Longhorns Gore Bears in First Loss of Season

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The Cal women's swimming team suffered its first setback of the season on Saturday.

Despite winning eight of the 16 events, the Bears (1-1) fell 156-144 to Texas in the first meet of the season at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The Longhorns were also competing without one of their top swimmers, junior Kathleen Hersey, who sat out for undisclosed reasons.

"We had some good and exciting moments, but overall we didn't swim as well as we need to," assistant coach Kristen Cunnane said. "As a team, we need to elevate the intensity level."

Cal junior Liv Jensen continued her strong start to the season, winning both the 50 free and 100 free with times of 22.45 and 49.41, respectively. Jensen also anchored the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay, both of which took first. All four of Jensen's swims resulted in NCAA B consideration times.

"Liv is again and again defining herself as one of the best sprinters in the nation. Every time she swims, we know that she has a great shot of getting her hand on the wall first," Cunnane said.

Sophomore standout Caitlin Leverenz, however, didn't fare as well as her teammate did. Leverenz, the school record holder in the 400 IM, was able to win the 400 IM, but was only able to manage second in the 100 breast and 200 breast, losing to Texas's Laura Sogar in both events. Neither race was close.

"Caitlin swam in some tough events (on Friday), and we wanted to see how she would perform with such little rest. In the long-run, it's going to be a good growing experience for her," Cunnane said.

Texas was propelled by a strong performance from junior Leah Gingrich, who won both the 1000 free and 200 fly. The Longhorns also benefitted from a solid showing from their diving team. Texas's Maren Taylor won both diving events, posting scores of 307.20 in the one-meter and 310.13 in the three-meter.

Despite the loss, Cal can take solace in the performance of one of its youngest swimmers. In the first collegiate duel meet of her career, freshman Cindy Tran won the 100 back with a time of 54.49. She also posted Cal's top finish in the 200 back, taking third with a time of 2:01.03. Texas's Katie Riefenstahl won the event in an NCAA B time of 1:58.44.

The senior class also turned in impressive meets, as seniors Hannah Wilson, Katie Kastes and Amanda Sims all posted NCAA B qualifying times. Kastes won the 500 free with a time of 4:51.33, and Sims took first in the 100 fly with a time of 54.09.

"Leadership is probably the biggest strength on our team. The senior class' leadership is going to be vital to us reaching our full potential," Cunnane said.

The Bears will have three weeks to regroup before they travel to Fort Collins, Colo., to take on Colorado State. Until then, they will have to use this meet as motivation as they continue their quest for a national championship.


Connor Byrne covers women's swimming. Contact him at [email protected]

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