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March 2, 2009
By Staff Report
The University of Nevada won its third consecutive Western Athletic Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship on Saturday night at the Palo Alto College Natatorium in San Antonio, Texas. The Wolf Pack finished the meet with 639 points followed by Northern Arizona with 623.
New Mexico State was third with 572, while San Jose State placed fourth with 511.5. Hawai‘i finished fifth with 463.5 followed by Boise State (391), San Diego (248), Idaho (170) and Fresno State (121).
Nevada senior Courtney Eads earned WAC Swimmer of the Year honors, the second straight year a Wolf Pack swimmer has earned the award following Margaret Doolittle’s honor in 2008.
Hawai‘i junior Emma Friesen was named the WAC Diver of the Year, giving the Rainbow Wahine that award in seven of the last eight seasons. New Mexico State head coach Rick Pratt was named the WAC Coach of the Year after leading his team to a third place finish, while Mike Brown of Hawai‘i was voted Diving Coach of the Year for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in his career. San Jose State’s Heather Denman was awarded the Spartans’ first Freshman of the Year award.
In the first race of the night, San Diego’s Sarah Gleason won the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:47.18, the first gold for the Toreros since the 2006 WAC Championships. She beat New Mexico State’s Ana Smith (16:51.00) and Northern Arizona’s Kate Schafer (16:58.14).
Denman won her second individual gold medal, winning the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:59.58. The Spartans were 1-2 as Kate Nelson took the silver in a time of 2:00.59.
Fresno State’s Heidi Gjoen was third in a time of 2:00.65, the first medal for a Bulldog this year.
Boise State freshman Stephanie North picked up the Broncos’ first ever gold medal with a time of 50:41 in the 100 freestyle. Her teammate, Amber Boucher, was second (50.60), just ahead of San Jose State Lauren Mar (50.63).
New Mexico State freshman Maria Spies swept the breaststroke events after winning the 200 in 2:12.02, an NCAA provisional qualifying time. Nevada’s Summer Halwas-Morgan was second for the second straight year with another provisional time of 2:13.57, while Northern Arizona’s Danielle Filipp took the bronze in 2:16.02.
Eads won her third event of the meet, taking the title in the 200 butterfly in 1:56.87. Last year’s champion, Nevada’s Kim Kabesh was second (1:58.07) while Elliko Heimbach of Hawai‘i was third in 1:58.16. All three swam NCAA provisional times.
Raquel Bartlow of Hawai‘i won the platform diving with a score of 263.90, giving the Rainbow Wahine a sweep of the three diving events. Nevada’s Candice Minette placed (211.20) while New Mexico State’s Mariesa Cloud was third (210.25).
Nevada then clinched the team title by winning the 400 free relay in an NCAA provisional time of 3:22.45 with the team of Kabesh, Doolittle, Danielle Maddoc and Eads. Boise State took the silver (3:23.82) and Hawai‘i won bronze (3:23.91).
Individual Honors (as voted upon by the WAC coaches) Swimmer of the Year - Courtney Eads, Sr., Nevada Diver of the Year - Emma Friesen, Jr., Hawai‘i Freshman of the Year - Heather Denman, San Jose State Diving Coach of the Year - Mike Brown, Hawai‘i Coach of the Year - Rick Pratt, New Mexico State.