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Golden Medals: Fast starts by Cal M. Swim in bid of Pac-12 champ repeat; 3 Bears at NCAA Indoor Track & Field

No Hugo Gonzalez for Cal M. Swim for the 2019 NCAA championships. Cal Lacrosse opens Pac-12 play after earning 3 straight wins.

Golden Bears won the Pac-12 championship opening 200 medley relay
Pac-12 Conference Twitter

With several sports in full swing, there are a lot of action on and off campus this weekend.

Cal Men’s Swimming on pace to repeat at the Pac-12 Championships

Cal Men’s Swimming (and Diving) dominated the 2018 Pac-12 Championships en route to the program’s 5th conference title (which is not that many because the conference format doesn’t really help a team like Cal in many years over a team with mediocre depth like Stanford). The top ranked (in dual swimming format) Bears are poised to repeat as conference champs.

After diving (competed last week, where ASU and Stanford got the big lead from the 3 events - Cal’s Connor Callahan did finish 3rd in 1-meter and 7th in 3-meter, with Jackson Gabler 8th in platform) and the first two relays, Golden Bears are again looking great in the final tune-up ahead of the NCAA championships at the end of March from Austin, Texas.

Bears opened the swimming portion of the championships on Wednesday night with a pair of relay victories. Bears finished on top in the 200 Medley with a time of 1:23.44 ahead of USC and ASU. The quartet of sophomore Daniel Carr (back), freshman Reece Whitley (breast), junior Pawel Sendyk (fly), and sophomore Ryan Hoffer (free) got the job done. Whitley and Hoffer, coincidentally, were the top two overall ranked recruits in the country for the past two years. Yes, the future for Cal Men’s Swimming is very bright.

A more mature group of 4 Bears shattered the conference record in the 800 Free relay. The quartet of junior Zheng Quah (Singapore Olympian), senior Andrew Seliksar (future US Olympian?), sophomore Trenton Julian, and senior Mike Thomas posted a time of 6:10.54, besting the previous Pac-12 championship record also held by Cal Bears in 2017 (Long Gutierrez, Seliskar, Michael Jansen, Ryan Murphy).

For Thursday, Bears got 3 in the 500 Free A-Final (Trenton Julian, Sean Grieshop, and Nick Norman), 3 in the 200 IM A-Final (Mike Thomas, Andrew Seliskar, and Daniel Carr), and 4 in the 50 Free A-Final (Pawel Sendyk, Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jansen, Nate Biondi). 200 Free relay, where Cal is the heavy favorite, is the other event of Day 2.

Bears end up taking 3 of the 4 events on Thursday night, and nearly swept the top of the podium yet again. Trenton Julian and Sean Greishop finished 2nd and 3rd behind USC’s Victor Johansson in the 500 Free.

Andrew Seliskar repeated as the 200 IM winner.

Pawel Sendyk bested teammates Ryan Hoffer and Michael Jansen to win the 50 Free.

Bears won their 3rd relay of the meet by dominating the 200 Free relay.

The team standings after 9 events (3 diving and 6 swimming with 5 won by Cal):

  1. California – 342
  2. Stanford – 308
  3. Arizona State – 248
  4. Arizona – 223
  5. USC – 176
  6. Utah - 169


No Hugo Gonzalez until the fall for Cal Men’s Swimming

I have been hoping for a last minute NCAA allowance for Hugo Gonzalez to compete for the Bears in 2019, but that’s not to be. Although he did not attend any class at Virginia Tech, Hugo Gonzalez apparently was registered before changing his mind. As the result, the NCAA ruled that the 2016 Spanish Olympian can not suit up for the Bears until the fall.

I think Cal Men’s Swimming and Diving’s chance to dethrone Texas at the end of March has just gone down from 60% to 30% without the at least 20+ points that one can reasonably count on from Hugo Gonzalez in the IM events; Hugo could have also helped on the relays. Golden Bears are certainly still capable of an upset win if Texas struggles to drop time for the national championship, but that Texas diving advantage will make the Longhorns the favorites yet again, which is disappointing.

Check back on Sunday for the full recap of the 2019 Pac-12 Championships.

3 Cal Bears at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend

Redshirt sophomore McKay Johnson in shot put, junior Tuomas Kaukolathi in the triple jump, and redshirt junior Tyler Brendel in heptathlon will represent the Golden Bears at the NCAA Indoor Championships from Birmingham, Alabama this weekend. Both Johnson and Kaukolathi were also participant in the 2018 NCAA Indoor championships. All the action will be available on ESPN3.

McKay Johnson has the 5th best throw this season with a school record toss of 20.47m/67-2.00 at the MPSF championship most recently (only good for 2nd at that meet). He finished 8th at the NCAA Indoor championship last year.

Tuomas Kaukolathi has the 11th best triple jump this year, but will look to best his career best mark of 16.33m/53-7.00 set at last year’s NCAA Indoor championship when he finished 5th. Kaukolathi won the Pac-12 crown this year and the MPSF title.

Brendel will make his first NCAA Indoor Championship appearance after being limited by injury in 2018. He won the MPSF championship recently and grabbed the last (16th) qualifying spot for the NCAA.

Here is the schedule for the Cal athletes:

Schedule of Events

Friday, March 8:

60m (10:00 a.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

Long Jump (10:40 a.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

Shot Put (11:50 a.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

High Jump (1:00 p.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

Shot Put (5:20 p.m. PT)

Saturday, March 9:

60m Hurdles (9:45 a.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

Pole Vault (10:35 a.m. PT) [Heptathlon]

1000m (2:00 p.m. PT) (Heptathlon]

Triple Jump (3:00 p.m. PT)

Cal Lacrosse (3-4) opening Pac-12 play on Friday after 3 game winning streak

After another rough start of the year, including two not-that-close home losses follow by two agonizing close losses from neutral site, Cal Lacrosse has finally recaptured some mojo by winning 3 straight games - two from the recent DC/Maryland trip last weekend.

The wins come just in time for the Bears to open Pac-12 play against the visiting Oregon Ducks and Colorado Buffalos this weekend from Memorial Stadium. This is only the 2nd year that women’s lacrosse is a sponsored sports by the Pac-12 conference - each team will play every other conference foes in a home-and-home.

In the last 3 games, Cal beat UC Davis 16-13, then George Washington 15-8 from DC and Mount St. Mary’s 12-9 from Maryland.

Caroline Corzel with 4 goals with Kristen Swanson and Eliza Christmas with 3 goals each led the way agains UC Davis. Susie Ropp and Catherine Roxas scored 3 goals each to lead the goal scoring against GW. Swanson with 4 goals and Ropp with 3 goals were the top scorers against Mount St. Mary’s.

Heading into conference play (both games this weekend are streamed for free online), Bears have a balanced attack with 5 players with double digit goals - Swanson (15 goals, 5 assists), Ropp (13 goals, 4 assists), Corzel (11 goals, 4 assists), Marisa Kuberra (12 goals, 2 assists), and Christmas (11 goals, 3 assists). Cal also have an experienced goalkeeper in senior Jenny Wilkens behind a very young backline.

In non-conference play, Oregon is 2-3 with a recent loss to UC Davis. Colorado is 1-3 with 8-6 loss to the same Michigan team that beat the Bears 15-10. Both of these games are probably winnable for the Bears this weekend.

Cal Beach Volleyball (5-1) goes 2-1 in Pac-12 South Tournament

After a dominant opening home Saturday, the Bears passed their first real test of the season with style last weekend at the Pac-12 South Tournament.

Bears had an impressive day 1, beating both Washington and Arizona State.

Here is the day 1 recap from the Pac-12 Network:

Beach Volleyball fans should seek out replay of this tournament from last weekend as the Bears looked quite dominant against the weaker teams of the Pac.

Unfortunately, the Bears got swept in all 5 matches against the top ranked UCLA Bruins despite putting up some tough fight.

Here is the day 2 recap from the Pac-12 Network:

Both UCLA and USC went 3-0 this weekend with both Cal and Stanford going 2-1. USC and UCLA are the only programs to have claimed the NCAA Beach Volleyball championships in its first 3 years of existence.

The rankings after this past weekend reflects the finish from the Pac-12 South Tournament. Bears remain ranked 11th in the country.

Bears hosted Utah on Thursday afternoon, cruising to another 4-1 win (although top pair for the Bears did lose in 3 sets). Head coach Meagan Owusu’s squad will travel south to The Farm on Saturday to face both UC Davis and Stanford before a trip to Hawaii next weekend for an invitational tournament.

12 Cal Women’s Swimmers qualified for the NCAA

As expected (since the qualifications are due to recorded times), 12 Cal Bears swimmers will race at the NCAA Championships in two weeks from Austin, Texas.

Here are the list of Bears that have qualified:

It’s a good group that have also swept all 5 relays from Pac-12 last weekend in addition to 4 individual titles (3 by junior Abbey Weitzeil, 1 by senior Amy Bilquist). Bears are sending 2 seniors, 3 juniors, 3 sophomores, and 4 freshman. In addition to Weitzeil and Bilquist, the other big scorers for the Bears will likely be Katie McLaughlin, Sarah Darcel, Isabel Ivey, Robin Neumann, and Keaton Blovad. Maddie Murphy and Ema Rajic will play important roles on the relays.

At the NCAA, the main competition for the Bears will likely be those Stanford Cardinal, seeking a 3-peat. 18 swimmers have qualified for Stanford, who will probably keep a swimmer or two home again to fit divers into their roster.

The diving qualifiers for the NCAA have yet to be decided, Bears have had divers qualify in recent years but they could not score points. The maximum roster for the NCAA was 18 people last year with divers counting as 0.5 per spot - Stanford likely has to keep a qualified (for just one event) swimmer home for the 2nd straight year.

By the way, with the Pac-12 Hall of Honors now honoring Olympic sports alum for the 2nd straight year (it was just football and men’s basketball). Cal women’s swimming’s “Golden Girl” Natalie Coughlin is this year’s Cal honoree after Matt Biondi of Cal men’s swimming and men’s water polo was honored last year.

Congratulations to Natalie Coughlin on making the Pac-12 Hall of Honor. It’s a very fitting accolade to one of the best Golden Bears across all sports.