Broncos Take Over First With Four Wins

OKLAHOMA CITY- Boise State grabbed the lead in the team standings Friday, at the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships. The Broncos won four events to take a three-point lead over San Diego State into the final day of competition.

Amber Boucher set a Mountain West record in the 100-yard butterfly and lifted the Broncos to another in leading off the winning 200-yard freestyle relay.

Stevie Hughey, Sydney Johansen and Stephanie North joined Boucher on the relay team to start the evening session. The squad clocked a 1:30.14. The time ranks in the top 20 nationally, and beat the field by 1.5 seconds.

Boucher won the 100-yard butterfly in 52.38, giving her three conference championships in the event. Her preliminary time of 52.30 is an all-time MW record. Hughey also made the championship final of the 100 butterfly, placing fourth with a career-best 54.46.

In the first individual event of the night, the 400-yard individual medley, Christine Raininger held on to her top qualifying spot and pulled of a win. Raininger broke her own school record with a 4:16.20. She held off a hard-charging Melanie Garibaldi of San Diego State in the freestyle portion of the race to secure the 20 points for Boise State.

North also won an individual event, claiming her second-career conference crown in the 200-yard freestyle. The senior just missed her career best with a 1:47.01, but it was more than enough for the win. She started in front with the fastest first lap and pulled away from the field with the fastest final 50 yards. North finished second in the event at her first two conference championships.

Johansen also had a record-setting performance in her individual event, the 100-yard breaststroke. She set the school record to qualify second in prelims, but came back even stronger at night. Johansen clocked a 1:01.42 in the final, but came up just short of her second event win, taking the silver medal. She ranks No. 2 all-time in the Mountain West in the event.

The Broncos had three swimmers in the championship final of each the 400 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. Rachel Heaney and Chelsea Miller finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the individual medley event. Emily Irvin and Heather Harper took fourth and sixth in the breaststroke.

Irvin swam back-to-back events Friday, taking seventh in the consolation final of the 200 freestyle before her podium performance in the breaststroke.

Jessica Bottelberghe scored the Broncos' top finish in the 100-yard backstroke, taking sixth. Nikki Cannon took 14th after placing sixth in the consolation final.

Boise State outscored the Aztecs in three of the five individual events, Friday, but SDSU took advantage of its strengths to score 50 points in the 200 freestyle and best the Broncos by 24 points in the 100 backstroke. The difference now is the 200 freestyle relay where SDSU was fourth overall, as Wyoming out-touched the Aztecs by less than one-tenth of a second.

As expected, it all comes down to Saturday for the team title. Boise State and SDSU will trade strengths as the events wear on. The meet may be decided by the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, in which Boise State is the top seed.

There was no championship diving event Friday, but the divers did not have the day off. Boise State held a practice in the morning to get ready for Saturday's platform event. After the swimming events, there was an exhibition three-meter synchronized diving competition. The Broncos' tandem of Ciera Cortney and Lexi Pfeiffer placed third.

Diving returns with the platform event Saturday, and it could go a long way in determining the championship. The Broncos have three in the top 16 of the conference in the event including the top qualifier, Amanda Burnett. The Aztecs have four top-16 performers.

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