Swimming: Bears shine at Olympic trials

Ex-Cal star Dana Vollmer broke her own American record in the 100-yard butterfly semifinals and senior-to-be Caitlin Leverenz earned an Olympic bid in the 400 individual medley on the first day of the U.S. Olympic swim trials at Omaha, Neb.

Vollmer swam 56.42 seconds to trim .05 seconds off her AR in the semifinals of the 100 fly. Cal legend Natalie Coughlin, winner of 11 Olympic medals, was fourth in the same race at 58.27. The top two finishers in Tuesday night’s final will go to London.

Leverenz already has punched her ticket in the 400 IM, swimming 4:34.48 to finish second.


Track and field: Ex-Cal star Montano on Oly team

Former Cal star Alysia (Johnson) Montano earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic track team with a victory in the 800 meters at the trials in Eugene, Ore.

Montano took the lead from the start and won wire-to-wire in a time of 1:59.08. Gina Gall was second at 1:59.24 and Alice Schmidt third at 1:59.48.

Montano, a 2008 Cal grad, earned her fourth national title in the event — and her most important one. She’s going to London.

Montano made the team four years after suffering a foot injury at the trials.

“I’m super-duper elated,” Montano said. “Four years ago I was lying on this track after the first round. My whole mentality is to be brave and have heart. When I’m out there giving it my everything, I’m prepared to run a really, really fast time.”

Meanwhile, ex-Cal star Ed Wright gave the favorites a scare in the high jump before finishing fifth at 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches.

Cal senior Deborah Maier and 38-year-old Cal grad Magdalena Lewy Boulet, a 2008 Olympic marathoner, both advanced to the final of the women’s 5,000. Maier was fifth in her semifinal heat in 1n a school-record time of 15:43.43 and Lewy Boulet was seventh in the second heat at 15:51.73.

Cal alum Tracey Stewart wound up sixth in the triple jump final with a best mark of  43-2 1/2.



A break for summer vacation

Hoops are a memory. Spring sports are over. Football season will be here before we know it.

In the meantime, I’m off for a bit of vacation with the family.

I’ll tell you all about it upon my return. Hope all of you find some time to exhale and recharge.

And try to get along with each other while I’m gone.



Track and field: Maier third at NCAA meet

Cal junior Deborah Maier placed third in the 10,000 meter-run at the NCAA track and field championships at Des Moines, Iowa.

Maier, who earlier this year recorded the No. 3 all-time collegiate mark in the event, crossed in 32 minutes, 47.20 seconds. Her finishing spot matches the highest by a Cal woman in the 10,000 at the NCAA meet.

Meanwhile, freshman Harrison Steed finished eighth in the high jump with a Cal career high clearance of 7 feet, 2 1/2 inches. Theh highest-placing freshman in the event, Steed moved to No. 9 on Cal’s all-time high jump list.




Cal Hall of Fame: Lamond Murray, Jocelyn Forest headline seven-member induction class

Lamond Murray, one of the greatest scorers in Cal basketball history, and Jocelyn Forest, who pitched the Bears to the 2002 softball College World Series title, leads the latest class of inductees into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Other newcomers are Haley Cope (swimming) Mike Harrison (baseball),  Bruce Kennedy (track and field), Anne Walker (golf) and Stu Gordon (service award). Here are details on the Cal website.

Murray, who came to Cal from Kennedy HS in Fremont the year before Jason Kidd arrived, is perhaps the second-best scorer I’ve seen at Cal (behind Shareef Abdur-Rahim). Murray left Cal after three seasons as the Bears’ No. 1 career scorer (1,688) and remains No. 4 on the all-time list.

Teamming with Kidd in 1992-93, Murray helped power the Bears to an upset of two-time defending NCAA champ Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament. He went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA.


Softball: No. 1 Bears eliminated by Tide

Cal softball coach Diane Ninemire has said her 2012 Golden Bears are the most talented team she’s coached in 25 years. She also said it remained to be seen whether they could match the 2002 squad, which won the school’s only NCAA championship in the sport.

The top-seeded Bears (58-7) came up short of that goal Sunday, losing 5-2 to No. 2 seed Alabama (58-7) in an elimination game at the College World Series.

Cal’s dream season is over, three wins shy of their goal.

The Crimson Tide hit three home runs off Jolene Henderson (38-4), who was the best pitcher in the Pac-12 all season but was not at her best in Oklahoma City.

Freshman Danielle Henderson hit a two-run homer for the Bears — her 16th — but Cal got just one other hit.

In fact, the Bears’ offense failed to do its part in both CWS defeats, totaling four hits against Oklahoma and Alabama. The Bears averaged 3.25 runs in four CWS games, less than half its season output.

Senior slugger Valerie Arioto, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, drew seven walks at the Series, but otherwise was 0 for 7 at the plate.

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Oklahoma (53-8) posted a 5-3 win over No. 3 Arizona State, eliminating the Sun Devils and denying the Pac-12 a spot in the championship series for the first time after 26 years.

 — RUGBY: The Bears won the bronze medal at the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s tournament in Philadelphia. Cal beat Life University 26-7 at PPL Park in the third-place game after losing 21-19 to Dartmouth in the semifinals. The Bears opened the day with a 54-5 win over Texas in the quarterfinals.

The Bears finished the tournament with a 5-1 record and a plus-130 scoring margin.


Track and field: Ex-Bear David Torrence races to USA-leading mile at Prefontaine Classic

David Torrence, who five years ago broke a 50-year-old Cal record in the mile, ran a personal-best time of 3 minutes, 52.01 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., climbing to the top of the 2012 U.S. leaders list.

Torrence finished just ninth in the super-quick field, topped by Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop in 3:49.40. How fast was the race? The first 10 finishers now rank 1 through 10 on the world season list.

Torrence’s time also moves him to No. 18 on the all-time U.S. list.

More importantly, he beat all of the top American runners he will face in three weeks at Eugene in the U.S. Olympic trials. Leonel Manzano finished 12th, Bernard Lagat 14th, Lopez Lomong 15th and Andrew Wheating 16th.

A top-3 finish at the trials will earn Torrence a spot at the London Olympics.


Softball: Bears top Ducks, must beat Alabama twice to reach College World Series finals

Jace Williams hit a 3-run homer in the first inning and top-seeded Cal never blinked in a 6-3 elimination win over Pac-12 rival Oregon (45-18), knocking the Ducks out of the College World Series and keeping the Bears alive at Oklahoma City.

Cal (58-7) must beat No. 2 seed Alabama (57-7) twice Sunday to earn a spot in the best-of-three championship series, beginning Monday. Sunday’s first game begins at 12:30 p.m. PDT.

Britt Vonk doubled in two runs in the second and Victoria Jones hit a solo homer in the fourth inning, pushing the Bears’ lead to 6-1.

Jolene Henderson (38-3) went the distance for Cal, scattering six hits and striking out nine.

— MEN’S GOLF: The Bears’ seaon ended after losing 3-2 to top-seeded Alabama in the semifinals of the NCAA championships at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

Max Homa and Michael Kim posted wins for the Bears.


Track and field: Ex-Cal star Montano blazes at Pre

Cal grad Alysia Montano (Alysia Johnson before being married in 2011) ran the second-fastest time in the world this season to win the 800 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

On the same Hayward Field track where she will compete at the Olympic trials in three weeks, Montano ran 1 minute, 57.37 seconds in her season debut in the rain to beat the best American runners by a decisive margin of almost 2 seconds.

Her time was a Pre Classic record and a track record at a facility that has known some fast times.

“I feel great. It was a really nice run. I am so excited of things to come. I feel great about where things are at right now,” Montano said. “I actually appreciated the fact that it did rain. It’s just like London weather. I have so much motivation right now.”

Her mark was just .03 seconds off her two-year-old personal best and ranks her No. 2 in the world for 2012, behind only Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo (1:56.94).