Five-Peat! Rebels Claim Another MWC Title
Feb. 28, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY - The UNLV men cruised on the final day of action to claim their fifth straight league championship, as the Rebels won five events, four in new conference record times on Saturday night at the 2009 Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships held at the Oklahoma City Community College. The UNLV women meanwhile made a strong run at the title but came up just short, and finished as runner-ups to champion BYU for the second straight year.
UNLV also swept the top swimmer awards for the second straight year, as sophomore Kier Maitland was named MWC Men's Swimmer of the Year, while freshman Zsuzsanna Jakabos received the MWC Women's Swimmer of the Year. Maitland is the seventh Rebel in the 10-year history of the league to earn the men's award, while Jakabos is the seventh swimmer from UNLV to be named on the women's side. Jim Reitz was also named MWC Men's Coach of the Year for the sixth time.
The 24th-ranked Rebel men began the night with a 1-2 finish in the 1650 free. Maitland won his second event of the championships by breaking the previous conference record by over 16 seconds, swimming a time of 14:53.08. Classmate John Mendoza would claim second in 15:05.77, 16 seconds ahead of the next highest finisher, and Tyler Bush would claim fourth for UNLV with a time of 15:21.84. All three were NCAA "B" times.
Nick Blank continued the record-breaking swims for UNLV, setting a new league mark in the 200 back as he swam a NCAA "B" time of 1:45.02. Jeff Ellingsen finished fifth in 1:48.75, while Michael Lowenstein took ninth in 1:48.92. Five Rebels would finish in the top seven of the 100 free, led by Calan Eldridge's runner-up performance as he touched the wall in 44.10. Kyle Virva followed in third in 44.15, Steven Nelms was fifth (44.44), Thomas Andolfsson placed sixth (44.47), and Charlie Tapp took seventh (44.49). Nicholas Arneson also scored in the event, finishing 14th in 45.65.
The next league record to fall came in the 200 breast, as UNLV would go 1-2 in the event. Freshman Akos Molnar claimed the individual title in a NCAA "B" time of 1:55.70, while classmate Andrew Morrell touched the wall in 1:57.32, also in a "B" time. Another 1-2 finish for the Rebels came in the 200 fly, with David Seiler finishing in first in 1:44.67 and Daniel Egly in second in 145.64. On the platform, divers Vincent English and Brandon Baker placed 13th and 14th with scores of 213.5 and 202.5, respectively.
In the night's final event, UNLV won the 400 free relay for the sixth time, as Virva, Eldridge, Tapp, and Nelms set a new MWC record time of 2:54.93, a NCAA "B" cut.
UNLV would finish with 886.5 points, Air Force was far back in second with 613. The 273.5-point winning margin is the largest in the 10-year history of the MWC Championships. Wyoming finished third with 551 points, and was followed by BYU in fourth (539.5), TCU in fifth (401), and Utah in sixth (326).
In the first event of the night for the UNLV women, Bailey Kuestermeyer would place third in the 1650 free, swimming a career-best time of 16:45.98. Shawnee Landolt would also score, placing 12th in 17:16.16. Ana Dangalakova would then post the women's first win of the night, taking the 200 back in a new league record and NCAA "B" time of 1:55.94. Lisa Gillespie would finish fifth in 1:58.50, while Amanda Weinbrecht was sixth (1:58.91) and Anja Crawford took seventh (2:00.33).
In the 100 free, Marva Harpak led the way with a 50.00 for fourth place, Megan Clark took ninth in 50.75, and Friderika Szel touched the wall in 51.67 for 15th. Kelsey Clarke was the team's top finisher in the 200 breast, as she was eighth in 2:20.46, while Marley Prothero took ninth (2:19.75) and Alexandra Bejinariu was 16th (2:25.29).
Jakabos just missed out on winning her third event of the championships, as she finished second in the 200 fly, lowering her school record with a "B" time of 1:56.33. Katie Matulic also scored in the finals, placing eighth in 2:03.95. Rachelle Zuccaro became the first women's diver to score in the championships, scoring 193.5 points for 13th place.
BYU finished the meet with 643 points, while UNLV turned in 585.5 for second. Wyoming was third with 483, Utah fourth in 468.5, and Colorado State close behind in fifth with 452.5. Rounding out the field was San Diego State in sixth (375), TCU in seventh (354.5), New Mexico in eighth (211), and Air Force (128).
The next action for both teams will be at the NCAA Championships. Texas A&M is hosting the championships for both the women's and men's this year, with the women's going from March 19-21, while the men's will run from March 26-28.