With Olympic swimming stars shining for both sides once again, Team USA did its best to catch up to the Pac-12 in Sunday’s conclusion of the USA College Challenge but the college all-stars prevailed, winning the second-ever exhibition meet, 326.5-286.5.
The Pac-12 won 10 events on Saturday night to take a 155-141 lead into Sunday’s second and final day of the dual-meet competition, in which several Olympians, including Katie Ledecky and Abby Weitzel, lined up on the side of the colleges.
The day started out with Stanford sophomore Ledecky easily winning the women’s 1,000-meter freestyle in 9:11.68, ahead of Arizona’s Hannah Cox in second in 9:32.24 as the Pac-12 increased its lead to 170-145.
Team USA’s Zane Grothe and Clark Smith helped pull the U.S. back with a 1-2 finish in the men’s 1000 freestyle to cut the Pac-12’s lead to 173-161.
The Pac-12 took the 200 mixed medley relay before Ledecky returned to the pool for the women’s 200 freestyle. Her victory there in 1:41.60 gave her conference a 198.5-171.5 lead over her national team.
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Olympic gold medalist Tom Shields, who contributed a pair of victories in the 100 fly and 100 freestyle and was a part of the winning men’s 400 medley relay team on Saturday night, earned another victory for Team USA in the 200 freestyle. Olympian Kathleen Baker, swimming for the Pac-12, then edged 2017 breakout teen star Regan Smith in the 100 backstroke.
USC freshman Robert Glinta beat out a pair of Olympic medalists to win the 100 backstroke, with five-time Olympic medalist Matt Grevers finishing second and three-time Olympian Ryan Murphy coming in third. With that, the Pac-12 led, 231.5-195.5.
Molly Hannis won the women’s 100 breaststroke and Nic Fink the same event for the men to help out Team USA by cutting the Pac-12’s lead to 10 points.
Ella Eastin won the women’s 200 butterfly for the Pac-12 and Shields claimed yet another event for Team USA, winning the men’s 200 butterfly in 1:41.59. It was his fourth win of the meet, all out of lane 1.
Weitzel smoked the competition in the women’s 50 free for the Pac-12 and Michael Andrew did the same for Team USA in the men’s race, winning in 19.23 as the Pac-12 took a 20-point lead into the final events.
Eastin won the women’s 200 individual medley and Pac-12 alum and Olympian Josh Prenot won the men’s 200 IM, the last individual race of the event, in 1:42.78.
With that, the Pac-12 led 302.5-276.5, and the conference officially got the overall meet victory after Ledecky, Weitzel, Louise Hansson and Janet Hu won the women’s 400 freestyle relay.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.