Cal pulls in front heading into final day of Pac-12 Championships
FEDERAL WAY, WASH. – An exciting ending to day three of the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming and Men’s and Women’s Diving Championship at Weyerhaeuser King Country Aquatic Center tipped the scales in CALIFORNIA’s favor after the Cardinal held the lead through the first two and a half days of competition. After starting the Friday evening finals session two-for-two on the individual events, it looked like STANFORD was poised to take a commanding lead into the last day of the 2014 championship. The Bears had other plans as Missy Franklin, Rachel Bootsma and company turned in their best day of the meet to pull ahead of the defending Pac-12 champions.
Day three swimming finals got underway with Cardinal senior Maya DiRado winning her second individual title of the event, this time in the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:10.03. USC senior and 2012 Olympian Stina Gardell touched the wall just shy of three seconds after DiRado to take second (4:04.27) while Cal freshman Celina Li earned a spot on the podium for the second time this week in her debut at the Pac-12 Championships with a third-place finish (4:07.68).
Another Cardinal senior standout Felicia Lee followed suit with her teammate in final number two of the night—the 100-yard butterfly—earning a first-place finish after posting a time of 51.26. The second and third medal finishing teams were identical to the first final as USC sophomore Kendyl Stewart hit the wall at 51.36, followed closely by the Bears’ sophomore phenom Rachel Bootsma at 52.06.
With the Cardinal threatening to run away with the night, Cal freshman and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin quickly ended the mini-winning streak with her second individual title in just her first collegiate Conference championships. Franklin—who has placed first in every event she’s competed in this week— and her time of 1:42.29 broke a Pac-12 meet record set back in 2009 by former Bear Dana Vollmer. Fellow freshman and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Lia Neal recorded a second-place finish for the Cardinal, coming in just over a second after Franklin. USC freshman Chelsea Chenault earned her way to her first-career podium finish at 1:43.91, good for third.
Stanford fired right back, with junior Katie Olsen earning the individual championship in the 100-yard breastroke, posting a time of 59.44. USC senior Kasey Carlson, the winner of the 50-free on Thursday, took second, turning in a 59.44, followed by ARIZONA senior Eve Sarris in third-place with a 1:00.37.
From there it was all Bears as Bootsma and senior Cindy Tran took first and third in the 100-yard backstroke final, recording times of 51.19 and 51.44, respectively. Stanford’s Lee took second in a photo finish, with only 20 hundredths of a second separating Bootsma and Lee.
The 400-yard medley relay served as the night-capper after the top two teams had been duking it out all night. Every leg of the race was tight between the Cardinal and Bears, but it was Cal who nabbed the final event of day three by 42 hundredths of a second to edge out the Cardinal and take its first lead at the Championships. The Bears team, made up of Tran, Li, Bootsma an Franklin—all podium finishers from earlier events in the evening—finished with a time of 3:29.23. Stanford’s relay squad of DiRado, Olsen, Lee and Neal earned a 3:29.65 while Arizona’s relay team (Bonnie Brandon, Eve Sarris, Ashley Evans and Margo Greer) took third with a 3:32.21.
In diving action on Friday, familiar faces was the theme of the day. One day after just missing a chance to repeat as the Pac-12 three-meter diving champion, Stanford junior Kristian Ipsen didn’t let his second opportunity to win consecutive titles at the Conference championships slip away, winning the one-meter dive by breaking his own Pac-12 record he set a year ago with a 481.65. Arizona senior Raphael Qunitero scored a 413.90 to earn the second-place finish followed by Utah’s Josiah Purss, who recorded a 372.30. The women’s three-meter was won by a Pac-12 diving staple in USC junior Haley Ishimatsu, the reigning Pac-12 Platform champion. Ishimatsu tallied a 347.23 to nab the title, while this year’s one-mter champion, Stanford’s Stephanie Phipps, took second with a 338.50 and USC’s Samantha Adams earned her highest-career finish at the championships with a 337.70.
With the shift of power at the top the new team standings are as follows: California (1019.5), Stanford (967), USC (896), UCLA (619.5), Arizona (614.5), UTAH (473), ARIZONA STATE (299.5), WASHINGTON (262) and OREGON STATE (209).
The fourth and final day kicks off at 11 a.m. P.T. with preliminaries and finals for the 1650-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 200-yard breakstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly in addition to the prelims and semifinals for the men’s and women’s platform drives. Wrapping up the 2014 championships is the 400-free relay, after which the Pac-12 Champion will be crowned.