Olympic trials: Hardy wins 100 free, Coughlin sneaks onto Olympic roster for relay spot

Ex-Cal star Jessica Hardy won the 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic trials and Natalie Coughlin found a spot on her third Olympic team with a sixth-place finish that earns her a spot in the 400 free relay rotation.

Hardy won in 53.96 seconds, beating Missy Franklin by 0.19 seconds. Coughlin, who earlier missed chances to make the team in the 100 back and 100 butterfly, was sixth in 54.44. Only the top two finishers will swim the 100 free in London, but the top six gain relay spots.

Meanwhile, Cal senior Tom Sheilds was third in the semifinals of the 100 free, clocking 51.89. Michael Phelps, celebrating his 27th birthday, had the fastest qualifying time into Sunday’s final with a 51.35 effort.

Cal grads Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian were the two fastest semifinal qualifiers in the 50 free, swimming 21.74 and 21.81, respectively.





Olympic trials: Ex-Golden Bear Nathan Adrian swims to 100 free title and London bid

Cal grad Nathan Adrian, fourth in the 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic swim trials four years ago, posted a victory Friday night at Omaha, Neb., to earn a bid to the London Games.

Adrian won in 48.10 seconds against a field of competitors that included the top five finishers in this event in 2008.

Meanwhile, Cal legend Natalie Coughlin kept alive her hopes of earning a spot in her third Olympics. She was among three ex-Bears who qualified for Saturday’s final in the women’s 100 free.

Coughlin was seventh in the semifinal, swimming 54.48. Jessica Hardy and Dana Vollmer qualified fourth and fifth, swimming 54.27 and 54.43, respectively.

TRACK AND FIELD: Cal grad David Torrence easily qualified into Sunday’s 1,500-meter final at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. Torrence led through much of his slow-paced semifinal before settling for third place in 3:51.43.


Olympic trials: Leverenz wins 200 IM for second London bid; Cal runners fall short in 5,000 final

Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz earned her second bid to the London Olympics, winning the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. trials at Omaha, Neb. Leverenz, who earlier won the 400 IM, touched in 2 minutes, 10.22 seconds.

Former Cal star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian was the fastest qualifier in the 100 freestyle semifinals. Adrian, who won gold in the 100 free at Beijing, swam 48.33 seconds to advance to Friday’s final.

Cal grad Anthony Ervin, who won gold in the 50 free at Athens in 2004, was 13th overall in the 100 free semifinals at 49.46, and did not advance.

Another Cal alum, Dana Vollmer, was third in the 200 free finale, missing an Olympic bid by one spot. She swam 1:57.47 in a race won by Allison Schmitt in an American-record time of 1:54.40. Vollmer already has qualified for the London Games by winning the 100 butterfly.

TRACK AND FIELD: Magdalena Lewy Boulet, the 38-year-old Cal grad and 2008 Olympic marathoner, finished 11th in the 5,000-meter final at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. She ran 15:34.31 to finish two spots ahead of Cal senior-to-be Deborah Maier (15:37.56).

Ex-Cal star David Torrence advanced to the semifinals of the 1,500, finishing second in his heat with a time of 3:41.99.


Swimming: Another trials miss for Coughlin

Cal legend Natalie Coughlin came up short again Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, Neb.

The 29-year-old finished third in the 100-meter backstroke — her signature event — missing a ticket to the London Games by one spot.

Making it a harder swallow still, 17-year-old Missy Franklin won the event in 58.85 seconds — breaking Coughlin’s American and U.S. trials records in the process. Rachel Bootsma, an 18-year-old who will attend Cal beginning next fall, was second in 59.49.

Coughlin, who was seventh in the 100 butterfly final the night before, touched third in this one in 1:00.06 — more than a second slower than she swam four years ago at Beijing, where she defended her Olympic gold medal in the event.

Franklin said she hopes Coughlin still finds her way onto the U.S. team.

“She is my biggest role model. She has accomplished so much,” Franklin told NBC. “She still has so many more shots to make the team. I hope she does because I really would love to be on the team with her.”

Coughlin swim in preliminary heats of the 100 freestyle — her final event — on Friday morning.

Ex-Cal swimmer Jessica Hardy also missed an Olympic bid by one spot, finishing third in the 100 breast in 1:06.53 — a half-second shy of a trip to London.

The news was better for Cal sophomore-to-be Caitlin Leverenz, who had the fastest semifinal time in the 200 individual medley at 2:10.51. The final is Thursday.  On Monday, Leverenz earned a London Olympics bid with a runnerup performance in the 400 IM final.

Dana Vollmer, another ex-Cal star, qualified third into Thursday’s final of the 200 free in 1:57.81.

Tom Shields, star of Cal’s NCAA men’s championship team, had the ninth best time in the semifinals of the 200 butterfly, missing a spot in the final by one place. He swam 1:58.75.



Swimming: A tough day for Cal legend Coughlin

Former Cal star Dana Vollmer won the 100-meter butterly at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, but 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin had a rough day.

Coughlin finished just seventh in the 100 fly — more than a full second out of second place, necessary to earn a bid to the London Games. Vollmer won in 56.50 seconds — just off the American record of 56.42 she set in Monday’s semifinals. Coughlin touched in 58.66.

Perhaps just as telling — Coughlin was just seventh later in the evening in the semifinals of the 100 backstroke, her signature event.

The 29-year-old advanced to Wednesday’s final, but her time of 1:00.63 is far from her four-year-old American record of 58.94.

In the final, Coughlin will chase young talent, starting with 17-year-old Missy Franklin, the fastest semifinal qualifier at 59.06. Rachel Bootsma, 18, was second at 59.10, Olivia Smoliga, 17, next at 59.82, and Elizabeth Pelton, 18, fourth at 1:00.31.

Bootsma and Pelton will swim at Cal as freshmen next season.

Coughlin will test herself against those young swimmers — and father time itself — with an Olympic bid on the line Wednesday night.


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.



Baseball: Bears fall at Stanford in season finale

One year after dodging program extinction and making an unlikely run to the College World Series, the Cal baseball team closed its regular season with a  5-3 road loss to No. 14 Stanford.

The Bears (29-25, 12-18 Pac-12), despite winning two of three games at Stanford this weekend, are considered a longshot to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

Chadd Krist went 2 for 3 with his 65 career double — an ongoing school record — for the Bears. Mitch Delfino homered in the loss.

— WOMEN’S SOCCER: Ex-Cal star Alex Morgan was officially named to the U.S. Olympic team which will try to win its third straight gold medal this summer in London.

— WOMEN’S CREW: The top-ranked Cal women’s squad wound up third for the second straight season at the NCAA championships at Mercer Lake at West Winsor, N.J. Virginia won the title.

–WOMEN’S TENNIS: Freshman Zsofi Susanyi, ranked 13th in the NCAA, was ousted from the NCAA singles tournament atter a 6-2, 6-2 loss to fifth-ranked Mallory Burdette of Stanford. Susanyi, from Hungary, finished the year with a record of 41-8.



Track and Field: Ex-Cal star David Torrence runs Olympic “A” standard for 1,500 meters

Former Cal middle-distance running star and East Bay resident David Torrence has cleared a huge obstacle in his quest for a spot in the London Olympics.

Torrence, 26, achieved the Olympic “A” qualifying standard in the 1,500 meters on Friday, clocking a time of 3 minutes, 35.41 seconds at the Occidental College High-Performance Meet in Los Angeles.

Torrence needed to run faster than 3:35.50 to get the “A” mark, which means that he now qualifies for London if he secures a top-3 finish in the event at the U.S. trials next month in Eugene.

It’s a big deal, because often events such as the 1,500 become slower, tactical races at the trials as athlete compete for positions more than times. So getting the “A” standard at the trials is less likely. Now it’s out of the way for Torrence.

For those who don’t pay attention to track, his 1,500 time translates to 3:52.64 for the mile. Pretty fast.

Torrence burst onto the scene as a Cal junior in 2007 when he ran 3:58.62 to break Don Bowden’s 50-year-old school record in the mile. In 1957, Bowden became the first American to break the 4-minute mile.


Rugby: Why Bears won’t play for national title

BYU and Arkansas State will play Saturday night for the national collegiate rugby title that Cal has won 26 of the past 32 years.

Here’s why the Bears passed on the chance to pocket another title this season.

— Water polo: Two former Cal stars were named to the U.S. Olympic women’s water polo team. Heather Petri, 33, a former All-America star at Cal and Miramonte HS grad, was named to her fourth Olympic team. And ex-Cal star Elsie Windes has earned a spot on her second Olympic roster.

— Track and field: Courtesy of “Bring Back the Mile,” here’s a 4-minute interview with former Cal middle-distance star David Torrence, a contender for the London Olympics.