Cal Men Beat Stanford 129-114 on a Rainy Day in Berkeley to Finish Undefeated for First Time in Thornton Era; Was it the Best Dual Meet Ever?

Editor’s note: Conference meets? We don’t need no stinkin’ conference meets when we have dual meets like Stanford’s men at Berkeley on Saturday.

Were they rested and shaved? Shaved but not rested? Rested but not shaved? Or just excited to race? SwimInfo doesn’t know yet but will let you all know when we know.

It is impossible to steal the whole show on a weekend of conference championships, especially where a star like Ryan Lochte of Florida has an SEC meet that can challenge any of the best meet-long individual performances in history, with two individual and one relay all-time best performances plus five other swims less than a second off the best performance ever. Beyond this, the meet produced all-time leading relay performances on both sides of the gender divide.

Even so, Cal’s showdown with Stanford is hard to top. Just to give an idea of what we mean, consider the 50 freestyle. For 30 years, teams at the Southeastern Conference Meet have been shaved and rested as opposed to putting all their eggs in the NCAA basket. By the tremendous performances seen in Gainesville this week there is no reason to think that pattern is changed. The SEC title was won by Auburn’s Fred Bousquet at :19.57 This is the same Fred Bousquet who is the defending NCAA Champion, winning last year in a short course meters world record performance.

Bousquet’s shaved/rested heats & finals indoor climate controlled winning SEC effort … would have been good for FOURTH in the outdoor, in the rain, Stanford – Cal dual meet.

Duje Draganja :19.45 (CAL)
Milorad Cavic :19.47 (CAL)
Ben Wildman-Tobriner :19.52 (STAN)
Bousquet :19.57 (Aub).

To give Auburn its due, George Bovell was :19.52 leading off their 4 x 50 free relay; he could have tied for third in the duel meet…on his third chance at the event during the SEC meet.

Nort Thornton has always been adamant about working through the season, for years keeping a separate set of records, highly prized among the Bears, for unshaved swims. Either he and coach Kenney at The Farm agreed to swim this years meet under different preparations than in past years or a whole bunch of those “unshaved” records fell and the Men’s NCAAs have some truly great swims and races to look forward to in a few weeks with more teams in legitimate positions to challenge in the team race than for many years.

The following is drawn from the report on the meet by Cal and thus does not have as much emphasis on the Stanford swims, but the Cardinal were equally impressive. Cal won the meet by 15 points and won the dive 23-15. Thus only 7 points separated the squads in swimming.

We invite you to pull up the full results and be amazed at both the lead quality and the incredible depth displayed in a dual meet.

BERKELEY, CA, February 20. CALIFORNIA did something it hadn't done in nearly 14 years – beat Stanford in men's swimming & diving. The fourth-ranked Golden Bears won seven of 13 events to upset No. 2 Stanford, 129-114, on a rain-filled Saturday afternoon at Spieker Aquatics Complex, per Golden Bear reports.

This is the first time in Cal head coach Nort Thornton's 31 years in Berkeley that the Bears have ended the dual-meet season undefeated (9-0, 4-0 Pac-10), including Cal's 1979 and 1980 NCAA Championship seasons. Stanford falls to 5-1 (3-1).

"It feels great," Thornton said of Cal's first victory over its rival in over a decade. "Both teams swam really well. It wasn't a matter of anyone swimming poorly. Considering the weather, the times were fantastic. It's one of the fastest dual meets I've ever seen."

The last time Cal beat Stanford in a dual meet was on Feb. 23, 1991, when the Bears won, 167-134, at Stanford. The Cardinal leads the series 93-14.
Leading by six points entering the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Cal clinched victory in the meet by taking first and third places. The Cal A team (Rolandas Gimbutis, Milorad Cavic, Jonas Tilly and Evan Lane) won the race in a time of 2:52.87 and the Cal B team (Jernej Godec, William Copeland, Matt Lyon and Joe Whittington) took third in 2:58.44. The A team's time is Cal's best this season and is a new Spieker Aquatics Complex record in the 400 free relay. Both the A and B teams swam automatic NCAA qualifying times.

Seniors Duje Draganja (50 and 100 frees) and Louie Gagnet (1- and 3- meter diving) won two individual events each to pace the Bears. Draganja's time of 19.45 in the 50 and Cavic's 19.47 in the 50, which earned him second place, are automatic NCAA qualifying times and are Cal's best times in the 50 free this season. Cal's top three times in the 100 free – Draganja (1st, 42.12), Gimbutis (3rd, 43.19) and Tilly (4th, 43.43) – are likewise automatic NCAA qualifying times and Cal's top times in the 100 free in 2004-05. Additionally, Draganja's times in the 50 and 100 frees are new Spieker records.

Gagnet won by big margins on both springboards. He scored 330.97 to beat Stanford's Nathan Kim by 74.03 on the 1-meter and scored 368.62 to beat senior teammate Nathaniel Dean by 97.35 on the 3-meter. Gagnet's marks are automatic NCAA qualifying scores for their respective events.

Cal set the tone early, after an emotional send-off to departing seniors Draganja, Gagnet, Dean, John Dorr and Caleb Rowe and Gimbutis, a sophomore who's exhausted his eligibility. The day began with the 400 medley relay, and, despite the fact that Stanford had swum a better 400 medley relay than Cal entering the day, Cal took first and third in the event. The Cal A team of Cavic, Rowe, Draganja and Gimbutis swam an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:08.23 to win the relay in a new Spieker record, while Cal B (Godec, Henrique Barbosa, Patrick O'Neil and Tilly) also swam an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:12.07 in third.

O'Neil took 1.6 seconds off his lifetime best swim to win the 200 butterfly in 1:44.22, automatically qualify for the NCAA championships and set a new Spieker record. The Bears swam two more automatic NCAA qualifying times – freshman Dominik Meichtry's third-place finish (1:45.88) in the 200 free and junior Miguel Molina's second-place finish (1:46.49) in the 200 IM.

Stanford swam its share of automatic NCAA qualifying times, including Daniel Beal's win (1:35.09) in the 200 free, Tobias Oriwol's win (1:46.45) in the 200 IM, Hongzhe Sun's win (1:43.86) in the 200 backstroke and Gary Marshall's win (1:56.22) in the 200 breaststroke. Marshall's time in the 200 breaststroke is also a new Spieker record.

Cal has two weeks off before it sees Stanford again at the 2005 Pac-10 Championships March 2-5 in Long Beach.

— Duncan Scott

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