SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, October 27. POWERED by strong performances all the Golden Bears, including senior Caitlin Leverenz and the talented freshman class, California routed Utah, 184-115, on Saturday at Ute Natatorium. After winning 11 of 16 events, the defending NCAA champion improved its dual-meet record to 2-0 on the young season and opened Pac-12 Conference action with a 1-0 mark. Utah fell to 2-3 (1-3 in the Pac-12).
Leverenz – the 2012 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and Honda Sports Award winner for Swimming – captured the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard individual medley against the Utes. Freshman Elizabeth Pelton won the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle and swam the third leg of Cal's victorious 200-freestyle relay.
“The team overall did a nice job racing,” Cal and 2012 U.S. Olympic head coach Teri McKeever said. “Utah gave us some tough racing situations. It was good to double up on meets to prepare for later in the year and the championship meets. We still have lots to work on! No one stood out really, but I like the way the group responded to new challenges – travel, altitude and unknown facilities. That will help us later.
“We're looking forward to a busy weekend ahead with the Texas meet, the Wisconsin meet, the aquatics gala the football game and our ring ceremony. We're also looking forward to supporting the football team tonight against Utah. Go Bears!”
The Utes won the first event of the day – the 200-yard medley relay – over Cal's quartet of junior Cindy Tran, sophomore Yvette Kong, freshman Kelly Naze and freshman Rachael Acker, 1:44.13-1:44.23.
But Cal rebounded to win the next six races, with freshman winning four of them. Freshman Lauren Driscoll captured the 1000 free with a time of 10.25.31, Pelton won the 200 free (1:48.78), freshman and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Rachel Bootsma took the 100 backstroke (55.20), Leverenz won the 100 breast (1:03.12), Naze won the 200 butterfly (2:06.85) and junior Mikkel-Ane Stipe edged Tran in the 50 free, 24.19-24.36.
Utah's Kersten Merry broke that run with a win in the one-meter springboard (281.47 points), with freshman Annie Kastler posting Cal's top finish (2nd, 270.75). Merry swept the diving events, later scoring 267.07 on the three-meter board, with junior Bear Kahley Rowell a close second (265.72).
Leverenz – the defending NCAA champ in the 200 breaststroke – easily the won 200 breast on Saturday, clocking a time of 2:18.57 to beat second-place Ute Nicole Ligeza (2:22.90) by more than four seconds. The second-place finisher in the 400-meter IM at the 2012 Olympic Trials, Leverenz won the 400-yard IM against Utah with a time of 4:23.27.
Pelton notched a time of 55.11 in the 100 fly and, in the last event of the day, joined sophomore Kaylin Bing, junior Melissa Bates and Acker in winning the 200-free relay, 1:34.81, with another Cal relay of sophomore Caroline Piehl, Tran, sophomore Catherine Breed and sophomore Camille Cheng taking second (1:35.44).
The Bears' other win came in the 200 back, with Tran – the two-time defending NCAA champ in the 100 back – winning in a time of 2:03.90.
Cal returns to action on Friday, when the Bears host their first dual meet of the season against Texas at 1 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Bears also host Wisconsin next Saturday at noon at Spieker.