FRESNO, California, October 13. DEFENDING NCAA champion California set four meet records and three pool records en route to winning four of six events and leading the three-team field on the first day of the Early Bird Invitational on Friday at the Fresno State Aquatics Center. The Golden Bears lead the two-day meet with 127.5 points, with San Jose State second (80.5 points) and the host Bulldogs third (55).
In an interesting albeit early season race, Cal freshman Elizabeth Pelton edged senior and defending NCAA champion Caitlin Leverenz, 1:58.91-2:03.00, for the win in the 200-yard individual medley. Pelton's time set pool and meet records. Kelly Naze – another Cal freshman – took third (2:04.55). Leverenz, of course, won the Olympic bronze medal in the 200-meter IM in London and captured the 200-meter IM at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, while Pelton placed third in the 200 IM at trials.
The Cal A squad won the day's opening race – the 200-yard medley relay – with junior Cindy Tran, Leverenz, Naze and sophomore Caroline Piehl posting a meet- and pool-record time of 1:44.13. Cal's B relay of freshman Rachel Bootsma, junior Melissa Bates, Pelton and sophomore Camille Cheng finished second with a time of 1:44.70, which also eclipsed the previous pool and meet records.
In the 500 freestyle, Cal sophomore Catherine Breed clocked a meet- and pool-record time of 4:55.97 to beat second-place teammate Lauren Driscoll. The freshman swam a time of 4:57.89, which also surpassed the previous records.
Cal finished 1-2-3 in the 800-free relay, with the A squad of freshman Alicia Grima, Cheng, Leverenz and Driscoll posting a meet-record time of 7:29.89 to win. The Cal B squad of freshman Rachael Acker, Bootsma, sophomore Kaylin Bing and Piehl was second in a time of 7:31.12 and the Bears' C team of sophomore Taylor Nanfria, sophomore Melanie Klaren, junior Mikkel-Ane Stipe and Pelton was third in 7:32.06.
Acker claimed Cal's best finish in the 50 free, taking second (23.77) behind Fresno State's Dani Yoho (meet- and pool-record 23.41).
Fresno State divers placed 1-2-3 on the one-meter springboard; Cal's divers are not competing in the meet.
The invitational ends on Saturday.
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