Aqua Bears win final dual of season
By HEATHER KENNEDY
OMAHA – In the final regular season dual of the year, the Northern Colorado Swimming & Diving team defeated Nebraska-Omaha, 170-124 on Saturday.
The Bears won 12 of the 16 events on the day and had several multiple race champions along the way.
"From top to bottom we performed really well today," Head Coach Kelly McClanahan said. "The girls were consistent with their times in all three meets this week. The girls needed this win to get them ready for conference. Physically we are, and have been, where we need to be for a great conference meet. We still had a missing link with the other 90% of being a successful athlete; their mental state. This win gave them the confidence they need to gear up for the grand finale."
Junior Courtney Van Oost (Elgin, Ill.) won the 100 back with her time of 59.59 and touched the wall first in the 200 back in 2:06.41. Sophomore Melissa Tillman (Superior, Colo.) also swam a 2:11.7 in the 200 back for second place. Van Oost won her third event of the day in the 400 IM, clocking a 4:37.44 to win by almost seven seconds.
Junior Gina Riggle (Eaton, Colo.) was victorious in the 50 free, clocking a 24.07 and won the 100 fly after timing a 58.23.
Sophomore Kellie Burke (Carlsbad, Calif.) was victorious in the 200 free, swimming a 1:58.23, while Tillman again was second in 1:59.33. Burke came back to win the 500 free in dominating fashion, winning in 5:17.78, almost eight seconds ahead of second place.
Senior Sara Moldenhauer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) swept the two diving events, winning the one-meter board with 261.90 points and the three-meter with 251.47 points. Moldenhauer led a 1-2-3 sweep on the one-meter as freshmen Kelsey Smith (Temecula, Calif.) was second with 226.65 points and Haley Schneider (Longmont, Colo.) was third after scoring 196.12.
"In diving, Haley had a personal best on one-meter and Kellye (Rather) on three-meter," Diving Coach Mark Murdock said. "Sara and Kelsey were able to put a consistent list together and meet their personal best scores."
The quartet of Van Oost, Riggle, freshman Jenny LaPorte (Phoenix, Ariz.) and junior Kylie Rathbone (Lakewood, Colo.) started the afternoon with a win in the 200 medley relay. They combined to swim a 1:48.29, winning the race by over two seconds.
The day ended the way it started, with a Bears' relay team winning the race. The team of Rathbone, Kira Alger (Monument, Colo.), LaPorte and Riggle combined for a 1:37.56, out-touching the A team from Nebraska-Omaha by just 0.10 in the 200 free relay.
Junior Renee Stephens (Loveland, Colo.) finished second in the 100 breaststroke, while Rathbone was right behind her in third. The duo swam times of 1:08.17 and 1:09.06, respectively. Stephens also boasted a second-place finish in the 200 breaststroke after swimming a 2:25.07.
Alger and sophomore Brenna Boese (Billings, Mont.) were second and third, respectively in the 100 free.
The Aqua Bears now have the month of February off from competition to prepare for the WAC Championships, which begin Feb. 27 in San Antonio, Texas.
"I am extremely happy with where the girls are right now," McClanahan concluded. "We have 24 days till the first day of competition. The days will go fast, but it gives us plenty of time to clean up the finer things and rest for our events."