It will take a week or two for Halloween decorations to disappear from the windows and facades of homes and storefronts. Packed away in storage boxes, the plush spiders and inflatable pumpkins will patiently await late October of next year.
Meanwhile, the decorations around the necks of the Cal women’s swim team are staying year-round — and with a resounding win over Utah at home in early October, the Bears proved exactly why they deserved them. In their first dual meet of the season and their first matchup against Pac-12 opposition, the Cal women cruised to a 184.5-111.5 win over the Utes.
Led by junior Abbey Weitzeil, who secured three individual event wins, and sophomore Robin Neumann, who won back-to-back freestyle events, the Bears captured 14 of 16 total events en route to their first win of the year. Fans will look to Weitzeil and Neumann to deliver yet again in the state of Washington, as Cal will travel to Pullman to take on Washington State this Saturday.
The Bears are expected to be heavy favorites against the unranked Cougars, whom they saw earlier this year at the Chick-fil-A Invitational in Fresno. There, Washington State finished in fourth place behind Cal, San Diego State and Fresno State.
This is the first time the two teams have met in a dual meet since 2016, when the Bears defeated the Cougars in Berkeley by a score of 155-97. Cal has not visited Pullman since 2015, when the Bears also won a two-day dual meet.
The Bears enter the meet with a 1-0 record, while, on the other hand, the Cougars come in with a 2-2 record with wins against San Diego and Idaho. Washington State suffered its losses against current No. 2 Stanford and Boise State earlier this month.
It’s worth noting that the Cougars are scheduled for a dual meet against Northern Arizona on Nov. 2, the day before Cal comes to town. Whether fatigue will play a part in the upcoming meet remains to be seen, but with the Bears three weeks removed from their last meet, it’s safe to say that Cal will be well-rested for Saturday’s matchup.
Though the Bears turned in a strong performance in their win against the Utes, Cal has since dropped in the NCAA rankings by three places. A win against Washington State should push them closer to their previous ranking of No. 2 in the nation. In the early going, Cal sits in fifth place behind Texas, Stanford, Michigan and North Carolina State.
Win or lose, the Bears will return from Pullman to host Texas at home Nov. 10. The last time the Bears and Longhorns matched up was in a close 152-149 Texas win in 2016. But with the second-place Bears finishing four spots ahead of the sixth-place Longhorns at last year’s NCAA Championships, Cal won’t be spooked by the current No. 1.
Chanun Ong covers women’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].