Down Goes Stanford; California Ends 31-Year Conference Win Streak

FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 6. CALIFORNIA head coach Dave Durden, 37, was six the last time Stanford lost a conference championship. This evening, that 31-year-old streak came to an end at the hands of Durden's men from Berkeley as two-time defending NCAA champs California topped the Pacific 12 Championships.

Stanford's Drew Cosgarea raced to the title in the 1650-yard free, upending USC's Cristian Quintero, 14:49.71 to 14:51.85. Cosgarea lowered his lifetime best of 14:51.26 set at the 2012 NCAA Championships and moved just outside the top 40 all time in the event. Quintero has been much faster with a 14:45.78 from NCAAs last year on his resume. Stanford's Danny Thomson took third in 15:03.9 in what proved to be a big event for the Cardinal in team competition as the Cardinal closed to within a 610-570 deficit to California.

Quintero just missed history with his second-place finish in the mile. After already winning the 200 and 500 earlier in the meet, he was looking for the difficult 200-500-1650 sweep. According to USC super spokesperson Paul Goldberg, “Very few swimmers have completed the 200-500-1650 sweep in Pac-12 history. Washington's John Weston did it in 1978, but that was when the conference meet was split between Northern and Southern divisions and Weston's times were considerably slower than the winners in the south. Prior to that, the last person to sweep all three races was USC's Tom McBreen, who did it in 1972.”

Stanford had another big event as Dave Nolan clipped California's Jacob Pebley at the wall in the 200-yard back, 1:40.39 to 1:40.45, after coming home in 24.80. Both swims not only beat the NCAA A cut, they also downed Stanford volunteer assistant coach Eugene Godsoe's meet record of 1:40.51 from 2009. Nolan's top time in the event is a 1:39.74 from last year's NCAAs, so he has a bit more left in the tank. Pebley, however, lowered his best from a 1:40.79 at the 2011 Speedo Junior Short Course Championships. USC's Alex Lendrum rounded out the top three with a 1:42.39. Stanford's Matt Thompson (1:43.04), Matt Swanston (1:43.39) and Will Gunderson (1:44.40) collected some major points for the Cardinal as the team closed the gap behind California to 643-628.

Along with his 50 free win earlier in the week, USC's Vlad Morozov swept the sprint free events with a scorching 41.38 in the 100-yard free, splitting the race 19.78, 21.60. His time tonight beat Nathan Adrian's 2009 meet record of 41.64. That's the 11th consecutive year that a swimmer has swept both events. With his title defense of the event, Morozov is just the second Trojan to win the 100 two years in a row. The first was Erik Ran back in 1990-91, another great find by USC SID Paul Goldberg. Morozov's time tonight cleared his previous personal best of 41.86 from last year's Pac 12 Championships, and vaulted him to fourth all time in the event. Only Cesar Cielo (40.92), Adrian (41.08) and Matt Grevers (41.35) have been faster.

Stanford's Aaron Wayne placed second in 42.48, while USC's Jack Wagner (43.10) and Dimitri Colupaev (43.26) finished third and fourth. Andrew Saeta also earned some big points for Stanford with a fifth-place 43.33. The Cardinal continued their epic run at tracking down California, cutting the advantage to 673-662.

NCAA and American record holder Kevin Cordes of Arizona left plenty in the tank as he won the 200-yard breast in 1:52.96. He owns the top time in history with a scintillating 1:50.73 from just a few months ago at the Winter Nationals in November. California countered the furious Cardinal charge in a big way in this event as Josh Prenot (1:53.63) and Trevor Hoyt (1:53.76) took second and third, each under the NCAA A cut. Christian Higgins also placed sixth in 1:55.14 compared to Stanford's Mason Shaw earning seventh in 1:56.35. The Golden Bears pushed their lead back out to 719-674 after the breaststroke event. Surprisingly, Stanford's Robert Hommel, who had the chance to score some depth points for the Cardinal after qualifying 13th, scratched the B final.

California potentially closed the door on Stanford's chances for an epic comeback bid in the 200-yard fly as Tom Shields crushed the field with a 1:41.23 NCAA A cut. That time finished just a second back of his second-ranked lifetime best of 1:40.24. Only the Greatest of All Time Michael Phelps has been faster with a 1:39.65. Golden Bear teammates Will Hamilton (1:44.55), Austin Brown (1:45.33) and Ben Hinshaw (1:46.05) took third, sixth and seventh. Meanwhile, Stanford's Tom Kremer (1:44.54), Gray Umbach (1:44.64) and Mac Montgomery (1:44.89) earned second, fourth and fifth. Notably, Arizona State's Alex Coci rocked the B final with a 1:43.72 that would have placed second in the championship heat. California extended its advantage to 780-728.

During diving, that took place last week along with the women's meet, Arizona's Rafael Quintero topped the platform event with 399.90 points. Stanford's Kristian Ipsen, who had won the one and three-meter events, took second with 398.40 points. Arizona State's Harrison Jones earned third-place honors with 392.00 points. Heading into relays, California led Stanford, 797-766.

It seemed fitting that California would lead Stanford by 31 points heading into the final relay. What would give first? 31 points, or 31 years? With nearly half-a-second relay starts, California managed a safe relay to topple the Cardinal, 825-800.

USC won its first 400-yard free relay conference title since 1979 with a 2:48.66 as Cristian Quintero (42.80), Dimitri Colupaev (42.29), Jack Wagner (42.76) and Vlad Morozov (40.81). Morozov cemented himself as one of the top college sprinters this weekend, with blistering times throughout the 50 and 100 free distances. Stanford's Dave Nolan (43.03), Aaron Wayne (42.03), Tom Kremer (43.08) and Andrew Saeta (43.04) posted a 2:51.18 for second, but not enough to catch the Golden Bears. Arizona's Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or (43.62), Giles Smith (42.93), Mitchell Friedemann (43.43) and Woody Joye (43.94) took third in 2:53.92 as the top three teams all scored NCAA A cuts.

California's Fabio Gimondi (43.57), Seth Stubblefield (44.04, +.50 RT), Marcin Tarczynski (44.02/+60 RT) and Tom Shields (43.39/+.30 RT) took fifth in 2:55.02. Contrast those ultra-safe relay starts to the +.01 exhibited by USC's Colupaev.

Team Scores
California 825
Stanford 800
Southern California 638.5
Arizona 483
Utah 290.5
Arizona State 257
UC Santa Barbara 230
Cal Poly 112