Wyoming Swimming and Diving in Great Position Heading into Final Day

Feb. 24, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -

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The University of Wyoming swimming and diving team had a very strong third day at the Mountain West Conference Championships as both teams finished the day in fifth place and set themselves up for a strong finish tomorrow.

The Cowgirls had a very solid day in both the pool and on the diving boards and are just a half of a point away from fourth place. Utah continues to lead the women's field with 458 team points. The Utes are followed by BYU (393) UNLV (386), TCU (295), Wyoming (294.5), Colorado State (255.5), New Mexico (205), Air Force (134) and San Diego State (127).

In swimming action, sophomore Lindsey Russenberger had the best finish of the day as she placed second in the 100 breaststroke. Her time of 1:03.62 is a new school record as well as a provisional NCAA qualifying mark. Junior Erin Spadinger was right behind her and placed fourth with the second fastest time in school history of 1:03.96. Junior Heidi Thorson swam the second fastest time in school history in the 100 butterfly (56.19) and placed fourth. Junior Tamara Lehnertz placed fifth in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:52.18. Lehnertz swam a faster preliminary time (1:51.89) which is the second best in UW history. The Cowgirls finished the day with a bang as sophomore Rachel Leyes, Russenberger, Thorson and Lehnertz placed fourth in the 400 medley relay with a school record time of 3:48.41. The time is more than four seconds faster than the previous record.

The Cowgirl divers, who competed in the 3-meter event today, had yet another outstanding day and placed three divers in the top-seven. Leading the way was junior Saara Haapanen who placed third with the third best score in school history of 289.20. Haapanen is competing for just the second time after missing most of the second half of the season due to an injury. Junior Emily Keefer placed fourth (282.95) and sophomore Ginni van Katwijk placed seventh (266.05).

"I am so proud of our girls, they had an outstanding day," said UW swimming and diving coach Tom Johnson. "We had some spectacular swims and an awesome relay. We got some nice separation over CSU but we need to hold them off tomorrow. We are just half a point behind TCU so tomorrow will be a dual meet with them. We are in a great position to finish in the top-four which would be great.

"The divers had an outstanding night and I am so proud of them. Saara placing third after having the health problems she did just six weeks ago is one of the most inspirational things I have ever seen."

UNLV moved into first place in men's action with 509 teams points. BYU is currently second with 410 points and are followed by Air Force (360), Utah (356), Wyoming (349) and TCU (326).

The Cowboys had an outstanding day in the pool and set themselves up for a surge on the final day. Freshman Alex Larkin had the highest finish of the day as he placed third in the 100 breaststroke with the fourth best time in UW history, 55.77. Sophomore Will McCallum placed ninth in the event with a time of 57.01. A team highlight came in the 400 IM as three Cowboys finished in the top-ten. Leading the way was sophomore Sam King who swam to a sixth place time of 3:59.27. Junior Dan Jones had a solid swim and placed eighth (4:03.57) while freshman Sam Shook placed ninth (4:01.51). The Cowboys had two swimmers final in the 200 freestyle as sophomore Henry Holmberg placed fourth (1:39.40) and freshman Eli Bell placed seventh (1:40.25). Holmberg swam the third fastest time in school history, a 1:39.07, in this morning's preliminaries. Junior Ron Fogel also had a nice swim and placed eighth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.93.

"I am very proud of our guys and what they did tonight," added Johnson. "We are in a tight battle with Utah and Air Force which will come down to tomorrow. We are right on the cusp of a top-three or four finish which would be an amazing thing. Overall this is one of the tightest conference meets ever and we are right in the thick of things."

The championships will conclude tomorrow with preliminary events beginning at 10 a.m. and the finals beginning at 6 p.m. (Central time). Scheduled events include the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 1650 freestyle, platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay.