Bears Surge Into Lead At NCAA Meet
ATLANTA – On a potentially pivotal night at the NCAA Championships Friday Cal started and ended the session with national titles and posted a number of big swims in between. As a result, the Golden Bears surged into first place in the team standings with one day of racing remaining.
Hugo Gonzalez got the Bears going with a victory in the 400-yard individual medley, and the quartet of Destin Lasco, Reece Whitley, Trenton Julian and Björn Seeliger captured the 400-yard medley relay to close out the evening's racing.
Through 14 events, Cal has 320.5 points, ahead of second-place Texas (313.0) and third-place Florida (272.0). The meet concludes with seven events on Saturday.
Gonzalez gave a strong indication of what was to come when he swam 3:34.88 in the morning 400 IM prelims to break Josh Prenot's six-year-old school record. Then in the final, he took another two seconds off, pulling away at the finish and hitting the wall in 3:32.88. The time beat the previous NCAA and U.S. Open mark of 3:33.42 set by Georgia's Chase Kalisz in 2017.
Gonzalez was not the only Bears in the 400 IM, as Sean Grieshop captured eighth in 3:40.12, and Jason Louser set his own lifetime best to win the B final and ninth overall in 3:38.23, sixth fastest in school history.
In the 400 medley relay, Cal swam in heat three of four timed finals, and the Bears posted a time of 3:00.36 for the last heat to chase. The Bears had to hold their collective breaths, but when Indiana touched first in the final heat in 3:00.76, they had the title. Cal's time established a school record.
In the 100 breast, Liam Bell lowered the Cal record twice, first with a time of 50.66 seconds in qualifying and then at 50.50 in the final, which put him in third place. Whitley was right behind in fourth place with his own lifetime best in 50.84.
The 200 free had two Bears swimming in the finals, with Julian placing seventh in 1:31.80 and freshman Jason Hanson earning his first individual All-America honor by taking 15th in 1:33.33. Dare Rose earned the 16th seed in 100 butterfly qualifying and moved up to 13th overall with his 45.37 finish.
Four Golden Bears scored in the 100 back, led by Lasco, who registered a PR 44.36 to take fourth place. Seeliger joined him in the A final and was eighth in 44.87 seconds. In the B final, Daniel Carr (12th, 44.98) and Bryce Mefford (12th, 45.03) also added to Cal's points total.
The Bears will swim the 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly and 400 free relay on the final day of the NCAA Championships Saturday. Prelims for the individual events start at 7 a.m. PT, followed by finals at 3 p.m. PT. ESPN3 will stream both sessions live, with the morning events here and the finals here.
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