Leverenz Shines, Cal Takes Second at Pac-10s

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Heading into the final event of the Pac-10 Championships, the Cal women's swimming team needed to take first and finish at least two spots ahead of Stanford in order to surpass the Cardinal in the standings.

Cal's A squad did take the top spot in the 400 freestyle relay with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 3:13.83, but the Cardinal managed to hang on to second, clinching the Pac-10 title.

The No. 4 Bears took second at the Pac-10 conference meet in Federal Way, Wash., edged out by No. 1 Stanford by 22 points (1567.5-1545.5). Sixth-ranked USC took third with 1309.5 to round out an identical top three from 2010.

"We came up a little short, but that'll keep us focused on what we need to do," coach Teri McKeever said on CalBears.com. "It's like a dual meet - sometimes you get 'em and sometimes you don't."

Cal managed to take three individual titles and four relay crowns en route to its third straight top two finish in the Pac-10. Prior to 2008, the Bears had never finished higher than third. Cal was in the lead after the first and third days of competition.

"We definitely surprised some people," McKeever said. "With this big freshman class, it was important for them to get through it and get a better understanding of what they need to do as they become returners as next year."

Among those freshmen was Cindy Tran, who set a meet record in the 100 back (51.22) with her first-place finish, and took ninth in the 200 back, clocking the sixth fastest time in school history (1:55.13). Freshman Stephanie Au took second in the same event with the fifth-fastest time (1:54.96) in Cal history.

But it was sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, the 2010 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, who came up the biggest for the Bears. Leverenz broke her own school record in the 400 IM (4:02.72) with a third-place finish, and came within one hundredth of a second of Natalie Coughlin's 200 IM school record. Her second-place finish (1:54.97) and captured her first individual Pac-10 crown in the 200 breaststroke (2:07.45).

Junior Liv Jensen set a program record in the 50 free (21.73), taking first. Jensen also anchored the second-place 200 freestyle relay and swam on three other winning relays.

Cal benefited from a strong performance from its diving team, highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the platform by freshman Kahley Rowell, who finished with an NCAA zonal qualifying score of 250.15.

"The divers did a nice job too," McKeever said. "That's a piece of our program we've been trying to move in the right direction, and they did that tonight and this whole meet."

The Bears will be back in action in three weeks when they travel to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Championships. Though Cal isn't considered a threat to contend for a title, it will look to surprise its critics once again.


Contact Connor Byrne at [email protected]

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