Challenge Awaits Broncos at Rice Invite

Boise State women's swimming and diving faces its first road test of the season Friday and Saturday, when the Broncos travel to Houston for the Holiday Inn & Suites Med Center Invitational hosted by Rice University.

Boise State will take on Arkansas, Houston, Nebraska and the host Owls at the two-day, three-session meet. All swimming events will be competed at Rice University Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. The diving events will be held at the University of Houston.

Friday's action starts at 4 p.m. (CT), while the two sessions Saturday begin at 9 a.m. (CT) and 1:30 p.m. (CT). For a complete schedule of events, see page 3 of the full release.

ABOUT THE BRONCOS: Boise State has earned a duel win and an invitational victory to kick off the 2011-12 campaign. The Broncos knocked off in-state rival Idaho in the season opener, and continued the strong start with a win in their own invitational meet against New Mexico and Seattle. Eleven different Broncos have won events this season, and the relays remain unbeaten.

Boise State returns 16 letterwinners from last year's Western Athletic Conference Champions. The Broncos won 10 events, including all five relays, en route to posting the ninth-highest point total in meet history (835) and taking their second-straight conference crown. Amber Boucher was named the WAC Swimmer of the Year for the second-consecutive season, and head coach Kristin Hill was named Coach of the Year. Boucher and fellow senior Stephanie North competed at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

Last Time Out: The Broncos cruised to victory in their own invitational meet Oct. 14-15, at the Boise-West Family YMCA. Boise State won 15 of the 19 events on its way to scoring 885 points to down New Mexico and Seattle. The Lobos finished second ad Seattle was third.

Senior Amber Boucher won three individual events and guided all four relay teams to victory during the meet. Boucher earned Mountain West Swimmer of the Week for her efforts.

Boise State set a pool record in the 400-yard medley relay, and the Bronco divers claimed three spots on the all-time top-10 lists at Boise State.

Scouting the Field
About the Owls: Rice and head coach Seth Huston are coming off the swimming program's first conference championship. The Owls won the 2011 Conference USA Championship with a team effort. Rice does not sponsor diving and featured just one event champion (Quincy Christian, 400 IM), but had the depth to end SMU's streak of 14-straight conference titles (including WAC crowns). Huston was named C-USA Coach of the Year for the second-straight season. The Owls are 1-1 this season, knocking off Miami, Oct. 22. Rice boasts the best 400-yard freestyle relay team in the conference this season, 29th-best in the country.

THE SERIES: The Broncos and Owls met for the first time last season when Rice came to Boise to start the season. Boise State won a traditional duel and a relay meet to take a 2-0 lead in the all-time series. The teams have never met in an invitational setting.

About the Razorbacks: Arkansas enters the weekend with a 0-2 record, falling to Auburn and Florida in Southeastern Conference action to start the season. The Razorbacks finished 8th at the 2011 SEC Championships and 32nd at the NCAA Championships a year ago. Head coach Jeff Poppell is back for his 10th season at the helm and returns one All-American in Chelsea Franklin. A junior, Franklin leads the Razorback distance crew after placing seventh in the mile at the national championships. Arkansas features at least one swimmer in the top 100 of the NCAA in every event, including 14 top-25 times. Kesha Naylor is the reigning SEC Diver of the Week.

THE SERIES: First meeting. This marks the first time Boise State will compete against a team from the SEC outside of the NCAA Championships. There is one familiar face as former Idaho swimmer Shana Lim now competes for Arkansas.

About the Cougars: Houston is off to a 3-1 start in dual-meet competition, with its only loss coming Oct. 21, against Miami. Head coach Augie Busch is in his first season at Houston. Busch most recently coached at his alma mater Arizona, including in 2008 when the Wildcat men and women swept the NCAA Championships. Busch also spent two years as an assistant at Arkansas. The Cougars finished fourth at last year's Conference USA Championships. Two Houston divers return from trips to the NCAA Championships, marking the 11th-straight season UH was represented at the national meet.

THE SERIES: First meeting.

About the Cornhuskers: Nebraska started its first year in the Big Ten Conference with a win against South Dakota State, Oct. 22, winning 13 events. The Cornhuskers are coming off a fifth-place finish at the 2011 Big XII Championships. Pablo Morales is in his 11th season as head coach at Nebraska. Morales is an Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder in the 100-meter butterfly and won an NCAA-record 11 individual titles during his career at Stanford. The Huskers feature five seniors, one of which has ties to Boise State. Bobbi Balogh is the sister of Bronco sophomore Brooke.

THE SERIES: Boise State and Nebraska met at the past two Missouri Invitationals. The Broncos bested the Cornhuskers at the 2010 meet to take second overall, after finishing just behind Nebraska in 2009 for fourth place.

Boucher Honored: Senior Amber Boucher was named Mountain West Swimmer of the Week for the week of Oct. 9-16, after leading the Broncos to victory in the Boise State Invite. Boucher won three individual events and guided all four relay teams to wins during the two-day meet. It is Boucher's seventh-career weekly conference honor, her first from the Mountain West.

North Best of the (Mountain) West: Senior Stephanie North was named MW Swimmer of the Week for competition from Sept. 23-Oct. 8. North won three individual events and one relay in the Broncos' season opener against Idaho  Oct. 8, in Boise. North won the 50-, 100-  and 200-yard freestyle races and swam the anchor leg of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay team.

Atop the Mountain: Boise State owns marks that top the conference in three events. Amber Boucher leads the Mountain West in the 100-yard freestyle, Jessica Bottelberghe has the fastest time in the 200-yard individual medley and the Broncos posted the quickest 400-yard medley relay time of the season. The Broncos have 15 additional top-five times in individual events. For a more complete listing of where the Broncos rank in the conference and nationally, see page 7.

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