Three Event Wins Keep Broncos in Hunt

OKLAHOMA CITY- Boise State swimming and diving won three events, including a 1-2 finish in the 50-yard freestyle, Thursday at the Mountain West Championships. The Broncos are in second place in the team standings, trailing San Diego State by four points, 299-295.

A strong morning carried over to the evening session and the 400-yard medley relay kicked it up another notch to start finals. Boise State's team of Jessica Bottelberghe, Sydney Johansen, Amber Boucher and Stephanie North ran away from the field and shattered the Mountain West record by clocking a 3:35.59.

Bottelberghe led off with a personal best 55.18 in the backstroke. Johansen, whose night was just getting started, took over the breaststroke and swam the second-best split in the race. Still, the Broncos were third at the midway point and trailed Wyoming by more than a second. Boucher hopped in and quickly made up the deficit. She had already taken the lead after her first 50 yards and kept up the pace to finish her 100 in 51.82. North ensured victory with a split of 48.23, a full second faster than anyone else.

Boucher and North were not done setting conference records. After trading the 50 freestyle record in prelims, North breaking the old mark by one one-hundredth and Boucher besting that by the same margin, the senior duo had one more chance to claim the record as their own. In the finals it was Boucher's 22.31 edging out North's 22.33. It is the third-straight year the two have finished first and second in the 50 freestyle at the Broncos' conference championship meet. Stevie Hughey went under the 23-second mark and finished fifth in 22.93.

Just before the sprinters took over the spotlight, Johansen became the Broncos' first individual MW Champion, stealing the 200-yard individual medley. The freshman owned the ninth-fastest time in the conference entering the championships and qualified fourth for finals. In the evening session she shaved two and a half seconds off of her time to become the first Bronco and eighth MW swimmer to break the two-minute barrier, finishing in 1:59.93. Johansen stayed in the lead pack during the butterfly, and was still in a dead heat after backstroke. She took over the race with a strong breaststroke and held on for the win during the freestyle leg. Johansen's win continues the streak of Bronco freshmen winning an individual conference title, it has now happened the last four seasons.

The previous school record of 2:01.94 was initially set by classmate Jessica Bottelberghe at this season's Missouri Invitational. Bottelberghe tied that mark on her way to winning the consolation final by more than a full second.

Christine Raininger swam a career-best 2:02.21 to finish fifth in the championship final.

Jennifer Cahill was strong in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing fourth with a school record 4:49.81. Cahill broke her own record twice Thursday, in the event. Cahill's finish and a win by UNLV's Jessica Heim helped break up one of San Diego State's strongest events. Emily Blasko and Rachel Heaney took fourth and fifth in the consolation final, respectively.

Tana Loan advanced to the championship final of three-meter diving. She qualified eighth and moved up one spot with a career-best 259.85. The Broncos had three divers in the consolation final. Amanda Burnett won the 'B' Final with a school-record score of 306.15. Ciera Cortney finished just behind her with a 287.60 and Lexi Pfeiffer took eighth in the heat.

North also set the school record in the 100-yard backstroke during a morning time trial. She clocked a 54.29, swimming all by herself.

Competition picks back up Friday, with five individual events and the 200-yard freestyle relay. Diving takes a break from championship events, but the teams will compete in a synchronized diving exhibition.

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