California Men Show Depth Against Stanford In Triple-Distance Dual Meet

Prenot J 2013 US Nats 1777
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The men of California and Stanford met for their annual Triple-Distance dual meet, where athletes raced in one stroke across three distances. The Golden Bears claimed the top swimmers in five of the six disciplines, while Stanford reigned in the distance freestyle. The meet was unscored, but gave the Bay Area rivals some key racing opportunities.

California press release:
Using a triple distance format that based winners off the cumulative times of three separate swims, the Cal men’s swimming team claimed five wins from the six different types of swimming contested against rival Stanford.

The meet, which also featured a pair of relay swims that the teams split, gave each swimmer a chance to swim three different distances in any one stroke. Sophomore Justin Lynch claimed the butterfly title with the best cumulative time between the 50, 100 and 200-yard races while teammate Jacob Pebley won the backstroke and junior Ryan Murphy took the sprint freestyle. Freshman Ken Takahashi rallied in the 400 individual medley to win the IM title and Stanford’s Danny Thomson won the distance freestyle.

“I’m a little bit disappointed that we lost the last relay and we didn’t win the distance category. We’ve got to get better. That’s kind of the big takeaway,” Cal head coach David Durden said. “We’ve got to get better in those areas and better overall so that we’re not in positions like that where we lose a relay or lose a category over the course of three events. Middle of the week is always hard to get up for and this style of racing is always difficult if you’re not putting the effort and intensity into every single swim. So, we’ve got to clean that up before we get to Friday (against NC State).”

The Bears got some familiar swims from familiar faces Wednesday, with Lynch, Pebley and Murphy continuing to show their good early season form. Lynch got off to a good start with a win in the 50 butterfly, then added on to his lead by edging teammate Long Gutierrez in the 100. Stanford won the 200 but Lynch’s lead was large enough to bring home the overall title.

In the backstroke, Pebley swam to second in the 50 but won the 100 to get back in the hunt. He made his biggest move in the 200, winning by over five seconds with a time of 1:43.80. And, while Pebley swam the backstroke, Murphy focused his attention on the freestyle where he won the 50, placed second by just two-hundreths of a second in the 100 and finished second to teammate Trent Williams in the 200 to win that discipline.

The Bears rolled to a one-two-three finish in the breaststroke with a trio led by Hoppe, who won all three races en route to the overall title. Carson Sand and Hunter Cobleigh weren’t too far off, challenging their teammate over the course of all three races.

Perhaps the biggest move of the day came from Takahashi, who rallied to win the IM event in impressive fashion. Stanford split a pair of wins in the 100 and 200 between Gray Umbach and Curtis Ogren but Takahashi stayed close enough that a strong closing freestyle leg in the 400 made all the difference as the freshman from Irvine, Calif. won the final race in 3:51.96 and edged Ogren for the overall title by four hundreths of a second.

“I thought he did a nice job through all three of the swims,” Durden said. “Yuri (Suguiyama) and I joked with him ‘hey, when was the last time you swam that’ and he said when he was 12. That’s one of the very few times you get to race that and he had fun with it. He did a nice job with the end of his races. If you look at the Utah meet and the last 100 of his 400 IM, the freestyle portion, he just wasn’t getting home. Both in the 200 and 400, he got home on his freestyle, got home well and got home against a really good swimmer in Curtis Ogren. He stepped up to the challenge and performed and raced really well.”

Cal jumps back in the pool on Friday to host NC State in what should be a highly competitive dual meet beginning at 3 p.m. That will be the final home meet of the 2015 calendar year for the Bears, who will swim at the Georgia Invitational in December before turning their attention to the spring season.

Stanford press release:

2015 California vs Stanford Men Triple Distance Dual Meet – Results