Arizona smackdown: Bears defeat Wildcats, Sun Devils

Photo of cal swimmer Alicia Wilson
Vanessa Lim/Senior Staff

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In a monumental weekend for Cal Athletics, the women’s swim and dive squad prevailed in its catfight against Arizona and wreaked havoc against ASU, earning its first win of 2022. Next to the men’s squad, the Bears preyed down their opponents and conquered nearly 86% of their races.

The odds were stacked against both Arizona teams this weekend. The women’s swim and dive program has a history of clean sweeps against both the Wildcats and Sun Devils, and this year proved no different.

This women’s swim and dive squad is arguably one of the best in school history. With swimmers such as senior Isabel Ivey and sophomore Isabelle Stadden leading the team with a strong commitment to success, the Bears have a bright future ahead with a high chance of competing for a Pac-12 and NCAA championship.

However, Cal must continue to work through its meets to grow as swimmers and competitors, and this past weekend allowed the Bears to do just that.

The Bears launched into full domination mode as they dove in their first race against the Wildcats on Friday.

Beginning with the 200-yard medley relay, Ivey swam the first leg of the race and gained a significant headstart for her team. The winning foursome — Ivey, senior Ema Rajic, freshman McKenna Stone and senior Elise Garcia — seized the first win of the weekend and created a domino effect for the races to come.

Freshman Fanni Fabian, the Hungary local, earned the first solo win in the 1000 free, the longest race of the day. With an impressive lead, Fabian finished nearly nine seconds before the runner-up, junior Rachel Klinker.

In back-to-back races, another freshman on the swimming squad, Lizzy Cook, emerged victorious in the 200 freestyle, leading a swarm of Bears behind her, including junior Mia Motekaitis, freshman Leah Polonsky and sophomore Emily Gantriis, who claimed the top four spots of the race.

Following the 200 freestyle, Ivey claimed her first of three wins in the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.51, earning nine points for her team. The Cal swimmer also secured a win in the 50 freestyle and 200 individual medley. Ivey single-handedly earned 27 of the 153 points that Cal accumulated and earned 11 more points in the medley relay.

Stadden conquered the 200 backstroke, claiming her first win of the weekend against Arizona in 1:56.61 with a six second lead.

The long list of wins from Friday highlights the hypothesis that Bears are sea creatures too; their continued success Saturday confirms the claim.

Though the sun was shining on the Spieker Aquatics Complex, the sun set on a potential win for the Sun Devils as they could not surmount the speed of the Bears.

With astounding team chemistry, foursome Stadden, Polonsky, Garcia and Gantriis secured a victory in the 200 medley relay in 1:38.90. In Saturday’s first race, the Bears set a precedent for success and maintained a winning mentality until the culminating race.

For the second time this weekend, untouchable Ivey reached the wall first in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, decisively winning every single individual race she competed in this past weekend.

Polonsky followed in Ivey’s footsteps, claiming the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.10 and the 400 individual medley in 4:14.53 against ASU.

Once again, Stadden proved her backstroke superiority after her triumph in the 100 backstroke, and Rajic overcame all obstacles as she secured the 200 breaststroke in 2:16.53, a win she stole out of the hands of ASU’s Emma Gehlert at the last leg of the race.

Cal added another win to its collection this season. Though not a simple task, the Bears made it look like one.

Cal is back in action next weekend in Los Angeles, traveling to swim against Pac-12 rivals USC and UCLA.

As the season is dwindling down and the pressure is on for a Pac-12 championship and NCAA title, the blue and gold hope to only gain momentum and wins.

Alisa Steel covers women’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].