BERKELEY, California, February 16. SWIMMING in the last home meet of her amazing collegiate career, Caitlin Leverenz won four events to lead seventh-ranked California past No. 2 Stanford, 154.5-145.5, on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Golden Bears' lone senior won both breaststroke events, captured the 200-yard individual medley and swam the breaststroke leg of the winning 200-yard medley relay.
Prior to the dual meet, Cal honored Leverenz as part of Senior Day.
“The traditional rivalry creates such an awesome atmosphere: The Cal Band is here, the Chancellor (Robert J. Birgeneau) came, and the men's team, the parents and a lot of young kids from the community were supporting us,” Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. “And we have beautiful weather – it couldn't get any better.
“We're moving into a really important part of the season, and the thing I'm most proud of is we're better than we were two weeks ago. I think, too, our depth – getting fourth instead of fifth and third instead of fourth – that shows that the next level of our athletes really did a nice job. What a way for Caitlin to end her career at home! Her determination to give it her all is really inspiring for her team and her coaches. We're going to miss her, but I'm happy for her as well. A lot of the younger athletes also continued to shine in Elizabeth Pelton, Rachel Bootsma, Rachael Acker and Kelly Naze; it was a really good day.”
The Bears got off to a great start when they won the medley relay, as the quartet of freshman Rachel Bootsma, Leverenz, junior Cindy Tran and freshman Rachael Acker posted a victorious time of 1:38.67.
Cal won five of the eight events before the first break and led at that point, 78.5-71.5. Those events included freshman Elizabeth Pelton winning the 200 freestyle in an NCAA provisional (NCAA B) qualifying time of 1:45.61, Leverenz taking the 100 breaststroke in an NCAA B time of 59.77, Bootsma clocking an NCAA B time of 1:57.66 to claim the 200 butterfly and junior diver Kahley Rowell posting a score of 285.15 to edge Stanford's Stephanie Phipps (284.33) for the win on the three-meter springboard.
The Bears won three of the next six events heading into the second break, and they led by a slim margin: 132.5-131.5. Those events included Pelton – who boasts the nation's fastest time (1:48.90, NCAA A) in the 200 backstroke – capturing her second individual event of the day by taking the 200 back in an NCAA B time of 1:54.72, Leverenz – the defending NCAA champ in the 200 breaststroke – winning the 200 breast in an NCAA B time of 2:10.07 and Bootsma also winning her second individual event in narrowly beating Stanford's Felicia Lee, 53.25-53.48, in the 100 fly.
Cal basically clinched the Big Meet in the next to last event when Leverenz – also the defending NCAA champ in the 200 IM – won the 200 IM in an NCAA B time of 1:57.14, Pelton placed second (NCAA B time of 1:59.25) and freshman Kelly Naze finished third (2:00.07, NCAA B). The Bears led 148.5-135.5 at that point, and barring a disqualification in the 400-freestyle relay, would have won the Big Meet even if they just placed third in the event.
The Bears took second place – with the quartet of Acker, Tran, Bootsma and Pelton posting an NCAA B time of 3:19.12 – and third place, with junior Mikkel-Ane Stipe, sophomore Kaylin Bing, sophomore Camille Cheng and sophomore co-captain Caroline Piehl clocking a time of 3:22.49, after the Cardinal win in an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 3:16.96.
Maya DiRado – one of Stanford's top swimmers – did not compete.
The win marked just the second time that Cal beat Stanford at home – the 2011 Big Meet was the first time – and just the sixth-time overall that the Golden Bears have won the Big Meet.
The meet was also the Bears' third on the Pac-12 Networks, which will air the broadcast – featuring former Cal star Natalie Coughlin as the color commentator – on Feb. 23.
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