March 1, 2008
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -
Two individual Mountain West Conference Championships, two MWC Coach of the Year awards and six school records highlighted the closing night of a great weekend of swimming and diving by the University of Wyoming at the 2008 MWC Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. Juniors Matt Urich and Aimee Stinson each captured conference championships, Tom Johnson was named the Women's Coach of the Year and Ben Herdt was the Men's Diving Coach of the Year.
In the final team standings, both the Cowboys and Cowgirls matched their best team finishes ever with respective third and fourth place finishes.
Both the Cowboys and Cowgirls were right on the cusp of their best team finishes ever but fell just short and had to settle for matching their best finishes. The Cowboys matched their best ever finish by placing third in the final team standings, just 13.5 points shy of second place. The Cowgirls matched their best finish ever of fourth place and were just 4.5 points shy of third place.
UNLV won the men's championship with 800 points. They were followed by BYU (642.5), Wyoming (629), Air Force (531), TCU (472) and Utah (353.5).
BYU won the women's meet with 763 points and were followed by UNLV (622), Utah (579), Wyoming (574.5), Colorado State (359), TCU (276.5), New Mexico (262), San Diego State (161) and Air Force (151).
Over the four day championship meet the Cowboys and Cowgirls absolutely rewrote the all-time UW record book. They broke 15 school records, 13 of which were by the Cowgirls, and had 44 performances that rank in the top-five all-time at Wyoming.
"This is the best team performance we have had in my ten years at Wyoming," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "The number of school records we broke and the top-performances we had was astounding.
"We did everything we could to hang on with BYU on the men's side and Utah on the women's and unfortunately fell just short. However, I couldn't be prouder or happier for everyone on this team. They did an unbelievable job this week and left it all in the water."
The Cowgirl highlight came when junior Aimee Stinson won the second MWC women's individual championship in Wyoming history in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:52.52. Stinson broke two UW records in the race, the 1650 freestyle and the 1000 freestyle with a split of 10:14.80. Saara Haapanen was the last MWC Champion from Wyoming after winning the one-meter diving event in 2007.
Led by sophomore Jessica Fruhwirth, three Cowgirl breaststrokers placed in the top-five of the 200 breast and earned major points. Fruhwirth had a break-out swim and placed second with a school record time of 2:16.86. Sophomore Megan Evans placed fourth (2:18.37) and freshman Lesley Young placed fifth (2:19.34).
The Cowgirl relays broke their fourth school record of the meet by placing fourth in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:26.87. Swimming for the Cowgirls was sophomore Cassie Stelow, junior Krista Jones, freshman Stephanie Vint and Stinson.
Sophomore Maggie Bach concluded a great day in the 200 butterfly by placing fifth in the event in a time of 2:03.89. Bach's preliminary time of 2:03.86 from the morning session is the second fastest time in school history. Vint had a great consolation swim and placed 10th with a time of 2:05.30.
In the women's 200 backstroke, three Cowgirls got on the scoreboard with Jones leading the way. Jones placed seventh with a time of 2:04.64, senior Rachel Leyes placed 10th (2:02.54) and freshman Erin Wagner placed 13th (2:05.13). Leyes' time is the third fastest in UW history while Jones' preliminary time of 2:03.04 is fourth all-time.
The Cowgirl diving team closed out a story book meet with two Cowgirls reaching the finals of the platform event. Senior Brittany Wainwright placed seventh (203.40) and sophomore Stephanie Ortiz was eighth (198.85).
In the 100 freestyle, Stelow won the consolation final with a school record time of 51.02, breaking her own record.
Once again, Junior Matt Urich was the swimmer of the day for the Cowboys. Urich put an explanation point on his MWC butterfly dominance by winning his second conference championship of the weekend in the 200. Urich swam a school record and NCAA "B" time of 1:46.72 in the event. With Urich's win, a Cowboy has won the last two MWC 200 butterfly championships as Ron Fogel took the title last season. After being the runner-up in both events in 2007, Urich won both butterfly events this season.
Once again, the Cowboy breaststroke made big strides for the Pokes with three athletes finishing in the top-six. Junior Alex Larkin led the way with a second place, NCAA "B" time of 1:59.35. Senior Levi Bell placed fourth (2:02.38) and senior Will McCallum placed sixth (2:03.97). Bell's time is the fifth fastest in school history.
The Cowboy backstroke picked up major points by taking the top-three spots in the consolation final. Senior Sam Shook placed ninth (1:49.67), senior Sam King was 10th (1:49.76) and freshman Nathan Fuller was 11th (1:50.03). All three cracked into the top-five all-time at UW.
Sophomore Robbie Hilton had a very nice swim in the 1650 freestyle, the first event of the night, and placed seventh in a time of 15:49.43.
Next up for the UW diving team will be the NCAA Zone "E" Diving Championships from 13-15 back in Oklahoma City, Okla. 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 into the championship meets. The women's NCAA championships will be held March 20-22 in Columbus, Ohio and the men's national championship meet will be held March 27-29 in Seattle, Wash.