REDLANDS, Calif. (Dec. 3, 2014) – Freshman Henry Baer (Lafayette, Calif. / Acalanes) won both individual races and his relay as the Caltech men's swimming and diving team opened the season with a bang, winning seven of 13 events in the opener at SCIAC foe the University of Redlands on Wednesday night.
The Beavers took the Bulldogs by surprise, winning six of the first eight events to surge ahead before Redlands rallied late to escape with a 119-98 victory – a vast improvement over last year's season-opening 178-31 defeat.
Despite arriving to the meet well behind schedule due to rain and traffic, and consequently only able to get in a 20-minute warmup, the Beavers came out of the gates on fire. The 200 Medley Relay team of Baer, freshman Eric Lin (Potomac, Md. / Montgomery Blair) and juniors Kevin Yu (Seattle, Wash. / Lakeside) and Patric Eck (Fullerton, Calif. / Troy) started things off with a half-second victory in 1:41.73 – just 1.5 seconds off the program record and already a full second faster than last year's fifth-place relay team at the SCIAC Championships. The Beavers found themselves down by over a second heading into the butterfly leg, where Yu managed to get just a bit back to put Eck in position to rocket past Redlands on the freestyle, where he made up over 1.5 seconds to claim the win.
A 2-3 finish by senior C.J. Culpepper (Leonardtown, Md. / Leonardtown) and freshman Avikar Periwal in the 1000-yard Freestyle kept Caltech in the lead and big performances by Eck and sophomore Chris Bradley (Half Moon Bay, Calif. / Serra) to claim first and third in the 200 Free gave the Beavers some breathing room. The pair of water polo stars took the first 50 out within .03 of one another to lead the heat before Redlands rookie Nicolas Reed pulled ahead of both at the halfway point. Eck finished the third 50 just .05 seconds ahead and finally touched the wall just .01 in front to claim victory by the slightest of margins. Baer followed up the rousing victory with a blazing 22.01 first-place finish in the 50 Free, edging out Redlands' Nelson Glendinning by .32 as the pair blew away the rest of the field by three seconds.
The Bulldogs swept the 200 IM to pull right back into the meet, but the Beavers had an answer ready in senior Benjamin Grabowski (Lake Forest Park, Wash. / Inglemoor), who recorded a 161.70 on the 3-meter board as the only competing diver, and Yu, who claimed victory over a pair of Redlands swimmers in the 100 Fly as he came within just .62 short of his own program record. Baer again kept the momentum alive with another thrilling win in the 100 Free, rallying on the second 50 to out-touch Redlands' Eric Loprete, who placed eighth in the event at last year's SCIAC Championships, by .01 in a 49.21.
Redlands kept up the pressure, however, sweeping the 100 Back and going 1-2 in the 500 Free as Culpepper placed third for Caltech. Grabowski picked up another win in the 1-meter by default to bring the Beavers back within just six points with two events remaining, but it was Caltech's turn to come up short by .01 as Lin was just edged out in the 100 Breast, finishing second with a 1:04.60. The 200 Free Relay team of Culpepper, Periwal, freshman Richard May (Guilford, Conn. / Choate Rosemary Hall) and Bradley closed out the meet with a third-place finish.
Head Coach Jack Leavitt and the Beavers will return to the pool at the three-day La Verne Invitational from Friday-Sunday, Dec. 12-14 in Commerce, Calif.