Feb. 22, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -
In Thursday night's 1-meter diving event, senior Saara Haapanen did what no other Cowgirl has ever done as she became the first to win a Mountain West Conference individual championship. Behind Haapanen's lead, the Cowgirls closed out the second day of competition at the 2007 MWC Championships in third place while the Cowboys fell to fifth in Oklahoma City, Okla.
"Saara really deserves this," said UW diving coach Ben Herdt. "She is a great girl who has been working hard all year and she put it all together tonight. This is the best conference final I have ever seen and for her to come out of it as a champion is something that makes me very proud of her achievement."
Following Thursday's action, BYU took control of first place on both the men's and women's sides of the championships. Their women have tallied 327 team points and lead Utah (236), Wyoming (212), UNLV (209), Colorado State (171), New Mexico (122), TCU (119), Air Force (78) and San Diego State (63). The BYU men are in first place with 279 team points and lead UNLV (251), Air Force (248), Utah (200.5), Wyoming (199) and TCU (167.5).
In Haapanen's historic event, she had plenty of support from her teammates with four other Cowgirls earning team points. Haapanen won the event with a score of 294.85, junior Brittany Wainwright placed fifth with a score of 277.50 and freshman Stephanie Ortiz finished sixth with a mark of 271.50. A pair of Cowgirls reached the consolation final with freshman Emily Huth finishing 14th (241.20) and senior Emily Keefer placing 15th (235.95).
The Cowboy senior diving duo of John Lynch and Kevin Bretting had another great day as they finished in second and third place in the 3-meter event. Lynch placed second with a score of 348.95 and Bretting finished third with a mark of 328.80. Sophomore Tyler Miller also had a great day and dove to a sixth place score of 286.60.
"Eight of our divers have scored points in every single event which is great," added Herdt. "We have scored more diving points than any other team and it is all a tribute to the great kids we have here at Wyoming."
For the Cowgirl swimmers, sophomore Aimee Stinson had the best swim of the day in the 500 freestyle. She placed fourth in the event and broke her own school record with a time of 4:55.23. A pair of Cowgirls earned points in the 50 freestyle with freshman Cassie Stelow placing 12th (24.08) and senior Heidi Thorson placing 15th (24.27). Senior Lauren Beard placed 16th in the 200 IM with a time of 2:09.87.
In relay action, the Cowgirls set another school relay record as they touched the wall in a time of 1:34.29 in the 200 freestyle. Swimming for the Cowgirls was Stelow, Thorson, junior Angela DeWolf and senior Tamara Lehnertz.
Leading the way for the Cowboy swimmers was junior Sam King. King swam to a sixth place finish in the 200 IM with a time of 1:52.27. Senior Dan Jones placed 12th in the event (1:52.67) and junior Levi Bell finished 13th (1:53.10). In the 500 freestyle, freshman Robbie Hilton placed 14th (4:34.56), sophomore Matt Urich placed 15th (4:36.08) and sophomore Eli Bell placed 16th (4:36.51). Freshman Jamie Comrie placed in the 50 freestyle with a 14th place time of 21.09. In relay action, the Cowboys finished sixth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:23.93.
"On the swimming side we had a bit of a struggle, especially this morning," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "Despite the adversity we had some great performances like the women's 200 free relay and Aimee each breaking school records. We have to come back tomorrow and get refocused and get some better individual swims."
The championships will continue on Friday with preliminary action beginning at 10 a.m. (Central Time) and finals starting at 6 p.m. Friday's scheduled events include the 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, women's platform diving preliminaries and the 400 medley relay.