Feb. 23, 2007
OKLAHOMA CIT, Okla. -
Alex Larkin won his second career Mountain West Conference breaststroke championship as both the Cowboys and Cowgirls wrapped up the third day of competition in fourth place at the 2007 MWC Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Friday.
UNLV took the lead in the men's race for a conference title with a total of 480.5 team points. The Rebels lead BYU (469.5), Air Force (423), Wyoming (341), Utah (297.5) and TCU (296.5). BYU is currently in first place of the women's field with 542 team points and lead Utah (439), UNLV (376), Wyoming (367), Colorado State (281), TCU (270), New Mexico (199), Air Force (129) and San Diego State (118).
"This was a great day for both teams and I am so proud of our kids," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "We came back after a tough day yesterday and showed a lot of character. We had some kids step up and turn in some amazing performances."
Larkin led the way on Friday as he continued to build a great breaststroke tradition at Wyoming. The sophomore won his second career conference championship and his first 100 breaststroke title. To win the race, he swam the third fastest time in Wyoming history and an NCAA "B" qualifying time of 54.50. With his win, a Wyoming swimmer has won nine of 11 breaststroke events at the conference championships over the past six seasons. Larkin had a strong contingent of Pokes behind him as junior Levi Bell placed fifth (56.50) and junior Will McCallum placed sixth (56.54).
"I am really happy for Alex. The kid he beat had gotten the better of him three times this season and it was great for Alex to get vindication and win the one that counts. He simply refused to lose," said Johnson.
Another terrific performance for the Cowboys came from sophomore Matt Urich in the 100 butterfly. Urich placed second in the event with the third fastest time in school history at 48.73. Senior Ron Fogel also had a solid 100 butterfly and placed eighth with a time of 50.16. Three Pokes scored points in the 400 IM with junior Sam King placing seventh (4:02.93), senior Dan Jones finishing tenth (4:04.38) and sophomore Sam Shook placing 11th (4:05.60). Other point scoring performances came from sophomores Eli Bell and Devin Hougardy. Bell placed 11th in the 200 freestyle (1:40.62) and Hougardy scored in two events, placing 14th in the 100 backstroke (52.92) and 16th in the 100 butterfly (52.15).
Senior Heidi Thorson had the swim of the day for the Cowgirls and placed second in the 100 butterfly. She turned in a school record and NCAA "B" time of 54.96. Aimee Stinson also had a record breaking night as the sophomore broke a school record, her second in as many days, with a third place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:51.22). Senior Erin Spadinger earned a third place finish and did so in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.65. Senior Tamara Lehnertz also reached Friday night's finals and placed eighth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:53.32.
Freshman Molly Janak had a great night and won the consolation final in the 100 backstroke (58.58). Other Cowgirls who reached the nights consolation finals included freshman Jessica Fruhwirth who placed tenth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.53), senior Lauren Beard with an 11th place finish in the 400 IM (4:33.96), freshman Maggie Bach who placed 12th in the 100 fly (57.40) and freshman Olena Moher who finished 14th in the 100 backstroke (59.98).
In women's platform diving, the only diving event of the night, junior Brittany Wainwright and freshman Stephanie Ortiz each qualified for the finals. Wainwright placed sixth with a score of 195.65 and Ortiz finished seventh with a mark of 184.45. In the consolation final, senior Emily Keefer broke a school record with a score of 228.10 and placed ninth.
In the only relay of the night, the Cowboys turned in a third place time of 3:19.00 in the 400 medley and the Cowgirls placed fourth with a time of 3:49.93. Swimming for the Cowboys was Shook, Larkin, Urich and Eli Bell. Janak, Spadinger, Thorson and Lehnertz swam the relay for the Cowgirls.
"The girls had some great performances and are in a battle with UNLV for third place," said Johnson. "The guys are firmly set in fourth place and ahead of a couple teams that beat them during the dual season which is nice. Every event is big tomorrow and both teams need to come out and finish strong."
The championships will conclude on Saturday with scheduled events that include men's platform diving, the 1650 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relay. Two Cowboys will be looking to defend conference championships from last season with Larkin doing so in the 200 breaststroke and Fogel in the 200 butterfly. Preliminary races will begin at 10 a.m. (Central time) and finals will start at approximately 6:15 p.m