Boise State In Lead At MW Championships
Feb. 19, 2016
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Three event titles and a runner-up finish in the 400 medley relay, along with a key disqualification, propelled Boise State past Nevada and atop the team leaderboard Friday night at the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Broncos, with 430.5 points, lead the Wolf Pack (419) by 11.5 points and are 64.5 points up on third-place San Diego State (366) heading into the meet's final day Saturday. Prelims for the final day of competition begin at 10 a.m. MT with the 200 back and continuing with the 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly and platform diving. Saturday night's finals will also include the 400 free relay.
"Our goal tonight was just to keep chipping away with some good events ahead tomorrow. With the DQ, that's unfortunate for that team, you hate to take the lead on that but at the same time that's what this game is about. It's a three-and-a-half day format, it's grueling and it's kind of about the last team standing," Kipp said.
Trailing Nevada by 29.5 points entering Friday night, Boise State caught a major break in the night's opening final, the 400 medley relay. Although the Bronco foursome of Sam Wicks, Laura Williams, Brittany Aoyama and Katelyn Martin were edged out of the title by 0.11 of a second by the winning Wyoming quartet, the bigger development was the disqualification of the Nevada relay team. The decision, upheld after an appeal from the Wolf Pack, resulted in Nevada receiving zero points for the event, a massive swing at the top of the leaderboard.
Boise State finished the relay in 3:35.97, right behind Wyoming's winning time of 3:35.86. Wicks staked the Broncos to a lead of 1.79 seconds after the opening leg, but Wyoming's Maria Harutjunjan made up that deficit and some more on the second leg, handing a lead of 0.41 of a second to Molly Coonce on the third leg. Aoyama, swimming the butterfly leg, made up four-tenths of that deficit, and, with the race basically a dead heat after 300 yards, Wyoming's Emily Ridout just beat out Martin by a tenth of a second on the anchor.
Undeterred, the Broncos made up for it in the individual finals, as Wicks captured her second solo crown of the meet, taking the 100 back, with Aoyama successfully defending her 100 fly crown and Emma Chard winning her first individual Mountain West title, topping the 200 free field. All three swimmers came into their respective final after setting the top time in the morning prelims.
"We got off to a little bit of a slow start. Congratulations to Wyoming on the win in the relay, I thought we had a good chance," Kipp said. "But for our girls to come back, Emma getting the win in the 200 free she did it in convincing fashion. Sam, that's a win in her baby, that's her favorite event, and that was huge. And Brittany, the back-to-back champion, that's a lot of pressure to win that event twice in a row so that was awesome."
Aoyama made it back-to-back titles in the 100 fly by holding off a challenge from San Diego State's Summer Harrison. Her winning time of 52.75 out-touched Harrison by nine-hundredths of a second.
Chard dueled teammate Felicity Cann for the first half of the race before pulling away with a third 50 split of 26.62, and touched the wall first in a Mountain West-record 1:45.23, just one-hundredth of a second behind Amber Boucher's school record set at the 2011 WAC Championships. Cann would take fifth in 1:47.35.
In the night's final race, the 100 back championship, Wicks went wire-to-wire, touching the wall in 52.36 to beat out Wyoming's Isobel Ryan by 0.88 of a second. Earlier in the day, Wicks set the Boise State record with a time of 52.03 in prelims.
"Sam's been swimming well, she's been swimming like a captain," Kipp said of Wicks. "I don't want to say that she's on a mission but she just has a lot of confidence in what she's doing, and it's fun to see a swimmer achieve that self-reliance."
Freshman Ally Kleinsorgen took fourth in the 100 back, clocking a 54.09 and missing out on third place by just three-hundredths of a second behind Fresno State's Ugne Mazutaityte.
Along with Cann and Kleinsorgen's efforts, the Broncos also got top-eight finishes from Amelia Draney in the 400 IM (fourth, 4:20.71) and Williams in the 100 breast (sixth, 1:02.45).
Boise State also got key scoring efforts from a few swimmers in the B finals. Martin won the 100 fly consolation in 54.16 for a ninth-place overall finish with Monica Bottelberghe taking eighth (16th overall) in 56.02. Blake Balogh (1:48.93) and Cody Evans (1:49.28) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 200 free consolation for overall finishes of 11th and 12th, while Emily Mathis (4:25.89) was fifth in the 400 IM consolation for an overall finish of 13th.
"It's one of those deals where you look around and you can see how tight this meet is so you have to scratch and claw for every point," Kipp noted.
Freshman Anne Boodt picked up the win in the bonus ("C") final of the 400 IM, touching in 4:29.70.
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