Nov. 17, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - With two more victories on Saturday night, second-ranked California repeated as the champion of the Arena Invitational at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. Freshman Elizabeth Pelton won the 200-yard backstroke, and the Golden Bears closed the night by winning the 400-yard freestyle relay. Cal collected 1168.5 points over the three-day meet, with Arizona State taking second place (970 points), San Diego State finishing third (908.5) and UCLA placing fourth (850) in the 17-team field.
Cal head coach Teri McKeever was pleased with her team's development at the meet, a three-day affair that - along with the Georgia Fall Invitational - will pay dividends down the road when the Bears compete in the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA Championships.
"I'm really pleased with the number of swims we had with people in different events," she said. "Also, we embraced the idea of being uncomfortable and of seeing what we can learn to make adjustments. Particularly for the freshmen, to see how we travel for a three-day meet and do all the subtleties to be part of the team are important aspects of this meet. We also had a couple of beach workouts Thursday and Friday before the competition. That adds another dimension to help us develop. We have an opportunity to go to Georgia and compete against more teams from different parts of the country that will help us race and help us become better."
Pelton posted an NCAA B cut of 1:54.43 in the 200 back, with junior Cindy Tran taking second place with an NCAA B cut of 1:55.94. In the last final of the night, Pelton, freshman Rachel Bootsma, freshman Rachael Acker and sophomore Camille Cheng clocked an NCAA B qualifying time of 3:18.91 to win the 400-free relay.
Senior Caitlin Leverenz finished second in the 200-yard butterfly with an NCAA B qualifying time of 1:56.29. Earlier in the meet, the 2012 NCAA Swimmer of the Meet captured the 200-yard individual medley and the 400 IM and swam the breaststroke legs of Cal's victorious 200- and 400-medley relays.
In the 1650 free, sophomore Catherine Breed posted a time of 16:38.92 to take sixth, while freshman Lauren Driscoll took seventh with a time of 16:45.42. Sophomore Yvette Kong collected another sixth-place result for Cal, swimming a time of 2:17.91 in the 200 breaststroke.
Acker posted Cal's best finish in the 100 free, taking seventh in a time of 50.43. Alumna Liv Jensen, swimming unattached, won the 100 free with a meet-record time of 48.43.
"The freshmen as a class really impressed me with their ability to come in and contribute right away," McKeever added. "Cindy Tran had a hiccup one of the days, but she really had a nice meet. Caitlin continues to provide valuable leadership. I thought Mikkel-Ane Stipe - coming off doing nice swims against Texas and Wisconsin - put together a good meet here. Camille Cheng really had a good meet and in her beach work. She really did a nice job."
Cheng anchored Cal's winning relay on Saturday as well as its second-place 800-free relay the night before. The sophomore also took ninth place in Friday's 200-free final.
"What I'm looking for is which athletes are consistent in their performance," McKeeever said. "Regardless of whether it's their main event, secondary event, a prelim or a final, their effort, determination and attention to detail are what I'm trying to evaluate. It was a really, really good way to check into that individually and collectively."
The Cal swimmers return to action in the Georgia Fall Invitational held Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in Athens, Ga.
* NCAA B qualifying standard