Cowgirls Wrap-Up Historic Season in Second Place, Cowboys Finish Fourth

Feb. 27, 2010


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The Wyoming swimming and diving team finished the 2010 Mountain West Conference Championships Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Cowgirls finished their most successful season in school history with their highest finish ever at second place in the MWC Championships.

In all, four champions were crowned, three MWC records broken, 13 school records fell, and numerous NCAA provisional times were swam.

With two events remaining in the championships, the Cowgirls trailed BYU by 13 points. At the end of the night BYU pulled ahead and won the team championship with a total of 703 points. The Cowgirls finished second with 674 points. Following the Cowgirls were San Diego State (589), UNLV (386), Utah (377), Colorado State (366), TCU (233), New Mexico (214), and Air Force (150).

On the men's side, UNLV won the team title with 797 points followed by Air Force (600.5), BYU (580.5), Wyoming (543), TCU (492), and Utah (401).

"We made a serious run at BYU today and I am very proud of the girls," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "We had great morning swims that put us in position to make some noise on both sides. We had an unbelievable week and I am so very proud of our team and their effort they put out."

The Cowgirls gave BYU everything they could handle with a number of appearances in the final rounds tonight and broke three school records doing so. Sophomore Shelby Bull continued her outstanding week in the 100 freestyle and placed second with an NCAA provisional and school record time of 50.02. Fellow sophomore Kelsey Conci also made the finals and placed seventh (50.63).

Junior Lesley Young and sophomore Lauren Hewson swam impressive times in the finals of the 200 breaststroke. Young broke her own school record she set a year ago at the MWC Championships by placing second with an NCAA "B" cut time of 2:13.19. Hewson also swam an NCAA provisional time and finished fourth with a time of 2:16.48.

In her final conference championship meet, senior captain Kari Budd led the Cowgirls in the 200 butterfly and pulled Wyoming closer to the lead with a fourth place finish and a time of 2:02.96. Junior Stephanie Vint continued her incredible meet with a sixth place finish and time of 2:03.39.

"I felt the 100 freestyle put some separation between us and San Diego State. Shelby Bull swam a great race and just got touched out," Johnson said. "Lesley Young and Lauren Hewson swam great this morning and in the final round. They both had amazing times. I thought the butterfly was the swim of the day. Kari (Budd) has been such a great leader is such a wonderful person and she deserves everything she earns. I was very proud of her and Stephanie Vint, who also had a very good swim in that event."

Not usually a distance swimmer, junior Kristen Flachbarth made the finals in the 1650 freestyle and swam to an impressive sixth place finish with a time of 16:57.22. Freshman Paige Fischer also was in the finals and touched in for eighth place. Sophomore Caroline Wells added a seventh place finish in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:00.80.

The Cowgirls final school record of the week came in the 400 freestyle relay. The previous record time was 3:24.88, but Conci, Bull, Kenzie Hewson, and Cassie Stelow demolished that time and swam an NCAA "B" cut time of 3:20.09.

On the diving boards, senior Stephanie Ortiz led the way for the Cowgirls on the platform event. Ortiz was sixth going into the final round, but jumped up to an important fourth place finish with a score of 255.15. Fellow senior Emily Huth also moved up in the final round and placed eighth with a total of 196.45.

"Kristen Flachbarth swam the mile for the second time ever tonight and I was very happy for her and Paige in her first championship meet. The relay was out of the world and nearly led the entire way," Johnson said. "The divers were awesome and Stephanie Ortiz dove out of her mind. Throughout this week she showed great leadership and willed both the swimmers and the divers. I don't think we could have been in this situation without her."

On the men's side, sophomore Brandon Fischer had the swim of the day for the Cowboys in the 200 breaststroke. Fischer swam an NCAA provisional time of 1:57.51 and finished in second. Senior Tommy Gregory swam the 100 freestyle in 45.58 and placed seventh.

Cowboy distance swimmers had a great final day as well. Senior Robbie Hilton placed the highest in third with a time of 15:30.79, an NCAA provisional time. Fellow senior Sam Holmes closed out his career as well and swam a solid race and placed eighth for UW. Kyle Wemhoff in 11th, Tyler Davis 12th, and Brett Henehan in 14th also scored points in the mile.

Tyler Kybartas added his own third place finish in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:49.93 for the Pokes. Nathan Fuller and Marshall Dilworth made the finals after great morning swims in the 200 backstroke. Fuller was seventh (1:48.82) and Dilworth was eighth (1:51.67).

"Brandon Fischer had the swim of the day and made a run at winning the 200 breaststroke today. He has a chance of making NCAA's in that event," Johnson said. "Tommy Gregory did a super job this morning and had a very solid swim. Nathan Fuller and Marshall Dilworth were dialed in all day and did awesome in the backstroke. Tyler Kybartas pushed himself and moved up in the 200 butterfly and finished with a great time.

"Our women were unbelievable, especially today and gave BYU a scare. The men raced very hard all week and also made a run. It was great getting phone calls from alumni and we had a lot of fans following us across the state of Wyoming. We created a lot of excitement for Wyoming swimming and diving this week."

Up next for Wyoming, the diving team will be competing at the NCAA Zone "E" Championships held in Austin, Texas March 11-13. For the UW swimmers, those athletes who swam NCAA provisional qualifying times during the season will have to wait and see if their times are pulled in the championship meets. NCAA Championships on the women's side will be March 18-20 in West Lafayette, Ind., while the men's will be March 25-27 in Columbus, Ohio.