No. 1 Cal Competes at NCAA Championships

March 22, 2005

BERKELEY, Calif. -

THIS WEEK:Thur.-Sat., March 24-26, at the 2005 NCAA Championshipsat the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn.

Top-ranked California (9-0, 4-0 Pac-10) brings a contingent of 18 Golden Bears - 17 swimmers and one diver - to the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center to try to win the third NCAA Championship title under head coach Nort Thornton. Coming off an undefeated dual-meet season and a second-place finish to archrival Stanford at the Pac-10 Championships, Cal is primed for a top five finish at the national meet.

Senior Duje Draganja, the top sprinter in the nation, is one of seven 2004 Athens Olympians who will compete for Cal in Minneapolis.

ESPN2 is scheduled to broadcast the 2005 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships on a tape-delay basis at 1:30 p.m. ET on April 1.

The toughest competition to win the team title figures to come from Stanford, defending champion Auburn and Florida. In the final dual-meet rankings by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), Auburn finished second, Stanford was third and Florida ranked fourth behind No. 1 Cal. This season, California has faced just one of those three schools, beating Stanford, 129-114, in a dual meet on Feb. 19 in Berkeley. But the Cardinal, with 932.5 points, beat out the runner-up Golden Bears (882) for the Pac-10 Conference crown in early March.

Cal and Stanford also met this season in a non-scoring Triple Distance Meet on Nov. 10 at Stanford. The Bears won four out of six categories (sprint freestyle, distance freestyle, individual medley and breaststroke) and split the two relays with the Cardinal.

The Pac-10 Conference is well represented in Minneapolis, which will also host athletes from No. 8-ranked Arizona and No. 9-ranked USC. Cal beat Arizona, 136-97, and USC, 161-136, head-to-head this season.

The following Bears qualified to compete in Minneapolis:

Henrique Barbosa
The 2004 Brazilian Olympian combines with Caleb Rowe to give Cal a strong presence in the breaststroke. Barbosa, a 6-4 junior, enters the NCAA Championships qualified for two events: the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke. He currently holds the fifth-best time in the 200 breaststroke (1:56.34) and the seventh-best time in the 100 breaststroke (53.58). He swam that 100 breaststroke time when he finished third behind second-place Rowe at the 2005 Pac-10 Championships. At last year's NCAA Championships, swum in meters, Barbosa earned All-America honors by taking fourth (59.45) in the 100 and ninth (2:10.65) in the 200 breaststrokes. He was sixth in the 100 (55.24) and seventh in the 200 (2:01.14) as a freshman at the 2003 NCAAs, which were swum in yards.

Milorad Cavic
A 2004 Olympian for Serbia and Montenegro, the junior is qualified for three events: the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. He enters NCAAs with the fourth-best time in the 100 back (46.50), seventh-best time in the 50 free (19.46) and 42nd best-time in the 100 fly (48.26). Last year at NCAAs, where he earned All-America honors as a sophomore, the 6-6 Cavic swam second on the record-setting 400 free relay (2:48.99), finished second in the 100 fly (50.81), swam the second leg of the runner-up 400 free relay (3:10.68), and swam the fly legs of the third-place 200 (1:35.02) and fourth-place 400 (3:30.82) medley relays. Cavic won the Pac-10 100 fly title as a freshman and a sophomore.

John Dorr
The 6-1 senior from Lafayette, Calif., set an automatic NCAA qualifying time in the 200 IM (1:45.32) by taking second in the 200 IM at the Pac-10 Championships. Dorr's time is the sixth-best in the country. He is also qualified for the 400 IM (3:50.00) with the country's 23rd-fastest time. At last year's NCAAs, he finished ninth in the 200 IM (1:57.80) and was part of Cal's 14th-place 800 free relay (7:16.90) to earn honorable mention All-America honors.

Duje Draganja
The 6-6 senior from Croatia is the top sprinter in the nation. Draganja, a 2004 Olympic silver medallist in the 50-meter freestyle, enters the NCAA Championships with the top times in the nation in the 50 freestyle (19.22), 100 freestyle (42.14) and 100 butterfly (45.63). Last year, as an All-American junior, he took second in the 100 free (46.64) and third in the 100 fly (51.56) at NCAAs. As a sophomore, Draganja won the 100 free (42.02) title and led off Cal's winning 400 free relay (2:48.99). He also led off Cal's winning 400 free relay (2:50.01) as a freshman.

Mark Eckert
The 6-2 freshman from the Iolani School in Honolulu qualified to compete in the 200 backstroke (1:44.46, nation's 14th-fastest time) and the 200 IM (1:48.44, 31st) at NCAAs. Eckert swam his 200 backstroke qualifying time at Pac-10s, where he took second place.

John Foster
One of six freshmen competing at NCAAs for Cal, Foster is qualified in three events: the 200 free (1:36.75, nation's 30th-fastest time), 500 free (4:19.77, 15th) and 1650 free (15:27.76, 36th). The 6-5 product of Villa Park, Calif., swam his 200 qualifying time when he took fifth place at Pac-10 prelims. He finished sixth (4:21.69) in the final.

Louie Gagnet
Cal's only diver at the NCAA Championships, the senior is qualified to compete in the one- and three-meter springboards. He took third (625.35 points) on the one-meter board and fourth (539.50) on the three-meter board earlier this month at the NCAA Zone E Regional in Oklahoma City, Okla. At last year's NCAAs, the honorable mention All-American took 12th in the platform dive with 465.55 points, 13th in the 3-meter dive (517.65) and 25th in the 1-meter dive (266.10). Gagnet, who competed at the 2003 NCAA Championships for Florida State, took ninth on the three-meter board (531.8) to become the first Seminole diver to earn All-America honors since 1992.

Rolandas Gimbutis
The 6-10 product of Kaunas, Lithuania, is one of seven Bears at NCAAs who competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He qualified for three events at NCAAs: the 50 free (19.39, nation's 5th best time), 100 free (42.54, 2nd best) and 200 free (1:35.91, 18th best). Gimbutis combines with Duje Draganja, Milorad Cavic, Jonas Tilly and others to make Cal arguably the top sprinting team in the country. He swam his 50 free qualifying time in the Pac-10 Championships prelim and eventually took fifth place in the final. Gimbutis swam his 100 time by taking second to Draganja in the final and swam his 200 time with a second-place finish in the Pac-10 prelims. He earned All-America honors last year as a freshman.

Jernej Godec
A 2004 Olympian, Godec is qualified to compete in three events at NCAAs: the 100 butterfly (46.94, nation's 10th-best time), 100 backstroke (48.19, 22nd) and 100 free (44.26, 40th). The 6-2 freshman from Ljubljana, Slovenia, anchored his country's 4x100 medley relay in Athens.

Michael Jafari
Jafari combined with John Foster and Dominik Meichtry to help give Cal a stronger presence in the distance events this season. The 5-11 freshman from Glendora, Calif., is qualified to swim two events at NCAAs: the 50 free (4:27.07, nation's 50th-best time) and 1650 free (15:14.12, 22nd).

Evan Lane
The 6-5 junior from Visalia, Calif., is qualified to compete in two events - the 50 free (19.96, nation's 29th-fastest time) and 100 free (43.88, 26th) - at the NCAA Championships. Lane was sidelined after elbow surgery last season and redshirted the 2001-02 season.

Dominik Meichtry
The Swiss freshman from Rorschacherberg has qualified for three events at NCAAs: the 200 free (1:34.69, nation's 6th-best time), 500 free (4:21.98, 30th best) and 1650 free (15:19.65, 33rd best). Meichtry earned his 200 qualifying time with a second-place finish at Pac-10s. The 6-0 Meichtry has paid big dividends since joining the Cal late in the season. A 2004 Athens Olympian, Meichtry made his Bears debut in his specialty, the 200 free, at the Jan. 21 win at Arizona in Tucson. He won his first race, also the 200 free, for Cal the next day in a dual-meet win at Arizona State. Meichtry helped Cal beat Stanford for the first time in almost 14 years with a second-place finish in the 500 free (4:23.59) and third-place finish in the 200 (1:35.88) in their dual-meet clash last month.

Miguel Molina
A 2004 Olympian, Molina is qualified for three races at NCAAs: the 200 IM (1:45.61, 10th-fastest time), 400 IM (3:49.99, 22nd) and 200 breaststroke (1:57.97, 17th). The Cal junior, who was born in the Philippines but calls Tokyo, Japan, home, came on strong in the second half of this season, winning the 200 breaststroke (2:00.76) and 200 free (1:39.08) in Cal's dual-meet win over Michigan on Jan. 8. He also took second (1:46.49) against Stanford on Feb. 19 and fifth (1:45.61) at Pac-10s in the 200 IM and was fifth (3:49.99) in the 400 IM at Pac-10s.

Patrick O'Neil
The sophomore from Roseburg, Ore., has come on strong late in the season. He helped Cal win its dual meet with Stanford by setting a new PR and Spieker Aquatics Complex pool record in the 200 butterfly (1:44.22). O'Neil bettered that time in the Pac-10 Championships preliminaries, which he won in 1:44.00, the nation's fifth-fastest time in the event. He finished third (1:44.51) in the 200 fly final. Besides the 200, O'Neil is also qualified for the 100 fly (47.59, nation's 24th-best time) at NCAAs.

Caleb Rowe
Rowe, fellow senior Draganja and sophomore Rolandas Gimbutis are the only Cal swimmers who bring top-five qualifying times in more than one event to NCAAs. A product of Wailuku, Hawaii, Rowe is qualified for the 200 breaststroke with the nation's third-fastest time (1:55.86), for the 100 breaststroke with the nation's fifth-fastest time (53:31) and for the 200 IM (1:47.61) with the nation's 28th-best time. As a junior at least year's national meet, he took eighth in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:10.53) and swam on Cal's fourth-place 400-meter medley relay (3:30.82).

Jonas Tilly
Another of Cal's top sprinters, the 6-3 sophomore from Trelleborg, Sweden, is qualified for three individual events: the 50 free (19.55, nation's 11th-fastest time), 100 free (43.29, 12th) and 100 butterfly (47.73, 29th). Tilly is also a key member of the Cal relays. He swam third on the 200 free relay (1:16.77) that won Pac-10s with the fastest time in the country. An All-American as a freshman, he anchored Cal's second-place (3:10.68) 400-meter free relay and swam third on the 14th-place (7:16.90) 800 free relay.

Louis Vayo
One of the most versatile Bears, Vayo is qualified to compete at three events at NCAAs: the 400 IM (3:48.54, nation's 14th-fastest time), 200 backstroke (1:45.20, 25th) and 500 free (4:23.71, 35th). The 6-0 freshman from Placentia, Calif., competed in four events at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Garrett Wagner
The 5-11 freshman from Loomis, Calif., is qualified to swim the 100 free (44.78, nation's 57th-best time) and 200 free (1:36.81, 33rd) at NCAAs. Wagner finished 38th (1:52.73) in the 200-meter free at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Cal has also qualified for the following relays:

200 Freestyle Relay: Cal (Draganja, Cavic, Tilly and Gimbutis) won the Pac-10 title in 1:16.77, which is the top time in the country entering the NCAA Championships.

400 Medley Relay: Cal swam the third best time (3:08.11) in the country as the runner-up at Pac-10s.

200 Medley Relay: Cal has the third best time (1:25.87) in the country, which Draganja, Rowe, Cavic and Tilly set with their second-place finish at Pac-10s.

800 Freestyle Relay: Cal has the ninth best time (6:24.16) in the country.

400 Freestyle Relay: Cal won Pac-10s and qualified for NCAAs with the best time (2:49.77) in the country.

At last season's NCAA Championships, California finished seventh with 255.5 points. On the final day of competition, junior Duje Draganja finished second in the 100-meter freestyle (46.64) to Texas' Ian Crocker, who broke the world record in the event (46.25). Draganja also surpassed the old world record of 46.74 set by Russia's Alexander Popov. Freshman Rolandas Gimbutis finished tops in the consolation final of the event, ninth at 48.26.

In another case of being second only to the best in the world, Draganja, Milorad Cavic, Gimbutis and Jonas Tilly took second place (3:10.68) in the 400-meter freestyle relay as Auburn set a new world record in the event (3:08.85). The Golden Bears did, however, set a new school record in the event as both Auburn and Cal surpassed the old NCAA record set by Cal in 2000 at 3:11.25.

Junior Caleb Rowe finished eighth (2:10.53) in the 200-meter breaststroke. Teammate Henrique Barbosa came in ninth, best in the consolation final with a time of 2:10.65.

Freshman Daniel Lysaught finished 23rd in the 1500-meter freestyle contest, 15:22.51. Lysaught, a native of Australia, was Cal's first distance swimmer to make the NCAA Championships this millennium.

No. 1 California placed second on March 5 at the 2005 Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships with 882 points, easily ahead of third-place USC (579), at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach. Stanford claimed the conference crown with 932.5 points.

On the final day, senior Duje Draganja led Cal by claiming the 100 freestyle in a time of 42.30 on the heels of also winning the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly earlier in the week. Cal sophomore Rolandas Gimbutis was the runner-up in the 100 free in 42.54. Draganja, Gimbutis and Jonas Tilly (43.29) all swam NCAA qualifying marks tonight.

Cal set a Pac-10 meet record in winning the 400 freestyle, clocking in at 2:49.77 to break the previous meet record of 2:49.85 set in 2000 by the Bears. In 2005, Cal led off with Gimbutis, followed by Tilly, Draganja and Milorad Cavic.

The 200 breaststroke was also a strong event for the Bears with senior Caleb Rowe leading the way in second with a time of 1:55.86, and junior Henrique Barbosa placing third in 1:56.34. Both athletes posted NCAA qualifying times. Cal junior Miguel Molina took fourth in 1:57.97.Freshman Mark Eckert finished second in the 200 backstroke in an NCAA consideration time of 1:44.46 to earn 17 points for the Bears. Freshman Louis Vayo placed sixth in 1:45.20 (NCAA consideration), and junior Chris Gibson took eighth in 146:64 (NCAA consideration) in the final of the event.

Now on Pac-12 Network
3:30 PM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network