Bronco Swimmers Shine at Sectional Meets

GRESHAM, Ore.- Stephanie North took home two individual medals while Amber Boucher and Rachel Heaney each grabbed one at the 2011 Western Region Sectional Championships, July 20-23, in Gresham, Ore. Six members of the Boise State swimming and diving team competed at the meet, which was part of the USA Swimming/Speedo Championship Series. For the Broncos, it offered an opportunity to swim in a 50-meter pool, which they took advantage of to the tune of five Olympic Trials qualifying times.

North earned an Olympic Trials qualifying time (known as a 'cut') while placing third in the 100-meter freestyle. The rising senior improved upon her Olympic Trials cut on her way to a second-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle.

Boucher finished in the top four in each of her four individual events: 50-meter freestyle (third); 100-meter freestyle (fourth); 100-meter butterfly (fourth) and 200-meter freestyle (fourth). She picked up the first two Olympic Trials cuts of her career in the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle. The rising senior nearly had a third trials cut in the 100 freestyle, missing the Olympic Trials standard by one one-hundredth of a second in her preliminary swim.

"It felt really good to see my times on the scoreboard and know they were trials cuts," Boucher said. "I was so happy, especially after I was so close in the 100 free."

With a handful of qualifying times for the 2011 USA Swimming National Championships (nationals) already in tow, the sectional meet served as a barometer for most of the Broncos with their training focused on the national championships Aug. 2-6, in Stanford, Calif.

"The team exceeded expectations this week," said head coach Kristin Hill. "I knew Amber (Boucher) and Stephanie (North) had a shot at Olympic Trials cuts, but for both of them to do as well as they did in all of their events is really outstanding. We look forward to even faster times at nationals."

The meet went according to plan for the swimmers.

"I wanted to get the trials cuts this week so I wasn't feeling the pressure at nationals. I wasn't worried, because I know we have been doing the right things in training and the times will be there, but it is a weight off my shoulders," North said as Boucher nodded in agreement.

Olympic Trials cuts can only be attained in a 50-meter pool. Qualifying times for the national championships can be met in 25-yard pools, the same course used for NCAA standards.

Heaney, a rising sophomore, earned four top-20 finishes, including a silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly. Heaney was below the Olympic Trials qualifying standard in the event, a cut she already carried into the meet. She finished 11th in the 400-meter individual medley, 13th in the 800-meter freestyle and 18th in the 400-meter freestyle.

Kelsy Diener teamed with Boucher and North on four relays, earning top-10 finishes in each. The squad qualified for nationals and earned a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay. Boucher clocked the fastest lead-off time of the race, narrowly missing the 100-meter freestyle Olympic Trials standard for the third time. She handed off to Diener, who cracked the one-minute mark for the third time during the meet. North anchored the team, flying through her 100 meters in 55.66, the fastest split in the race by nearly a second and one of only two legs to be clocked in less than 57 seconds on the day.

Diener, a rising senior, had her best individual performance in the 100-meter freestyle placing 31st.

Rising junior Jennifer Cahill claimed her highest finish in the 800-meter freestyle, finishing 26th.

Incoming freshman Jessica Bottelberghe also competed at the meet, making five finals. Bottelberghe earned a pair of 22nd-place finishes (400-meter individual medley and 100-meter backstroke) and won the consolation final of the 200-meter individual medley.

Athletes at the meet represented their USA Swimming club teams. North, Boucher and Diener helped lead Boise YMCA Swim Team to a fifth-place finish in the women's team standings.

While the Broncos had their largest contingent in Gresham, Boise State swimming and diving student-athletes took part in the USA Swimming/Speedo Champions Series at locations across the United States.

"Our Boise State teammates competed really well at sectionals around the country this week," Hill said. "It was a great showing for Bronco swimming and diving all over the nation."

Clovis, Calif.
Incoming freshman Sydney Johansen earned a nationals cut in the 200-meter breaststroke, placing fourth in the event at the 2011 California-Nevada Summer Championships in Clovis, Calif. Johansen also claimed an eighth-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke. The Bronco-to-be was joined by current Broncos Stevie Hughey and Emily Irvin at the sectional meet for athletes representing club teams from California and Nevada, July 20-24. Hughey, a rising junior, finished sixth in the 50-meter freestyle 23rd in the 100-meter butterfly and 28th in the 100-meter freestyle. Irvin, a rising senior, earned her best finish when she took 21st in the 200-meter individual medley.

Columbia, Mo.
A trio of young Broncos took part in the Central Zone Region VIII sectional meet July 20-23, in Columbia, Mo. Rising sophomore Brooke Balogh claimed the best finish with a fourth-place showing in the 200-meter butterfly. Balogh also scored top-16 finishes in three more events, the 400-meter individual medley (ninth), 400-meter freestyle (13th) and 100-meter butterfly (14th). Incoming freshman Megan Myers claimed an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter freestyle. Myers also notched 11th- and 13th-place finishes in the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley, respectively. Rising sophomore Olivia Harrell earned her best place in the 100-meter butterfly, touching 38th.

Iowa City, Iowa
Incoming freshmen Emily Blasko and Emily Campbell competed at the Central Zone Section 1 meet July 21-24, in Iowa City, Iowa. Campbell placed 14th in the 200-meter breaststroke for her best finish on the week. Blasko finished sixth in the 1500-meter freestyle, touching the wall in a time better than the pool record heading into the day. She also took eighth in the 800-meter freestyle event. Blasko carried her Aquajets Swim Team to a fourth-place finish in the women's team standings.

Boucher, Diener, Heaney, Hughey, Johansen, Miller and North will all travel to the 2011 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships, Aug. 2-6, in Stanford, Calif.

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