Feb. 21, 2006
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming swimming and diving team will open the 2006 Mountain West Conference Championships this Wednesday at the Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, Okla.
"This is the time of year we prepare for all season and everyone is exciting to get things rolling," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "We are expecting a very fast meet this year. The MWC is always tough and with the addition of TCU and some very good freshmen, I think this will be one of the fastest conference meets ever."
The Cowgirls enter the championships as the sixth ranked team after posting an overall record of 6-7 and a 3-5 MWC dual mark. The Cowboys enter the week as the sixth seeded team with an overall record of 1-6 and an 0-5 conference mark. Last year, the Cowgirls finished fifth and the Cowboys placed third at the championships.
This season, Utah's women and the BYU men are favored in the championships after winning the MWC regular season titles. Last year, UNLV captured both the men's and women's championship for the first time ever. Prior to last year BYU had swept both titles in all six years of the championships.
One Cowgirl leading the way this week will be freshman Aimee Stinson. Stinson enters the championships with a top-eight performance in three championship events. She has the second fastest time in the 500 freestyle, the third fastest time in the 1650 freestyle and the eighth fastest time in the 200 freestyle.
The Cowgirls also have three top-10 conference times in the breaststroke events. Sophomore Lindsey Russenberger holds the fourth fastest 100 time and junior captain Erin Spadinger has swam the eighth fastest 200 and 10th fastest 100 times. Junior Lauren Beard ranks in the top-10 in both individual medley events with the seventh fastest 400 IM and the ninth fastest 200 IM. Junior captain Tamara Lehnertz holds the ninth fastest time in the 200 freestyle.
The Cowgirl divers enter the championships with some of the best marks in the conference. In the 1-meter event, junior Emily Keefer ranks fifth and sophomore Brittany Wainwright ranks sixth. Sophomore Ginni van Katwijk has posted the eighth highest 3-meter score. The Cowgirl divers received a bonus this week and junior Saara Haapanen will return to action after missing much of the second half of the season due to injury.
"On the women's side, Aimee has a real shot at a conference title in both the 500 and mile," said Johnson. "Our relays are seeded very well and should score some big points for us. I think our 200 and 800 free and 200 medley relays have a great shot at a top-three and I would love to see that happen. I am very excited about the divers and I think they will win some big points for us."
For the Cowboys, junior Ron Fogel enters the championships as the favorite in the 200 butterfly. This season, the captain has posted the fastest time in the MWC in the event after a third place finish last year. Fogel also boasts the fifth fastest time in the 100 butterfly and the eighth fastest 500 freestyle time. Sophomore Henry Holmberg enters the week with a top-six seed in three different freestyle events. He holds the fifth fastest mark in the 1650 and the sixth best mark in the 200 and 500.
Other Cowboys who enter the meet with a top-10 conference swim include freshman Matt Urich (tenth in the 500 free and ninth in the 200 fly), junior Nick King (tenth in the 1650 free), freshman Alex Larkin (tenth in the 100 breaststroke), freshman Sam Shook (sixth in the 400 IM and ninth in the 200 IM), freshman Sam King (fifth in the 400 IM) and junior Dan Jones (eighth in the 400 IM).
The Cowboy divers enter the championships with three of the top divers in the conference. Junior captain John Lynch posts the third highest score in both the 1 and 3-meter events while junior Kevin Bretting currently holds the fourth highest 3-meter score and fifth highest 1-meter score. Freshman Tyler Miller has posted the tenth best 3-meter score.
"Our guys have a great opportunity because we can only move up from where we finished the dual season," said Johnson. "We are pretty deep in a lot of events and have some guys who are capable of some big things. We are especially deep in the 500 freestyle and the IM's. The divers are going to make a lot of noise, score a lot of points and be near the top in all three events."
The championships will run from Wed., Feb. 22 through Sat., Feb. 25 with preliminary events beginning each morning at 10 a.m. and finals beginning at 6 p.m. (Central time).