordan Windle).
200y Medley Relay:
Ryan Hoffer nearly gave the Bears the victory as the sprint anchor but Alabama edges the Cal quartet of Carr (back), Whitley (breast), Sendyk (free), and Hoffer (free) out 1:22.26 to 1:22.43.
Most importantly, Cal did not DQ (that would have been tragic) and finished two spots ahead of Texas (thanks to NC State placing 3rd).
Team Standings after Friday (14 of 21 events complete):
1. California 372
2. Texas 329
3. Indiana 277.5
4. NC State 215
5. Louisville 149
6. Florida 136
7. Alabama 110
8. Harvard 98
9. Missouri 88
10. Tennessee 82
11. Virginia 78
12. Southern Cali 75
13. Arizona 72
14. Texas A&M 71
15. Stanford 69
16. Florida St 66
17. Michigan 62
18. Ohio St 56
19. Georgia 46
20. Minnesota 45
Thursday’s interviews -
Andrew Seliskar after winning the 200 IM,
Ryan Hoffer after winning the 50 Free,
Saturday’s Forecast (before the prelim):
Having the team lead going into the final day doesn’t mean everything (case in point is Cal women’s lead last week going into Saturday), but the heat sheet predicts another strong day for the California Golden Bears.
Things are looking great for the Bears to match (if not beat) Texas in the 6 swimming events. The existing lead should more than cover the Texas’s edge in platform diving.
Cal senior Nick Norman is the 6th overall seed with sophomore Sean Grieshop a decent bet to drop significant time and score.
Texas is in similar situation with two guys - one is more likely to score (Yeager) and another guy (Zettle).
Golden Bears should have the edge in outscoring Texas in this event.
Mefford and Carr are 5th and 7th in seed for this event (200y back is stronger event for them than the 100y back). Texas should have 2-3 guys in the mix with Shabet, Hardy, and Katz (who was knocked out of the 16th spot of the 100 back after the Carr reswim).
It’s probably a wash, points-wise between Cal and Texas.
Hoffer and Sendyk are threat to duplicate their 1-2 finish in 50 Free. Jensen is also in the mix. Texas should also be well represented with Tate Jackson, Haas, Kibler being potential point scorers. To be fair, IF Texas make any big move on Saturday, this would be the event that they do it in.
I have faith in my Golden Bears thanks to what they did in 50y Free on Thursday night. Texas’ freestylists also haven’t swam as well this weekend judging from their relay splits.
Cal should have at least two A-Finalists in Seliskar (top seed) and Whitley. Arvidsson is actually the 9th seed (3 A-Finalist here may effectively clinch the team title) in this event, and Carson Sand may also earn a B-spot. Texas really only has one guy, Scheinfeld, who made the B-Final in 100 Breast on Friday.
Singapore Olympian Quah is the 2nd seed in this event. Thomas and Julian should also score points. Texas may get 1-2 guys in scoring position but this should be another event in Cal’s favor.
Bears will have two guys in this event in Connor Callahan and Johnny Robinson, but either of them making the consolation final and picking up points will be a very pleasant surprise. Texas should have 2 A-Finalists for the 3rd straight diving event. They are scoring those 80-90 diving points yet again which used to be enough to give them the team championship title over the Golden Bears, but probably won’t be enough this year.
400y Free Relay:
Both Cal and Texas should be in the A-Final. It would certainly be sweet for the Bears to have clinched a win before this event (great than 40 point lead) or basically clinched a win barring a DQ (if the point difference is greater than 18 points assuming that both schools are in the A-Final relay).
Bears should have the edge over Texas given the stronger 100y free performance anticipated.
How to watch:
Prelims in the morning are streamed by UT Texas online starting at 8am PT while ESPN3 has the live coverage of the evening sessions online at 4 pm PT.
ESPNU will have a recut version of the entire championships on regular TV at a future date of April 8th at 6pm PT.
Meet results can also be found here.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!