LARAMIE, Wyo. – Cowgirl swimming and diving heads to College Station, Texas, for the 2017 Mountain West Championships at the Texas A&M Natatorium. The meet begins on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 11:30 a.m. MT with diving preliminaries and runs through Saturday, concluding with the final session slated to begin at 5 p.m. MT.
The Cowgirls have three individuals and four relay teams with times ranked in the top five in the Mountain West this season. Sophomore Isobel Ryan logged the fifth-fastest time in the 50 freestyle (23.03) and the third-fastest in the 100 freestyle (50.08). Ryan also holds the best time in the MW this season in the 100 backstroke (53.82), which will have the strongest field of any event, including nine swimmers with NCAA ‘B’ cut times. Junior Maria Harutjunjan will look to defend her title in the 100 breaststroke after claiming victory the last two seasons. She currently holds the top time of the year (1:01.96), and is one of five MW swimmers with an NCAA ‘B’ cut time. Harutjunjan also notched the top time this season in the 200 breaststroke (2:11.85), nearly three seconds faster than the competition, and the fifth-best time in the 200 individual medley (2:02.78).
On the boards, freshman Karla Contreras leads the Cowgirls with the second-best scoring averages in the 1-meter (293.56) and 3-meter (311.05) events, and the best mark on platform. Her season-best platform score of 281.50 was the best in Wyoming history and the fifth-highest score ever in the MW. Senior Keely Bishop ranks just behind Contreras on platform this season with an average score of 223.13. She also ranks 10th in the 1-meter (259.35) and the 3-meter (269.15).
Wyoming also has the capability to pick up points in the relay events. The Cowgirls logged the fourth-fastest times in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay, and the third-fastest times in the 200 and 400 medley relays. The 200 freestyle relay team, consisting of Ryan, senior Danielle Badger, junior Rachel McKivigan and sophomore Samantha Burke, clocked a 1:33.12. The same group logged a 3:23.21 in the 400 freestyle relay. Senior Abby Sullivan, along with Harutjunjan, Ryan and Burke, posted a 1:41.25 in the 200 medley relay. The 400 medley relay team of Ryan, Harutjunjan, Burke and Badger recorded a season-best 3:42.64.
“We’re getting a good feeling in the water the past couple weeks, and it has become more fun as everyone is getting excited for the championship,” Harutjunjan said. “We’re feeling confident and we want to win the title. I’ve finished second in the 200 breaststroke the past two years so I really want to win that one. I’m always positive and I always want to finish first. It’s so much fun to spend this week with the girls, cheer each other on and feel the power of our team. That’s what motivates me.”
The Nevada Wolfpack will try to defend their MW championship after narrowly defeating Boise State last season. Air Force’s Genevieve Miller will look to become the first MW swimmer to win multiple events in each of her four years at the MW championships. Nevada’s Sharae Zheng is the diver to beat this year after winning NCAA titles in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events in 2016. Zheng is the only MW diver with a higher average score on both boards than Contreras this season.
“Right now the team is getting ready by resting more than actual training,” UW assistant coach Dave Denniston said. “They’re taking care of their academics and there’s a lot of energy on deck. The team is having a lot of fun, they tend to get a bit goofy this time of year and I think they’re ready to get down to College Station. Our girls look really strong in just about every event and we’ll be fighting for the top spot.”
Fans can follow the action live with streams and results of every events at the links above. Event highlights will also be posted each night on the results page. Follow @Wyo_swimdive on twitter for updates and explore the #MWSD17 hashtag for even more championship content.