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Bears Go 2-For-2 On Pac-12 Opening Night

Feb 24, 2021
Ayla Spitz, Robin Neumann and Rachel Klinker celebrate the Bears' 800 free relay win.


HOUSTON – No. 1-ranked California kicked off the Pac-12 Championships in style Wednesday night as the Golden Bears captured both the 800-yard free relay and 400-yard medley relay. In addition, Briana Thai reached the podium in diving when she took third place on the 1-meter springboard.
Leading off the 800 free relay, Robin Neumann staked the Bears to a lead they would not relinquish, completing her opening leg in 1:43.19. Ayla Spitz and Rachel Klinker kept Cal in front, and Alicia Wilson closed with a 1:43.97 split with the Bears reaching the final wall in 6:55.99. The result was more than two seconds in front of runner-up Stanford and puts Cal second in the nation in the event.
Cal also entered a non-scoring B relay in the 800 free, and the foursome of Isabel Ivey, Sarah DiMeco, Mara Allen and Elizabeth Bailey finished in 7:09.46. Ivey led off in 1:43.11 to make her the No. 4 200 free performer in the country this year, now one spot ahead of Neumann.
Cal also led from the start in the 400 medley relay. Freshman Isabelle Stadden posted a lifetime-best 50.86 in her leadoff 100 back. Ema Rajic (breaststroke) and Ivey (butterfly) extended the Bears' advantage, and Emily Gantriis brought it home for a time of 3:26.70 for the No. 3 time in school history and second best in the country this season. Cal's B relay of Téa Laughlin, Ali Harrison, Elise Garcia and Neumann finished in 3:32.61.
Thai got Cal going earlier in the day at the diving portion of the meet, which is being held at the University of Arizona in Tucson. With her score of 312.05 and third-place finish, she posted the highest result by a Bear in any diving event since Kayley Rowell was third on platform in 2014. Thai's two best dives were a reverse 1 1/2 somersault pike on her third rotation when she earned 8s and 8.5s, while she closed out her afternoon with 56.40 points with an inward 1 1/2 somersault pike.
The Pac-12 meet, which lasts through Saturday, continues Thursday with the 500 free, 200 individual medley, 50 free and 200 free relay in the pool, as well as 3-meter diving. Finals from both diving (2:10 p.m. PT) and swimming (4 p.m. PT) will be streamed live on