15 Wyoming Athletes Reach Final Rounds against Nation's Best at Texas Invite

Dec. 3, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas -

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The first day of the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame Invitational is in the books, with the Wyoming Cowboys and Cowgirls competing against nationally ranked programs. Today, Wyoming had a total of 15 athletes reaching the final round of their respective events at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.

The Cowgirls and Cowboys are currently in sixth place after the first of three days. The meet features numerous top-25 teams on both the men's and women's side. Fourth-ranked Arizona leads the way on the women's side with 393 points and are followed by #3 Texas (303), #7 Auburn (163), #16 Wisconsin (138), North Texas (87), and the Cowgirls (86).

The sixth-ranked Arizona men also are in first with 390 points and are trailed by top-ranked Texas (373), UC Davis (125), #5 Auburn (125), Wisconsin (102), and the Cowboys (58).

Additionally, UCLA, California, Hawaii, SMU, New Mexico and TCU will compete in diving only this week.

"We swam pretty well for the first day," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "It is a very competitive meet on both sides against some of the best in the nation, but overall I thought it was a good day for us."

The highest finisher of any Cowgirl came from senior diver Stephanie Ortiz. Ortiz was seeded fourth in the final round on women's three-meter springboard, and finished in second with a score of 311.80. Texas diver Maren Taylor narrowly edged Ortiz with a mark of 313.50.

In the pool, another senior proved to have the best finish of any Cowgirl swimmer. Cassie Stelow swam the 50 freestyle in 23.02 and finished fifth, her best time of the season. Stelow was eighth after the preliminary round. Shelby Bull was also in the final round in the 50 freestyle and placed 27th.

Stephanie Vint swam the 500 freestyle for the first time this season and finished in 11th with a time of 4:55.27. Other Cowgirls in final events include Lesley Young in the 200 IM (19th), Caroline Wells in the 200 IM (30th), and Bull in the 100 butterfly (31st).

"Ortiz was tremendous today and only missed first place by less then two points," Johnson said. "Vint, Stelow, and Young were outstanding today along with our 400 medley relay."

For the Pokes, their highest placing also came on the diving boards. On one-meter, junior Kyle Bogner finished with a score of 301.40, and finished fifth. Fellow junior Mark Murdock was close behind in seventh.

The men's 500 freestyle had three Cowboys in the final round. Tyler Kybartas improved his preliminary time and finished in 12th in 4:32.73, while Sam Holmes was 16th (4:39.48) and Robbie Hilton finished in 24th (4:45.66).

The Cowboys also had strong swims from three others that swam in final rounds. Sophomore Brandon Fischer finished in 26th with a time of 1:52.71, while Tommy Gregory and Christian Johnson reached the finals in the 50 freestyle.

"I thought that Kybartas and Fischer were tremendous today, and this morning we had great swims from Gregory as well," Johnson added. "I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully having fast times and high diving scores."

Day two of the Texas Invite will continue tomorrow for both the Cowboy and Cowgirls. Action from the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center will begin at 9 a.m. Mountain with preliminary rounds.