Wyoming Swimming and Diving Opens MWC Championships this Wednesday

Feb. 24, 2009

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The season long wait is over for the Wyoming swimming and diving team, as they travel to Oklahoma City, Okla. to compete in the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championships. The Cowboys enter the meet seeded second, while the Cowgirls finished the regular season in sixth. The meet will begin Wednesday and run through Saturday at the Oklahoma City Community College Aquatic Center.

"We have been talking about this week all season, and I feel like we can contend for a title, especially on the men's side," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "We need to have our divers dominate like they have all season, and for the relays to be at their very best."

The Cowboys finished the 2008-09 campaign with an overall mark of 12-1, and an MWC record of 4-1. The Cowgirls closed out the season with a MWC dual record of 4-4,12-4 overall.

UNLV enters this week's meet as the top-seed on the men's side after finishing with an undefeated record in MWC dual meets. The Rebels are currently ranked 24th by the College Swim Coaches Association of America. UNLV was the only team to defeat the Cowboys this season.

On the women's side, BYU finished the MWC dual season 8-0, 17-1 overall, and will look to win their third consecutive championship. Colorado State follows the Cougars in the standings with a conference record of 6-2.

Individually for the Cowgirls, sophomore Lesley Young ranks second in the MWC in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 breaststroke, while junior Cassie Stelow ranks in the top-ten in the 50 freestyle. Senior Aimee Stinson won the 1650 freestyle last year at the championships, and will look to repeat in that event. Stinson ranks third in the MWC in the 1000 freestyle and in the top-15 in both the 500 and 1650 freestyle. The 200 medley relay team holds the second best time in the conference as well.

For the Cowboys, two seniors will look to win their third career MWC Championship. Alex Larkin, the MWC 200 breaststroke champion in 2006 and the 100 breaststroke champion in 2007, enters this week with the fourth best time in the 200 breaststroke. Fellow senior Matt Urich won both the 100 and 200 butterfly a year ago, and ranks third in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 200. Senior Eli Bell and junior Tommy Gregory will lead the way for the Pokes in the freestyle events, while freshman Marshall Dilworth ranks in the top-ten in both the 100 and 200 backstroke.

On the diving boards, Wyoming has a number of top performances in the MWC. Junior Stephanie Ortiz, six-time MWC Diver of the Week, owns the top score on the three-meter board (313.73) and second on one-meter (309.45). For the Pokes, Mark Murdock set the school record on platform with a score of 332.10 earlier this season. That score is also the top mark in the conference thus far. Tyler Miller ranks second on one-meter spring board, while last year's champion Kyle Bogner, is third.

"For the men we need to swim well in the distance and sprint events and come out with wins in the events we are strong at. The relays need to be competitive, which they can be, and the divers to continue their success." Johnson said. "The women are good at the relays, especially the medley relays. I am hoping Aimee (Stinson) can defend her title and Lesley (Young) can win her events as well. Our diving and relays will have to carry the women's team."

Scheduled events on Wednesday's opening day include men's one-meter diving, women's three-meter diving, the 200 medley relay and 800 freestyle relay.

Live stats will be available online by visiting http://themwc.cstv.com/livestats/c-swim/results/index.htm.