Cal sweeps Arizona schools in final home meets

In perhaps its strongest weekend of the year, the Cal women’s swim team shut down No. 5 Arizona and No. 24 Arizona State in its final home meets of the season.

It was the last time the eight seniors on the team would compete at the Spieker Aquatics Complex, and they were recognized before the event.

“Before the meet, we talked to the players about racing for their senior teammates,” associate head coach Kristen Cunnane said. “It was really great to see them get recognized.”

Indeed, it was quite a sight as friends, family and fans cheered on the seniors from both the men’s and women’s teams, and the band made a rare appearance at Spieker.

The No. 2 Bears competitively swam for the first time in approximately five weeks but showed that they did not need any time to get back to their top form. They came out with a great performance Friday against Arizona (8-2, 2-2 Pac-12), winning 174-126. The team built upon that momentum the next day against Arizona State (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12), winning easily 169-114.

This dual meet was supposed to be a great test for the squad, but the Bears showed that they are a tough team to hang with. They beat the Wildcats thoroughly before bringing a similar performance the next day against the Sun Devils.

“At this point, after the long break, we really want to build on our experience of racing,” Cunnane said. “We are going to try and take this momentum forward.”

The eight seniors — Alissa Barker, Ursula Dailey, Colleen Fotsch, Shelley Harper, Molly Hayes, Sara Isakovic, Liv Jensen and Katherine Raatz — were showcased throughout the matchup against Arizona State and delivered with their performances.

Isakovic, Fotsch, Jensen and Raatz made up a team that won the 200-free relay. Jensen won three total events on the day. Isakovic and Harper also won individual events.

The wins against ranked opponents enable Cal to leave Speiker on a high note before heading into its road meets. However, the team recognizes that there are areas it still needs to improve on, such as winning in many different areas.

This weekend, it certainly seemed like they had accomplished that against Arizona State, as four different seniors won events, and the Bears won 11 of the total 16.

Going forward, Cal will face a pair of southern California teams, taking on UCLA and USC this weekend in Los Angeles. They will have a chance to continue their excellent performance against teams with great lineups.

“These are both great teams who have great individual swimmers,” Cunnane said. “It will be a good test for us.”

As of now, the Bears have shifted their focus from a Hawaiian vacation spent trying to regroup over winter break to a great performance against very competent teams. They will hit the road for the rest of the season, looking to finish with similar results.