Swimming finishes fourth at Winter Invitational
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Head Coach Kelly McClanahan said the third day of the meet would be the best for the Northern Colorado swimming & diving team and her team didn't disappoint as the Bears moved up one spot to finish fourth with 273 points.
"Sunday night I told the girls I did not want to finish below fourth place," said McClanahan. "I was confident we could pass Fresno Pacific with our last day being our strongest when it's the weakest for most teams. Based on performances getting better each day, I knew they could handle this pressure. We surpassed them by 50 points, and the girls proved they know how to get the job done. We work daily in practice under pressure situations and I know this helped them have the focus necessary to make this leap. I am very happy where we are mentally."
Sophomore Courtney Van Oost posted the fastest time in the preliminaries of the 200 yard backstroke in a season-best time of 2:02.55. In the finals, Van Oost posted a career-best time of 2:01.43, missing the school record by just 0.89.
Senior Sam Leonard also qualified for the 'A' finals after swimming a 2:06.93, missing her career-best time by just 0.68. She came back to touch the wall in fourth place with a career-best time of 2:04.81. Her time moves her into fourth all-time at Northern Colorado.
Freshman Melissa Tillman swam a career-best time of 2:07.31 to qualify ninth, while freshman Hannah Abelein qualified 14th with a personal best time of 2:08.49. Tillman finished eighth in the finals with a time of 2:10.22, while Jamie Byrne and Abelein were 15th and 16th, respectively.
In the 100 free, freshman Brenna Boese touched the wall in 53.50 with a personal best time and then bettered that with a 53.23 in the finals for 11th place. Sophomore Gina Riggle finished 16th after swimming a 54.20 in the finals, however she had a 53.61 in the preliminaries taking over 2.5 seconds off her season best time. Senior JJ Smith won the 'C' final, posting a season-best time of 53.62.
Riggle came back for fourth in the preliminaries of the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:23.73, while sophomore Renee Stephens was eighth in 2:25.98. In the finals, Riggle posted a career-best time of 2:21.22 to finish fourth overall. Her time is also the second-fastest in school history. Stephens narrowly missed her career-best time after clocking a 2:24.34 for seventh place.
Hannah Halstrom swam a career-best time of 2:10.45 in the preliminaries of the 200 butterfly to qualify for the 'B' final. She then took another two seconds off her prelim time for a 2:08.42 in the finals to finish 11th. Her time moves her into seventh on the Northern Colorado top 10 list.
Freshman Gina Cernohous placed ninth in the 1650 free after swimming 17:40.42, which is the seventh-fastest time in school history. Fellow freshman Casey Wolter (17:44.25) and junior Tatum Boehnke (17:47.39) finished 12th and 13th, respectively and Wolter established the eighth-best time at UNC with her time.
The Bears quartet of Kira Alger, Smith, Van Oost and Boese concluded the Winter Invitational by swimming a 3:33.31 in the 400 freestyle relay to finish in sixth place and post the eighth-fastest time in school history.
Junior Sara Moldenhauer also had a strong outing during the three days. In the three-meter she placed second with 277.45 points and in the one-meter she finished fourth overall with a score of 252.85. Her three-meter total ranks 10th on the top performances list at Northern Colorado and is just 4.5 points off her best mark of 281.95 from last year's MPSF Championship.
"The girls exceeded any expectations I had for this meet," said McClanahan. "Coming off hard training during finals week, and only 2-3 days of rest normally does not produce these results. A full rest consists of 14+ days, and they still performed as good or better than their best ever swims. We set 36 new All-Time top 10 times. I can't wait to see how we swim at conference in February. These results make us all a lot more confident in our level of competitiveness at MPSF, and I expect us to move up the ranks.
The team takes almost a month off from competition, returning to the pool at the Maverick Meet in Grand Junction, Colo., on Jan. 14.
"The crucial part of the year is now," concluded McClanahan. "Training on their own over winter break to ensure their levels of fitness and ensure even better results in nine weeks. I have full faith they will get the job done at home as they have here. They have a new fire lit, and it will carry them through these next two weeks of home training."