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Cal Bears at the 2019 World University Games recap - 11 Bears for 5 countries won 5 medals

Several Golden Bears earned some hardwares, in addition to a summer in Italy, in this annual competition

2019 30th Summer Universiade Competition Day Jul 7th
Cal sophomore Alicia Wilson won the 200m IM.
photo by Alessandro Garofalo/Action Plus via Getty Images

It’s not the Olympic Games (just wait until next year to see if Cal Athletics will continue to break its own record for Olympic Games success at 2020 Tokyo), but several Cal Bears got an Olympic-esque experience this past couple of weeks (July 3rd-14th) at the annual (30th Summer) World University Games (wikipedia calls it “Universiade”) from Naples, Italy.

For sports like swimming and water polo, qualification for the World University Games was one step below making the FINA Aquatic World Championships (not to mention the restriction of this event for University students). Nonetheless, Cal Golden Bears are fairly well represented at this tournament. Below is a summary of how the Golden Bears fared.


Recently graduated Nick Norman (USA) led the way with 2 medals - Bronze in 1500m and Silver in 800m.

Rising junior Trenton Julian (USA) won a Gold as a part of the 4x200m Free Relay.

Rising junior Sean Grieshop (USA) took Silver in 400 IM.

Other Cal Bears at this meet includes Pawel Sendyk (4th in 50m Free for Poland), Connor Hoppe (4th in 50m Breast), Bryce Mefford (5th in 100m Back)

The Cal women’s contingent at this meet was smaller, but the lone Golden Bear did make a big impact.

Rising sophomore Alicia Wilson (Great Britain) bested Stanford’s Ella Eastin for the Gold in 200 IM.

Track and Field

Pac-12 champ and rising senior Tuomas Kaukolahti, representing his native Finland, took 7th in the triple jump.

Water Polo

For Water Polo, the more higher profile Cal Bears (mostly alumni) are playing in the FINA World Championships - I will probably do a recap of those championships in the coming week.

Nonetheless, rising sophomore Marko Valecic is a part of the Croatian squad that finished 7th in this tournament. After success in group play, Croatia suffered a pair of heartbreaking 1-goal losses in knockout play to USA (10-9) and then Japan (17-16) before beating Australia (12-4) for 7th place.

On the women’s side, Madison Tagg as the starting keeper and Claire Sonne are a big part of Team USA for the World University Games. USA also lost some close knockout matches (12-11 to Canada, then 10-9 to Japan, and finally 10-9 to China) to finish 8th in this tournament

Congrats to all the Golden Bears who got to spend some part of their summer in Italy representing their country. I’m sure these kind of summer experiences will help their growth as student-athlete at Cal for the coming seasons.