Broncos Ready to Make Splash at NCAA Championships

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Amber Boucher, Stevie Hughey, Sydney Johansen and Stephanie North will represent Boise State at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships March 15-17, in Auburn, Ala. It is the second-consecutive appearance at the national meet for Boucher and North.

The senior duo teamed with Hughey and Johansen to qualify Boise State's first relay for the championships. The quartet earned an invitation in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Boucher and North each earned invites in individual events as well, and will look to score enough points to improve on last season's 39th-place finish.

Hughey, a junior, and Johansen, a freshman, will be able to swim in individual events they have acheived NCAA provisional standards All four Broncos are eligible to score at the meet.

Follow it Live: Live video streaming will be available for the entire meet. Prelims for all three days and Thursday's finals can be seen for free at AuburnTigers.com. Finals on Friday and Saturday will be streamed on WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app for mobile devices. Links can be found at BroncoSports.com.

About the Meet: Auburn is hosting the NCAA Championships at the James E. Martin Aquatics Center for the second time in 10 years. A total of 324 swimmers and divers will represent 71 schools at the meet. California is the defending champion.

Prelims will begin at 11 a.m. (CT) each day, while finals will get underway at 7 p.m. (CT).

Broncos in Alabama: Boise State has never competed in the state of Alabama.

MW Champions: Boise State enters the NCAA Championships after claiming the school's first Mountain West title at the conference championships Feb. 22-25, in Oklahoma City. Trailing by one point with one event left, the Broncos set a conference record to win the 400-yard freestyle relay and grab the team crown. Boise State won 10 events, including four relays, to dethrone defending-champion San Diego State, 747-742, in the closest team race in meet history. The Broncos have won three-consecutive conference team championships after taking the Western Athletic Conference in their final two years in the league. In just its sixth year as a program, Boise State swimming and diving has won a conference title in half of its seasons in program history. Amber Boucher and Stephanie North each claimed six gold medals and one silver as they obliterated the Mountain West record book all week. Boucher was named the MW Swimmer of the Year and head coach Kristin Hill was named the MW Swimming Coach of the Year.

Event Breakdown
Amber Boucher: For the second year in a row Boucher swam fast enough to be invited to the NCAA meet in four individual events. All swimmers are limited to three individual events, so Boucher will once again scrap the 200-yard freestyle in favor of her marquee event, the 100-yard butterfly. The events are competed back-to-back. Boucher is seeded 11th in the 100 butterfly, 13th in the 100-yard freestyle and 15th in the 50-yard freestyle. She was a 2011 honorable mention All-American with a 12th-place finish in the 100 butterfly, scoring the first points in school history at nationals. She will look to add to that total this year as she enters the meet in scoring position in all three events and with a year of experience under her belt.

Stephanie North: North also made her debut on the biggest stage in collegiate swimming in 2011, and returns a year stronger. She holds the highest seed of any Bronco with the No. 8 spot in the 100-yard freestyle. North was also invited in the 50-yard freestyle where she checks in at 18th. She is expected to compete in the 200-yard freestyle. The Klamath Falls, Ore., native will be looking to close her Boise State career with an All-American honor. North will also get to show off her ability as an anchor leg against the best sprinters in the country when she closes the Broncos' run at the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Stevie Hughey: Hughey carries a pair of 'B' cuts into the national meet, allowing her to compete in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly individually. She will look to duplicate or improve on an outstanding second leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay that helped the Broncos qualify. The experience of competing at the NCAA Championships will help propel Hughey into a senior season where she will be not only a returning captain but also the top returning sprinter.

Sydney Johansen: One of 58 freshmen swimmers to qualify for the meet- and one of seven from outside the power six conferences -Johansen enters the meet with provisional standards in three individual events. She is expected to enter the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard backstroke. Johansen will look to build on a breakout performance at the MW Championships that saw her take gold, silver and bronze in her individual races. She set school records in all three of the events she earned 'B' cuts, including taking the conference title in the 200 individual medley where she became the first Bronco to break two minutes in the event (1:59.93).

Bronco Relay: Boise State qualified its 200-yard freestyle relay for the NCAA Championships after clocking a 1:29.73 in a time trial at the MW Championships. It is the first time Boise State or a member of the Mountain West has sent a relay to the meet. The Broncos' 200 freestyle relay enters with the 14th-fastest time in the field.

Boucher Among Most Decorated Broncos: Senior Amber Boucher was named the Mountain West Swimmer of the Year after winning two individual gold medals, a silver and four relay golds in helping the Broncos to the conference title. It is Boucher's third conference swimmer of the year award (WAC 2010 and 2011), joining Kellen Moore (football) as the only student-athletes in Boise State history to be named conference player of the year three times in any sport.

Boucher, North Tops in MW History: Senior Amber Boucher set all-time Mountain West records in the 50- and 200-yard freestyles and the 100-yard butterfly at the MW Championships. She held the record in the 100-yard freestyle before teammate Stephanie North broke it to win the event at the Championships. North initially set the MW record in the 50 free during prelims, only to see Boucher claim it as her own moments later. Boucher and North helped the Broncos set three conference relay records at the meet as well.

Swimmers to Watch: Seniors Amber Boucher and Stephanie North were singled out as "Swimmers to Watch" in the 100-yard freestyle by Chris Harrell of CollegeSwimming.com. Said Harrell:

"These two have brought the fledgling Boise State program to prominence and both are ranked in the top 13 here (only Stanford and Georgia can make the same claim). The next step for Boise is to place a swimmer in an A final. Don't be surprised to see one show up there in the 100 free."

Broncos in the Polls: Boise State cracked the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Top 25 for the first time in school history, checking in at No. 23 in the pre-NCAA rankings. The six-member poll committee voted based on the predicted order of finish at the NCAA Championships.

Success in the Classroom: Boise State was named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All America Team for the Fall 2011 semester. The Broncos ranked 23rd among Division I teams with a 3.41 cumulative grade-point average. Boise State has the fifth-best team GPA among schools qualifying student-athletes for the NCAA Championships.

Divers Compete at Zones: Boise State sent two divers to the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships March 8-10. Senior Amanda Burnett earned the Broncos' highest finish at the meet, placing ninth on the platform. Burnett also took 14th on three-meter. Ciera Cortney finished 10th on one-meter.

World Class Broncos: A lofty mark of excellence in the swimming world is Olympic Trials qualifying times (cuts). Six current Broncos have already qualified for their respective Olympic Trials, four from the United States and one Canadian. Amber Boucher, Heather Harper, Rachel Heaney, Chelsea Miller, Stephanie North and Christine Raininger (Canada) attained or improved upon their qualifying times in the past year, firmly supplanting the Broncos on the national radar.

Fresh Faces: Head coach Kristin Hill and the Broncos welcomed nine freshmen to the fold this season. Seven swimmers and two divers made their mark on the program and followed in the footsteps of those before them. With Sydney Johansen's win in the 200-yard individual medley at the MW Championships a Boise State freshman has won at least one individual conference championship each of the past four seasons.

Emily Blasko, Jessica Bottelberghe, Nikki Cannon, Heather Harper and Johansen all contributed points to the Broncos' MW Championship.