Cal Finishes As NCAA Runner-Up
GREENSBORO, N.C. – A total team effort powered California to a tremendous final session and 568 points, but the Golden Bears came up just short with a runner-up finish at the 2021 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
By placing second, Cal earned a top-two finish at the NCAA Championships for the 11th consecutive meet dating back to 2010. The Bears' 568 points were the most ever by a runner-up at the national meet, surpassing Stanford's 501 from the 2002 championships, and were more than Cal scored in its 2019 title (560). Texas won the 2021 title with 595 points, 83 of which came from diving events.
The final night in Greensboro was highlighted by Ryan Hoffer's third individual title of the meet in the 100-yard freestyle (40.89) and a meet-ending 400 free relay victory (2:46.60) by Björn Seeliger, Hoffer, Destin Lasco and Hugo González. With two titles Saturday, Cal totaled five at the meet; Hoffer swept his three individual events (50 free, 100 fly and 100 free) and the Bears won the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
On a night in which Cal needed multiple big swims to have a shot at the crown, the Bears responded to the challenge in each race. That started with the 1650 free, where Zach Yeadon's gritty performance earned him a sixth-place finish (14:36.06) while Sean Grieshop took 14th (14:48.98).
In a thrilling 200 back race, Cal went 2-3-4 behind a monster effort from freshman Destin Lasco, who threw down 1:35.99 to challenge Shaine Casas of Texas A&M (1:35.75). Lasco's swim made him the third-fastest ever in the event, trailing just Cal great Ryan Murphy and Casas. Bryce Mefford (1:38.31) and Daniel Carr (1:38.86) placed third and fourth, respectively, while Colby Mefford took 13th (1:40.64) to give Cal 52 combined points.
After breaking Nathan Adrian's 100 free school record (41.08) from 2009 with a 40.90 in morning qualifying, Hoffer shaved another .01 seconds off in the finals en route to his individual sweep. Hoffer became just the third Bear with three individual victories in one NCAA meet, joining Andrew Seliskar in 2019 (200 IM, 200 free, 200 breast) and Matt Biondi in 1987 (50, 100, 200 free). Björn Seeliger took fourth (41.74).
Reece Whitley (1:49.54) and González (1:51.20) finished second and third in the 200 breast for 33 total points. Whitley took event winner Max McHugh to the wire, touching just 0.52 seconds behind him.
Cal notched another runner-up swim in the 200 fly as Trenton Julian touched in 1:38.85. Julian, who placed top-four in his three individual events this week, led at the halfway mark of the race before falling back to second at the finish. Dare Rose added a 14th-place finish (1:42.83).
The 400 free relay victory concluded the meet on a high note for Cal. It was the Bears' first NCAA title in the event since 2011. Swimming in heat four of five, Cal beat out eventual runner-up Florida for the win behind relay legs from Seeliger (42.22), Hoffer (40.86), Lasco (41.74) and González (41.78).
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