BOISE, Idaho- A new year brings a new outlook to Boise State swimming and diving. At this time a year ago, head coach Kristin Hill was at the helm of an up-and-coming program in its fourth year of existence. Now, the fifth-year Bronco team enters the 2010-11 season atop the Western Athletic Conference.
Boise State enjoyed strong team performances all season, but none was more satisfying than the three-day show the Broncos put on during the 2010 WAC Championships. Earning gold medals in eight events, including three relays, the team racked up 587 points to claim the program's first conference championship trophy. Amber Boucher picked up individual titles in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, as well as helping all three champion relay teams to victory. For her efforts, Boucher was named WAC Swimmer of the Year.
The success has only made the Broncos hungrier, and the defending WAC champions are set to embark on a new year of challenges and goals. Atop the list for Hill is defending the team championship, and sending swimmers to the NCAA Championships.
"There is no way for us to get around the fact that we want to win the WAC Championship again," Hill said. "But we also want to build on what we have accomplished, and take the next steps as a program. There are a number of swimmers with the potential to become our first set of NCAA qualifiers."
While their sights may be set on end-of-the-year achievements, Hill and the rest of the Broncos know it is a long season. To realize their ultimate goals, the Broncos will focus on improving every day.
"Our goal is always for everybody to have best times," said Hill. "And if that happens, everything else will take care of itself."
The first step in Boise State's title defense comes Friday (Oct. 8), when Rice visits the Boise-West YMCA. The two-day event, which continues Saturday, is the first of two home meets for the Broncos this season, and the only time Boise State will compete at home during the fall semester. Rice is coming off a second-consecutive third-place finish in Conference USA, and returns 16 swimmers from the 2009-10 squad. Owls Head Coach Seth Huston enters his ninth season at the helm of the Rice program, and last year was named Conference USA Coach of the Year.
"This level of competition makes us better as a team," Hill said. "It's also important to me to see new teams from different parts of the country."
The first meet is a traditional dual meet, and it begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. The second day features a relay meet, pitting the Broncos and Owls in a series of non-traditional races, as well as two diving events, beginning Saturday at noon.
Click HERE to see the schedule of events.
Where to be: The West Family YMCA and Boise City Aquatic Center, 5959 N Discovery Way, Boise, ID 83713.
When to be there: Friday, Oct. 8-6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9-Noon
About the Broncos: The 2009-10 Broncos finished 14-4 in dual meets, and went on to win the team title at the WAC Championships. Boise State features a trio of swimmers who each own two individual conference titles in juniors Amber Boucher (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly in 2010) and Stephanie North (100 freestyle in 2009 and 2010), and sophomore Christine Raininger (200 butterfly and 400 IM in 2010). Boucher is the reigning WAC Swimmer of the Year. Every individual school record holder returns to the pool for the Broncos this season.
About the Owls: Seth Huston, 2010 Conference USA Coach of the Year, enters his ninth year as Rice head coach. The Owls return 15 letterwinners and one squad member from the 2009-10 team that finished third at the Conference USA Championships. Rice features two returning individual conference champions.
The series: First meeting.
Click image to enlarge.