SAN ANTONIO, Texas - With the pressure of the final day of competition weighing heavily on the line, the Boise State swimming & diving rose to occasion as 13 individuals competed in the finals at the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships, earning the Broncos a seventh place finish, Saturday.
Much like every other day, the Broncos shined brightly throughout the morning preliminaries as they set both school records and swam personal bests in nearly every event, with 11 individuals outright qualifying for the evening finals.
The afternoon platform diving competition featured the talents of freshman Megan Morton. While it may have been the first meet in which Morton competed in the platform this season, there was no way of knowing that as she blew her competition away scoring 106.40 points to place 13th out of 15 competitors.
Prior to the finals official start time, a quartette of Broncos competed in the 1650 freestyle. Leading the way was freshman Nathalie Rohling who finished first in the C Finals with a lifetime best time of 17:29.60, knocking nearly 37 seconds off her previous best. Rohling’s time ranked eighth overall in the event.
Also swimming lifetime best times were senior LiAnne Choitz and freshman Samantha Eichner, who both competed in the D Finals. Choitz swam a 17:57.47 to finish third, knocking 45 seconds off her previous record, while Eichner finished seventh after knocking 21 seconds off her old record. Taking her first stab at the 1650 free this season was junior Kelly Knapp who finished eighth with a time of 19:40.60.
The finals kicked off with the A Finals of the 1650 free, Rachael Meisner led the way for the Broncos with a record time of 17:23.21 for fifth place, while teammate Katelyn LoFland finished 16th overall in the event with a time of 17:44.47.
“This was a great end to our conference championships and our second season of competition,” said head coach Kristin Hill. “Our mile was the top scoring individual event this weekend and we are really proud of Rachael, Nathalie, and Katelyn.”
Immediately following was the 200 backstroke, which showcased the talents of Erica Christianson, Morgan Denny and Andrea Thiltgen in the C Finals, while Denise Green competed in the B Finals. Thiltgen led the way for the Broncos with a third place finish after clocking a time of 2:08.82 to edge out teammate Christianson, who took fourth with a time of 2:10.18 and Denny rounded out the trio with a fifth place finish with a time of 2:10.85. Green proved to be a force to be reckoned with during the B Finals as she swam a season best 2:05.49 to take the title in her heat.
Freshmen Kim Nelson and Johanna Wubbena made a splash during the C Finals of the 100 free. Wubbena clocked a season best time of 53.00 to take second, while Nelson finished sixth with a time of 53.67.
Lauren Keele and Erin Stotts made waves during the C Finals of the 200 breaststroke as Stotts led the way for the Broncos as she swam a 2:27.07 to take second, while Keele took sixth with a time of 2:27.68. Freshman Tara Hahto took to the water in the B Finals of the 200 breast as she took eighth place after clocking a time of 2:25.84.
Freshman Allison Hall has completely rewritten the Boise State record books this year and refuses to stop her reign in the 200 butterfly. Hall not only earned a spot in the A Finals with a record setting time of 2:03.88 during the morning prelims, but took fourth in the finals with a time of 2:04.39. Not to be overshadowed was teammate Sammy Sanchez-O’Dell as she placed third in the C Finals with a season best time of 2:14.31.
“Denise was outstanding in the 200 backstroke today, swimming a lifetime best this morning and then bettering it tonight,” added Hill. “Tara continued to contribute to the team in the 200 breaststroke. Allison’s morning swim in the butterfly was a best by three seconds and she came back tonight and finished fourth overall which was outstanding and a great reward for her effort.”
Closing out the championships was the 400 free relay where the competition was fierce as the Broncos sat just 11 points ahead of the University of San Diego. The quartette of freshmen (Wubbena, Nelson, Green, Rohling) got off to an amazing start with Wubbena completing her leg of the relay in sixth. The competition was stiff throughout, but Rohling touched the wall at the 3:32.38 mark, giving the Broncos an eighth place finish. The time didn’t just set a school record, but crushed the previous record by five seconds.
After all was said and done, the Broncos finished the 2008 WAC Swimming & Diving Championships in seventh place after tallying 243 points, skidding by USD by two points, and outscoring last years total by 133 points.
“Ending with the 400 freestyle relay at a 3:32 was a great culmination to the week,” added Hill. “We look forward to a break for most of the team, spring training, and we continue to be excited about the continued rise in success with our program here at Boise State!”
Complete results are available at www.wacsports.com.
Erica Christianson, 2:10.18 (ranks fourth in the Boise State record books)
Morgan Denny, 2:10.81* (ranks seventh in the Boise State record books)
Samantha Eichner, 2:12.96*
Denise Green, 2:05.49 (school record)
Andrea Thiltgen, 2:08.82 (ranks third in the Boise State record books)
Danielle Blow, 2:38.24*
Holly Chatelain, 2:38.69*
Lauren Keele, 2:26.73* (ranks ninth in the Boise State record books)
Allison Hall, 2:03.88* (school record)
Kim Nelson, 53.51* (ranks third in the Boise State record books)
Jenny Nowatzke, 54.65* (ranks sixth in the Boise State record books)
Johanna Wubbena, 53.00 (school record)
LiAnne Choitz, 17:57.47 (ranks ninth in the Boise State record books)
Samantha Eichner, 18:53.54
Kelly Knapp, 19:40.58
Rachael Meisner, 17.23.21 (school record)
Nathalie Rohling, 17:29.60 (ranks third in the Boise State record books)