Jan. 20, 2012
BERKELEY - Caitlin Leverenz and Catherine Breed combined to produce five individual wins as second-ranked California raced past No. 5 Arizona, 174-126, in their first home meet of 2012 on a cold, rainy Friday at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Leverenz, a junior, swam to wins in the 200-yard butterfly, 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley and contributed to a winning relay. Breed, a freshman, won the 500 and 1000 freestyles, as the Golden Bears won 10 out of 16 events and improved their record to 4-0 (4-0 in the Pac-12). Senior Liv Jensen also captured a total of three events: the 50 freestyle and both relays.
The Cal and Arizona women (8-2, 2-2 Pac-12) shared Spieker with their male counterparts Friday, as No. 1 Arizona beat No. 6 Cal, 191-107.
In a women's meet that featured two of the top programs in the nation - defending NCAA champion Cal and 2011 NCAA fifth-place team Arizona - the conditions didn't allow the teams to produce many stunning times, perhaps other than Leverenz's 4:09.51 in the 400 IM that set Spieker and Cal dual-meet records.
But head coach Teri McKeever was pleased with how things turned out for her Bears.
"I thought the racing was great," she said. "It was the first time we raced in five weeks. It was great for some people; some people we need to work on and get the bugs out. But I thought Arizona came in and was ready to go, and we definitely had some women respond in Caitlin Leverenz, Catherine Breed and Sara Isakovic. I thought Katherine Raatz did a really nice job, too."
Leverenz swam the breaststroke leg of Cal's 200-medley relay, which included sophomore Cindy Tran, senior Colleen Fotsch and Jensen and won the first race of the day with an NCAA B qualifying time of 1:39.19. A Tucson, Ariz., native, Leverenz later won the 200 fly in a time of 1:57.18 (NCAA B) and the 200 breast in a time of 2:11.25 (NCAA B).
"Caitlin is a rare person that you get an opportunity to coach that has a lot of talents. As a coach, she can help you in a lot of different ways. She's definitely focused this year with it being an Olympic year. She's been focused her whole career, but I'm happy to see her being rewarded for a couple years of really good, hard, purposeful work."
Breed clocked Cal's fastest 1000 free of the season with a winning time of 9:56.64 and later posted a time of 4:46.39 (NCAA B) to clinch the 500 free. Isakovic won the 100 fly in a time of 54.15 (NCAA B) and, in the meet-ending 400-free relay, combined with Raatz, freshman Caroline Piehl and Jensen to emerge triumphant with a time of 3:19.61 (NCAA B).
"Of the freshmen, Catherine Breed and Caroline Piehl did a nice job," McKeever added. "Some of the other ones are still trying to figure out a college dual meet, what's required of that and the intensity of an Arizona meet as opposed to maybe some of the meets we had in the fall. It's still a learning curve."
Jensen, the school record holder (21.50) and the 2010 NCAA champion in the 50 free, won today's sprint in an NCAA B time of 22.49. She also took second place in the 100 free (49.59, NCAA B).
Raatz, another Arizona native from Phoenix, swam against her former school in her penultimate home dual meet and led off Cal's meet-ending 400-free relay. She placed third in the 100 free in a time of 50.52.
The Bears also did well in diving and in particular on the three-meter springboard, sweeping the top three spots. Junior Kelsey Heiken won with a score of 306.30, sophomore Kahley Rowell finished second (290.33) and senior Molly Hayes took third (281.70). Hayes placed second at one meter (281.70), while Rowell was fourth (255.53).
"The divers really helped us out," McKeever said. "Going 1-2-3 on the three meter was a big momentum boost, and Todd Mulzet's doing a great job with them coming off a good training camp and a good Stanford Invite."
The Cal women will host No. 24 Arizona State at noon on Saturday, Jan. 21, in their last home meet of the season; the Cal men will also take on Arizona State in their last home meet. Prior to the competition - the last home meet for eight senior Cal women - the Bears will honor their student-athletes as part of Senior Day.