Wyoming Swimming and Diving has Bittersweet Saturday

Jan. 20, 2007

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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Wyoming's swimming and diving teams experienced as many emotions as one team could Saturday when the women beat UNLV and the men lost a very tight dual, all on senior day, at Corbett Pool.

The Cowgirls continued the best start in Wyoming history as they improved to 6-0 with a 167-133 win over UNLV. The Cowboys took the 23rd ranked and two-time defending Mountain West Conference Champions to the wire but lost the last two events of the day to fall to the Rebels 153-147. The Cowgirls are now 4-0 in the MWC while the Cowboys fell to 0-2 in the conference and 2-2 overall.

"This is a bittersweet day," said veteran UW head coach Tom Johnson. "This is a great win for our women and I feel so good for them but at the same time it was a tough loss for the men who my heart goes out to."

The Cowgirls put together a great team effort and won eight of 16 events while claiming many crucial second and third place points. Leading the way was senior Saara Haapanen and sophomore Aimee Stinson who each won two events for the second time this weekend. Haapanen won both diving events with a 1-meter score of 271.73 and a 3-meter mark of 286.13. Stinson won both distance freestyles with a time of 10:37.45 in the 1000 and a 5:08.48 in the 500.

From the beginning of the meet, the Cowgirls proved they wanted the win by swimming to a first place finish in the 200 medley relay. Junior Rachel Leyes combined with seniors Erin Spadinger, Heidi Thorson and Tamara Lehnertz and clocked in at a time of 1:47.89. Other first place finishes came from Spadinger in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.51), freshman Kari Budd in the 200 butterfly (2:11.73) and Thorson in the 100 butterfly (57.24).

"This is the best start ever for our women and I couldn't be more proud," said Johnson. "We have never beaten UNLV in my time at Wyoming. I am so happy for this team but I am especially proud of this senior class. I thought our younger kids rose to the occasion for our seniors today and as a team we picked up a big win."

On the opposite side of the spectrum, calling today's loss a heartbreaker might not suffice for the Cowboys. They led the two-time defending MWC Champions with just two events to go but were unable to close out the win.

Despite the tough loss, the Cowboys had some spectacular performance as they took the top spot in five events. Seniors John Lynch and Kevin Bretting each won a board of diving with Lynch taking top honors in the 1-meter (319.88) and Bretting doing so in the 3-meter (360.23). Senior Ron Fogel missed a Corbett Pool record by .08 seconds with his first place performance in the 200 butterfly (1:49.03). Sophomore Matt Urich won the 100 butterfly in a time of 50.19. The Bell brothers, Eli and Levi, took the top-two spots in the 200 freestyle with Eli finishing first (1:43.45) and Levi finishing second (1:44.87).

"I feel bad for our guys. They swam their hearts out and had the defending champs by the throat but let them slip away," added Johnson. "However, losing this dual doesn't take away from how proud I am of these men."

Both the Cowboy and Cowgirl diving teams had exceptional days, claiming the top-three spots in all four events.

The Wyoming swimming and diving team will return to the water next weekend as they travel across Wyoming's western border to dual with Utah and BYU. Wyoming will take on Utah on Friday at 5 p.m. and will dual with BYU on Saturday at 1 p.m.