Cowboys Place Second And Cowgirls Third At UNLV Winter Invite

Dec. 21, 2004

Laramie, Wyo. -- The University of Wyomingmen's swimming and diving team fell to second place while theCowgirls finished third at the 2004 UNLV Winter Invite in Las Vegas,Nev., last night.

The Cowboys lost a heartbreaking decision to Pacific who earned halfof a point more than the Cowboys to win the invite. Pacific totaled722 team points while the Cowboys tallied 721.50. UNLV (642.50), UCSanta Barbara (619.50), Tennessee (479) and Cal State Northridge(222.50) rounded out the field.

In Monday's competition, the Cowboys swam to three first placefinishes and a total of eight top-five showings. Senior Scott Usherwon the 200 breaststroke in a time of 1:57.28, finishing over sixseconds faster than the second place swimmer. He earned an NCAA"A" cut in the race and secured himself a trip to the NCAAChampionships for the third consecutive year. A pair of freshmen,Henry Holmberg and Carl Marais, also each earned first place finisheson the day. Holmberg won the first event of the day, the 1650freestyle, as he swam to a time of 15:54.57. Sophomore Emre Aydinfinished behind Holmberg in the event as he swam to the fifth fastesttime of 16:17.52. Marais swam to the second fastest time in UWhistory in the 100 freestyle as he touched in at 44.87 to pick up thefirst place finish, but that record wouldn't last long as hebettered himself with his split in the 400 freestyle relay. JuniorGene Birks finished second in the event as he swam to a time of 45.61.

In the lone relay action of the day, the Cowboys placed second in the400 freestyle relay to invite champion Pacific. Marais, Birks, seniorBryce Perica and senior Grant Kritzinger swam to a time of 3:01.01.Marais' split in the event, a 44.68, is the fastest 100 freestyle inWyoming history. Sophomore Ron Fogel and Birks both finished in thetop-five of the 200 butterfly. Fogel placed third in the event,swimming to a time of 1:48.63 and Birks swam to a fourth place time of1:51.02.

"The men let the lead slip away as we lost by a half of a point onthe very last relay and that is very disappointing," said UW headcoach Tom Johnson. "The guys 100 free was awesome as Carl and Genewent one-two and Scott had a great swim in the 200 breast and did agreat job of picking up his "A" cut and will be going back to theNCAA's for the third consecutive year."

The Cowgirls held on to claim a third place finish in the invite.Pacific also won the women's field as they tallied 951.50 teamspoints. UNLV (666), Wyoming (544), UC Santa Barbara (507.50), SanJose State (499), San Diego State (254), Cal State Northridge (237)and Tennessee (59) completed the field.

The Cowgirls swam to three top-five showings on the day. SophomoreErin Spadinger claimed the highest finish as she placed second in the200 breaststroke in a time of 2:22.21. Senior Kristin Lewis swam to afifth place time of 2:08.22 in the 200 butterfly. In the only relayevent of the day, sophomores Heidi Thorson, Katie Bigger, TamaraLehnertz and freshman Lindsey Russenberger placed fourth in the 400freestyle relay with a time of 3:34.17.

"I am very proud of the way that both the guys and girls swam,"added Johnson. "Erin (Spadinger) was great in the 200 breaststrokeand I thought Kristin (Lewis) had a great day in both the 1650freestyle and especially the 200 fly.

"Hopefully now we can enjoy the holiday, get some rest and comeback after Christmas ready to train. We need to be ready forconference and finish the season on a high note."

The Wyoming swimming and diving team will return to action as theydual with Arizona State on Fri., Jan. 7, as part of their ChristmasTraining Trip. The teams will train in Tempe, Ariz. from Dec. 28 toJan. 9.

*see complete results at*