Feb. 25, 2012
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Amazing performances by all the Golden Bears - including Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet Caitlin Leverenz - Saturday night clinched California's second conference title in four seasons and the inaugural Pac-12 team championship at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. Cal ended the meet with 1389.5 points to top rival and second-place Stanford, which scored 1341.5 points. USC (1225) placed third in the nine-team championships.
The Bears won the Pac-10 team championship in 2009.
"It was hard fought," Cal head coach Teri McKeever said of tonight's victory. "It's rewarding that every woman on the team - every diver and every swimmer - contributed points, and it was a close meet. We had tremendous leadership from our seniors - Liv Jensen, Shelley Harper and Sara Isakovic in particular and Caitlin - and Todd Mulzet's done a great job with the diving program. That's been an area we've had some bumps in, and they stepped up. It took everybody."
Jensen won the 100-yard freestyle in an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 47.42, which is a career-best time and the third-fastest time in Cal history. Leverenz, a junior, captured the 200-yard breaststroke title in a school-record and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:05.49.
"That's awesome that the other coaches acknowledged what a phenomenal meet she had by naming her Swimmer of the Meet," McKeever said of Leverenz.
Overall, Cal won six individual events - Leverenz in the 400-yard individual medley and 200 breaststroke, Jensen in the 50 and 100 frees, Isakovic in the 100 butterfly and Tran in the 100 backstroke - and three relays - the 200- and 400-medley relays and the 800-free relay - en route to earning its conference crown.
Catherine Breed continued her stellar freshman season by swimming the second-fastest 1650 freestyle in school history, posting an NCAA consideration time of 16:10.13 to take third place in the first final of the night. Fellow freshman Taylor Nanfria scored 14 points for Cal by taking 13th place in a time of 16:55.87.
Another freshman - Melanie Klaren - swam in the final of the second event - the 200 backstroke - placing fifth in an NCAA consideration time of 1:55.99. Sophomore Cindy Tran, who won the 100 back for Cal one night earlier, won the consolation final of the 200 back and wound up ninth in an NCAA consideration time of 1:54.98.
Isakovic swam a career-best and automatic NCAA qualifying time of 1:54.87 to take third in the 200 butterfly.
All five Cal divers scored for the Bears in the platform, with sophomore Kahley Rowell and senior Alissa Barker reaching the championship final. Rowell posted a score of 246.55 to take fifth place, while Barker was right behind her in sixth with a score of 221.55 in the final.
The Cal A quartet of Isakovic, freshman Kaylin Bing, freshman Camille Cheng and senior Katherine Raatz finished third in the meet's closing event - the 400-free relay - with an NCAA B time of 3:16.80.
"That 2:05 by Caitlin is obviously a great swim, and Sara did a great job," McKeever said. "It just took everybody. The wins are obviously important, but so is the ninth place by Cindy Tran in the 200 back, 10th place by Shelley in the 200 fly, swims by Camille Cheng, who scored in all her events, Kaylin Bing doing well as a freshman, Breed swimming lifetime bests in her individual events and other contributions."
Cal will stay in Federal Way another day to participate in some long-course racing in the Pac-12 Invitational.
"There are some things we have to keep working on, and that's what we're going to do, but right now we're proud we were able to finish it off," McKeever added. "Stanford's a great team. This is a very, very realistic expectation of what might happen at NCAAs, with USC, Arizona, Stanford and us being among the top teams battling it out. You couldn't ask for a better rehearsal. It's time to be happy for a little while, and then we have to get back to work tomorrow."
^ NCAA A or automatic qualifying time