LONG BEACH, Calif. – Strong performances, including victories by Liv Jensen and Caitlin Leverenz, propelled second-ranked California to the championship of the Arena Invitational at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. Jensen, a senior, captured the 100-yard freestyle, while Leverenz, a junior, won the 200-yard breaststroke. The Golden Bears collected 989 points to defeat second-place and No. 23 Arizona State (865.5 points), third-place and No. 7 Stanford (812) and the rest of the field at the end of the three-day meet.
This marked Leverenz’s second individual victory at the Arena Invitational; she won the 200-yard individual medley on Nov. 17 and also took second in the 400 IM on Nov. 18.
The Arena Invitational provided the defending NCAA champion with the chance to familiarize its swimmers, particularly its nine freshmen, with competing on consecutive days at a meet with morning preliminaries and nightly finals — conditions the Bears will face at the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA Championships.
“It was a very solid weekend of racing,” Cal head coach Teri McKeever said. “It was great to walk through a three-day championship format with this team. We learned a lot about our strengths and about what we need to work on. Caitlin was exceptional. Liv was good and key on relays. It was a great opportunity for the freshmen to learn about what will be required of them. We get to do it all again in Georgia.”
In Long Beach, Cal sat in second place behind then-leader Stanford to start the final day. But the Bears capped their team victory by taking second place in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last final of the night. Senior Sara Isakovic, Jensen, freshman Camille Cheng and senior Katherine Raatz swam an NCAA B qualifying time of 3:19.68 for the Bears.
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Leverenz clocked an automatic NCAA qualifying and meet-record time of 2:09.23 to win the 200 breaststroke, with freshman Yvette Kong winning the consolation final and taking ninth overall with an NCAA B qualifying time of 2:13.91.
Jensen posted an NCAA B qualifying time of 48.96 to take the 100 free; her victory pushed Cal past Stanford on the meet scoreboard and gave the Bears a lead they never relinquished. Fellow senior Sara Isakovic clocked an NCAA B cut of 1:57.79 in Cal’s best finish — third place — in the 200-yard butterfly.
In the 200 backstroke, sophomore Cindy Tran collected an NCAA B time of 1:59.05 to take 18th place, though freshman Melanie Klaren placed seventh (1:59.32) to notch Cal’s best finish.
Freshman Taylor Nanfria swam a time of 17:13.24 to take 18th in the 1650 freestyle.