No. 1 Cal men’s swim got a taste of its own medicine Saturday, as No. 4 Stanford’s depth led to an upset of the top-ranked Bears, 151-149.
Despite winning only five of 14 swim events, the Cardinal racked up points from two senior divers and timely second-, third- and fourth-place finishes to end the dual meet season undefeated.
Cal (5-1, 4-1) has not been down this late in a meet all year — there was never pressure in the last few events because the Bears had always pulled away from their opponent by then. But Cal entered the final event of the day trailing Stanford by 7 on the scoreboard.
All eyes were on the two Cal relay squads. To win, one of them had to reach the wall first. The other had to finish at least second or third.
Cal freshman Ryan Hoffer, sophomores Pawel Sendyk, Michael Jensen and junior Andrew Seliskar touched first in 1:18.06. One down.
Unfortunately, the blue and gold squad of freshmen Nate Biondi and Bryce Mefford, junior Spencer Farrar and senior Kyle Coan fell less than a second behind Stanford’s third-place squad, giving the Cardinal a 2-point win — their first over the Bears since the 2011-12 season.
“We had a couple close races that didn’t necessarily go our way, which in a dual meet like that, it’s the difference-maker,” said Cal head coach Dave Durden. “It wasn’t one person or one event.”
Seliskar and Jensen led the way for the Bears with two individual wins each, with the former taking the 100 and 200 breast and the latter pacing the field in both the 100 and 200 free.
Stanford’s top performer was junior Abrahm DeVine, who swept the 100 and 200 backstrokes as well as the 200 IM crown. One of the Cardinal’s many talented distance swimmers, sophomore Grant Shoults broke his own pool record in the 500 free, winning in 4:17.69.
“It’s good for us to remember … and know that it comes down to that touch, that turn, that focus, that breakout,” Durden said. “It was really good to experience that over the course of a meet, and certainly something our guys will take with them over the next 10 days as we get ready for Pac 12s and subsequently for NCAAs.”
On Stanford’s Senior Day, its seniors Tarek Abdelghany and Ted Miclau delivered valuable points on the boards, finishing in the top three for both 1-meter and 3-meter.
In their final outing before Pac-12 Championships, the Cal divers bounced back from a down performance against USC. Freshmen Johnny Robinson and Jackson Gabler both set personal bests in the 3-meter with scores of 339.00 and 302.48. Robinson’s score was good for third place.
“(Robinson was) trying to take a step back and take a couple of breaths before he got into the dive, whereas he used to rush himself a little bit more,” said Cal diving coach Derek Starks. “He’s been really focusing on his form and technique lately, letting himself really, really get more into the dive instead of the atmosphere that might affect him.”
The divers will have a short turnaround, as the men’s Pac-12 Diving Championships begin on Wednesday. All four of Cal’s divers will make the trip up to Federal Way, Washington, in hopes of putting Cal on the board before the swimmers compete a week later.