Cardinal men swim to their first Pac-12 title in four years


Big wins by Liam Egan and Sam Perry and an all-around team effort propelled Stanford to its first Pac-12 Conference Championship since 2012 on Saturday night.

"The team showed great respect for the process needed for this week's performance," said Stanford coach Ted Knapp. "They were determined to send the seniors off with a championship and convey a message to our alumni that we are striving to compete as they did for so long."

The championship, Stanford's first since Knapp took full charge of the program in 2013, is the 63rd such title in program history. The Cardinal earned top-three finishes in 12 of 18 individual events, winning three, and had a podium finish in each of the three diving events.

"After last year's meet, we took the time to refocus on what made us successful in the past," said Stanford co-captain Sean Duggan. "We swam this year's meet for the guy on either side of us. This season's success is a testament to how close our team is and our willingness to work hard for each other."

Stanford's title bid was given a huge boost in the first event of the evening session, the 1,650-yard freestyle. After finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday night, Liam Egan (14:44.85) shaved more than 20 seconds off of his prelim time to win the event.

"We really needed to put the nail in the coffin to avoid what happened last year," said Egan. "I feel like I did exactly what my teammates would have done for me."

Danny Thomson (14:52.12), who finished third in the 500 free, also took third place in the 1,650 free, lengthening the Cardinal's lead on the field.

"Liam and Danny are among those with the absolute best workout ethic and you love to see the payoff like we did tonight," added Knapp.

In the 200-yard backstroke, Patrick Conaton (1:41.01) took second place with Ryan Arata (1:41.90) not far behind in fifth.

Sam Perry (42.72) then won his second sprint freestyle event of the championship, the 100-yard freestyle. Cole Cogswell (43.54) was also in the final, finishing seventh.

"My tactic in the 100 free tonight was just to go out hard and hang on," said Perry. "I knew the field would be strong on the back half so I tried to get as far out in front as I could and hold them off."

In the B-final, Spencer DeShon (43.39), Connor Black (43.46), Jeff Garnier (43.97) and Sean Duggan (44.05) picked up more points, solidifying Stanford's advantage on the field.

Matt Anderson (1:54.77) came up huge with a second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke, while Curtis Ogren (1:57.07) pitched in from the B-final.

Stanford had three more finalists in the 200-yard butterfly. Gray Umbach (1:44.37) finished fifth, Jimmy Yoder (1:44.44) took sixth and Abrahm DeVine (1:45.29) placed eighth.

In the final swim of the championship, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Stanford's team of Perry, Cogswell, Black and DeShon (2:52.04) took second place, more than enough to wrap up the win for the Cardinal.

Stanford's divers, who equaled USC's 127 points on the week, contributed in a big way with Ted Miclau (420.20) finishing second and Tarek Abdelghany (289.35) eighth in the platform. Bradley Christensen (310.65) and Connor Kuremsky (283.65) also contributed points with their prelim scores.

"A very big thank you to our diving coach Patrick Jeffrey and his four divers is also in order," said Knapp. "We are hoping to get them to NCAA's through the zone championships next week."

The Cardinal finished the meet with 808 points, well ahead of USC (700), Cal (628), Arizona (569), Arizona State (402) and Utah (295).

"I've never been part of a team with such an even point spread, top to bottom," added Perry. "Everyone did their job, and in the end it was enough to get the win. Pac-12's were a big motivator for us throughout the year, and we knew we could do it, so it was really satisfying to make our supporters and ourselves proud."

Umbach was also honored at the conclusion of the meet as the 2016 Pac-12 Men's Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Up next for the Cardinal is the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in Flagstaff, Ariz., March 7-9, which will determine Stanford's diving entrants in the NCAA Championships.

Stanford returns to racing March 24-26 for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.

— Stanford Athletics

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