Bears Win NCAA 200 Free Relay
GREENSBORO, North Carolina – Cal raced to its first national title of 2021 on Thursday when the Golden Bears opened night two of the NCAA Championships with a thrilling victory in the 200-yard free relay. The foursome of Eloise Riley, Emily Gantriis, Elise Garcia and Isabel Ivey hit the wall in 1:25.78 to give Cal its fifth win in the event in the last six championship meets.
Riley led off with a PR-tying 22.09, but the Bears were down a by a full season to Virginia, which had a 21.09 leadoff leg from 50 free champion Kate Douglass. Cal, though, reeled in the field with three successive splits under 21.25 seconds. Gantriis got the comeback started with a 21.23 leg, and Garcia sent the Bears to the verge of the lead with her 21.24 split. Ivey then brought it home with a 21.22 over the final 50 yards, as Cal touched 0.19 seconds in front of UVa.
The Bears have dominated the event recently, capturing the title three years in a row from 2015-2017 and again in 2019 before the 2020 meet was canceled due to COVID-19.
Conversely, Cal had not earned points in the 500 free since 2015, but three Golden Bears scored significant points, led by Ayla Spitz, who placed fifth in the A final in 4:39.70. In addition, Robin Neumann was 13th in 4:42.31 and Rachel Klinker 16th in 4:45.38 in their B final swims.
Alicia Wilson, the Pac-12 champion in the 200 individual medley, earned a third-place finish in the event Thursday with a time of 1:54.51.
In the 50 free, Gantriis finished second in the B final (10th overall) with a lifetime-best 21.90, which moves her up to seventh on Cal's all-time list in the event.
The Bears, however, lost points in the final event of the night, the 400 medley relay, when they were disqualified.
In the team standings, Cal sits in fourth place with 114 points. Virginia is in first with 184 points, followed by North Carolina State (124) and Texas (119).
The NCAA meet resumes on Friday with prelims in six events starting at 7 a.m. PT – 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back and 3-meter diving. Finals start at 3 p.m. PT and will also include the 200 medley relay. All sessions will be streamed on espn3.com.