FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 8. THE University of California men’s swimming and diving team successfully defended their Pac-12 Championship, wrapping up the victory tonight on the final day of racing. Stanford, who had won the previous 31 conference titles until last year, finished second, while the University of Southern California took third.
The fourth and final night of competition at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center got underway in exciting fashion with a close battle in the longest event, the 1650 free. After holding consistent 27s throughout the race and staying in contact with the top swimmers, Utah’s Bence Kiraly threw down an insane final split of 24.40 to surge into the lead and take the win in 14:58.37. Kiraly’s last split was only .09 slower than his first 50; no other swimmers even cleared 26 for the final two lengths. Cal Poly’s Sonny Fierro, who earlier in the meet made the top eight in the 500, upgraded to third in the mile with a 15:00.97, just a hair ahead of Cal’s Adam Hinshaw (15:01.04).
The excitement continued in the 200 back where three heavyweight 200 backstrokers in Jacob Pebley (Cal), Dave Nolan (Stanford) and Ryan Murphy (Cal) battled for supremacy and valuable team points. Murphy, a freshman, built the race and emerged victorious in 1:39.21, breaking the meet record of 1:40.39 set by Nolan last year. Pebley stayed in contact for the first 100 but couldn’t hold on, touching second and giving Cal a 1-2 finish with a 1:40.38. Nolan rounded out the top three in 1:40.60.
Utah then pulled out another win, this time in the 100 free. Top qualifier Nick Soedel, who broke 42 this morning with a 41.97, was the class of the field in finals, touching in 42.00 to beat USC’s Cristian Quintero by almost half a second (42.47). Cal’s Seth Stubblefield, the runner-up in the 50 free, finished third in 42.63.
As expected, Arizona breaststroke ace Kevin Cordes had no trouble demolishing the field and the meet record in the 200 breast. Cordes, who posted a stunning 1:48.68 to set the American record last season, finished well off that time but still cracked his own meet record from prelims with a 1:51.80. Cal’s Josh Prenot pulled away to take second in 1:54.37, while Arizona’s Sam Rowan gave Arizona a 1-3 finish with his 1:55.30.
The Arizona State Sun Devils joined the winner’s circle as senior Alex Coci, the sixth-place qualifier this morning, surged to an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:42.97. Coci just held off a trio of Cal swimmers, as Will Hamilton (1:43.13), Long Gutierrez (1:43.64) and Marcin Tarczynski (1:43.75) were right on his heels.
In platform diving, which took place last weekend, Arizona State’s Luke Clohessy had the top score at 455.20, followed by Arizona’s Rafael Quintero (424.95) and Stanford’s Kristian Ipsen (421.60).
USC took home the victory in the final event on the schedule, the 400 free relay. Cristian Quintero (42.48), Dylan Carter (43.04), Jack Wagner (43.49) and Dimitri Colupaev (42.94) brought home the win in 2:51.95. Arizona, led by Brad Tandy (42.63), Brian Stevens (43.13), Giles Smith (43.13) and Mitchell Friedemann (43.46) finished four-tenths back in 2:52.35. Utah’s foursome of Nick Soedel (42.14), Jonas Holmstrom (43.69), Alex Fernandes (44.08) and Ken Tiltges (43.50) rounded out the top three in 2:53.41.
Cal finished the meet with 786 points, ahead of Stanford (661) and USC (621). Arizona (596), Utah (306), Arizona State (287), UC Santa Barbara (178) and Cal Poly (157) made up the rest of the field.