OKLAHOMA CITY -- The BYU women's and No. 15 men's swimming and diving teams won the Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships for the second year in a row, Saturday. The men battled back from an 8.5-point deficit to defeat UNLV by 11.5 points, while the women's team dominated the competition all four days, winning by 279 points.
"This was the best tapered team we have ever had in my 20 years at BYU," women's coach Stan Crump said. "We just had a phenomenal meet, we had people just dropping out of the sky with unbelievable swims." Crump was named the 2001 MWC Women's Coach of the Year.
The BYU women's team dominated the meet from day one and never relinquished the lead en route to its second consecutive MWC Championship. Freshman Tamber Covington was BYU's lone winner, taking first-place in the 200 breast, setting a new meet-record with a time of 2:14.69 while Amanda Grant, Jamie Lambert and Jennifer Tasker finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Ashlee Rumfallow tied for second in the 200 back while teammates Melissa Thompson, Tina Adkinson and Amy McClellan finished fourth, sixth and seventh. Sophomore Heidi Lietz swam to a fourth-place finish in the 100 free while Monica Ferrell had a seventh-place finish in the 200 butterfly. Freshman Codi Jensen was BYU's top finisher in the 1650 free, coming in fifth place. The 400 free relay team of Rumfallow, Grant, Amy Thompson and Lietz finished fourth for the Cougars.
Junior Tessa Clark won the silver in the platform diving event, scoring 319.55 points. Teammates Anna Tutunnikova and Kelli Einfeldt finished fourth and sixth with scores of 305.80 and 293.60, respectively.
The lead changed three times on the men's side before BYU emerged victorious. Sweeping the top three platform diving medals helped seal the win for the Cougars. Sophomore Justin Wilcock won the
gold with a new meet-record 496.25 points. Viraj Patil and Aaron Russell finished second and third
with scores of 462.15 and 451.20, respectively. Wilcock was also named the 2001 MWC Men's Diver of the Year.
A turning point in the meet came when BYU swept the top three spots in the 200 backstroke event. All-American Arunas Savickas, Gary Tan and Chris Johnson finished first, second and third to gain valuable points for the Cougars. Nick Tobler, who was named the 2001 MWC Men's Freshman of the Year, finished second in the 200 breast with a time of 2:00.75. Sophomore Jeff Mason picked up a third-place finish in the 100 free while teammates Mike Mullen and Jay Buys finished sixth and eighth. In the 1650 free, Ryan Ayres swam to a third-place finish while Alexander Denke and Rob Morris picked up sixth- and seventh-place finishes. Josh Johnston was BYU's top finisher in the 200 butterfly, swimming to a sixth-place finish. The 400 free relay team of Savickas, Mullen, Mason and Tan had an important second-place finish, assuring the Cougars of their second consecutive MWC Championship.
The men's and women's swimmers will participate in the USA Regional March 8-10, while the divers will head to Federal Way, Wash., to compete in the Zone E Diving Championships March 9-10.
Mountain West Conference Awards
Stan Crump 2001 Women's Coach of the Year
Justin Wilcock 2001 Men's Diver of the Year
Nick Tobler 2001 Men's Freshman of the Year
Final Team Scores
BYU 828.50 BYU 815
UNLV 817 Colorado St. 536
Air Force 585 UNLV 480.50
Wyoming 530.50 Wyoming 425
Utah 310 Utah 420
San Diego St. 357.50
Air Force 341
The women's and the No. 15 men's swimming and diving teams are headed to Oklahoma City, Okla., to participate in the Mountain West Conference swimming and diving championships. The four-day event begins Wednesday with relays and concludes Saturday.
Regular Season Wrap-Up
The men finished the dual meet season ranked No. 15 in the nation with a perfect 12-0 record, the first time a men's team has gone undefeated in BYU history. The women compiled a 14-4 record with its only conference losses coming to UNLV and Colorado St.
Mountain West Conference Honors
BYU athletes were honored 15 times this season as the Mountain West Conference Swimmer and Diver of the Week, more than any other conference opponent. Sophomore diver Kelli Einfeldt led the way with three such honors. Others winning the honor once were swimmers Tamber Covington, Heidi Lietz, Melissa Thompson and diver Anna Tutunnikova. For the men, senior All-American Arunas Savickas was honored two times while sophomore diving All-American Aaron Russell also won the award twice. Gary Tan, Jeff Mason, and divers Justin Wilcock and Viraj Patil, all won the award once.
BYU Compared to the Rest of the Conference
Savickas is a leading candidate to be named conference Swimmer of the Year, as he holds conference-best times in three events (200, 500 and 1000 free) headed into this week's championships. Tan, a sophomore, is also the conference's top swimmer in the 200 IM, the 100 back and the 200 back. Freshman Nick Tobler holds runner-up times in the 100 and the 200 breast. Russell, Wilcock and Patil are also among the top conference divers for the Cougars. The men have conference-best times in all five relays. For the women, senior Jennifer Tasker has the conference's best time in the 100 breast while Lietz has the top time in the 50 free and the second-fastest time in the 100 free. Amy McClellan, Covington and Ashlee Rumfallow all have runner-up conference times. Einfeldt is the leading scorer on the 3-meter board, with Tutunnikova close behind.
Overall Team Competition
For the men, the race for the conference crown will likely be between BYU and UNLV. Leading the Rebels are Piotr Krzyskow, Jacint Simon and Andrew Livingston. Krzyskow leads the conference in both sprints, the 50 and the 100 free, while Simon leads the conference in the 1650 free, and has runner-up times in the 500 and 1000 free behind behind Savickas. Livingston has conference-best times in the 100 and the 200 fly. All UNLV relay teams are second in the conference behind BYU. On the women's side, it will be a battle between UNLV, Colorado State and BYU, with any of those three teams capable of grabbing the MWC title. UNLV does not carry any divers, so the pressure will be on the swimmers to make up the points in the individual and relay races. BYU fell to Colorado State and UNLV in the regular season. UNLV swimmers have conference-best times in six events and four of the five relays, while CSU swimmers have two conference-best times and also have the best time in the 400 free relay.
Last Year's Conference Championships
Several of last year's winning athletes return this season. Savickas won two individual titles (100 and 200 back), one relay (800 free relay) and had a runner-up finish in the 500 free last year. Rob Morris and Alex Denke also swam on the winning 800 free relay team. Russell won the 1-meter springboard while sophomore Amanda Grant won her first-ever collegiate race by winning the 100 breast.
BYU's swimmers will have the opportunity to qualify either automatically or provisionally for the NCAA Championships in March with their times at the MWC Championships. Savickas and freshman Gary Tan have excellent chances at qualifying for the men, while junior Jennifer Tasker could get a provisional mark for the women. Divers will have the chance to qualify at the Zone E Qualifying Meet March 9-10.
Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championship results will be available daily, from Wednesday to Saturday, on the official BYU athletics Web site, www.byucougars.com.