Cal Relays Build Toward NCAAs With Sweep at Pac-12 Championships

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Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

The Cal team of Robin Neumann, Katie McLaughlin, Amy Bilquist, and Abbey Weitzeil did the unthinkable Saturday night and took down the 2017 NCAA record in the 400 free relay set by Stanford’s dream team of Olympians Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal as well as national champion Janet Hu.

Coming into the night, Cal was focused on winning the relay to cement their sweep of the relays at the 2019 Women’s Pac-12 Championships. No one was expecting to see the NCAA record fall but the Bears stunned the crowd by clocking a 3:07.41, lowering the previous mark of 3:07.61. 

After the race, Abbey Weitzeil said, “I’m super stoked about that relay. Our goal was just to go out there and sweep the relays, and we did.”

The relay sweeps ending with a NCAA record by the Cal team gives them huge momentum as they head into NCAAs later this month. 

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Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Stanford’s overall Pac-12 victory was expected, but the sweep of not only the medley relays but of all the relays is the headline story of the meet as this sets Cal up for a potential upset at NCAAs, toppling Stanford’s reign.

Cal’s momentum is crucial as this is the year they could potentially win it all before they lose many of their strong seniors including Bilquist, McLaughlin and Jenna Campbell. 

The seniors have been a leading force to the Cal team this year. “I think this relay was a great way to end my senior year at Pac-12s, and I just couldn’t ask for a better group of ladies to be by my side on this relay,” Bilquist said.

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Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

The team chemistry and focus on NCAAs has been a focal point.

“I think this relay shows what we’ve done as a team this week. We have come together and have really shown who Cal is and we’re looking forward to NCAAs,” Neumann said.

Weitzeil reiterated that the entire Cal team really stepped up to the blocks this week which bodes well for a possible Cal upset in a few weeks.  

The hard work is paying off for the Bears, but McLaughlin might have the secret to their continued success when she talked about what has fueled them on this week: “The best thing we’ve done this week is to have fun as a team. So, we’re going to keep rolling with that, having fun and enjoying each other throughout the next few weeks.”

If Cal’s enthusiasm and relay dominance continues, it could lead the Bears to an NCAA Championship.

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Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

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