Rebels Ready For MWC Championships
Feb. 22, 2005
LAS VEGAS - The UNLV men's and women's swimming and diving teams hope to break BYU's five-year stranglehold as Mountain West Conference Champions as the Rebels began competition in the 2005 MWC Championships this week in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Oklahoma City Community College. The meet begins on Wednesday with the 1-meter diving, the 200 yard medley relay and 800 yard free relay on the first day of competition. The four-day meet will continues through Saturday.
"We're really excited about the upcoming conference championships, we feel like we have the depth we need to challenge for the conference title this year," said UNLV head coach Jim Reitz. "Our goal is simply to be consistent in the lineup. Some years we've been very good at the top but the rest of the lineup didn't do what was needed, I feel this year though we have the depth to step up. Both the teams are very focused on what we need to do, and the meet should really come down to the morning prelims, as we see how many swimmers we advance to the scoring sessions at night."
The Rebel women, 9-4 overall and 6-1 in MWC action during the dual meet season, finished third in last year's meet, but this year have the services of junior Raluca Udriou, the 2003 MWC Swimmer of the Year who sat out last season while training for the Olympics. Udriou, the 100 and 200 backstroke champion in 2003, holds the conference's fastest time in the 100 this year and is the favorite to reclaim both titles. She will also make both medley relays threats to win as well, as she led off the first place 200 yard medley relay in 2002, and the 400 medley relay to first in 2003.
Udriou is not the only returning champion for UNLV, as junior Jessie Bradshaw won the 100 free last year, while classmate Julie Babin was the 400 IM champion in a MWC record time of 4:20.58. UNLV also has several other swimmers ranked in the top three of the conference in their events entering this week, including Amber Walker (3rd in the 50 free), Marina Sandback (2nd in the 100 free), Shayna Burns (2nd in the 100 and 200 breast), and Kim Bonney (3rd in the 200 breast). UNLV also has the top 200 free relay time in the MWC this year.
Though the men finished tied for fourth in the league with a 1-3 MWC mark (6-4 overall), they boast some of the top talent in the conference, which helped the Rebels post wins over two ranked teams this year (Arizona State, North Carolina). Expected to lead the UNLV charge will be senior Jonathan Hugo and junior Joe Bartoch. Hugo is a five-time MWC champion, including having won two-straight titles in the 50 free and the 100 back, and is looking to defend both events this year. Bartoch meanwhile was the 100 fly champion in 2003, and has become one of the top flyers in the nation, and is also a threat to score high in the 50 free after a tie for fourth in last year's meet.
Adam Martinson was a MWC champion for UNLV last year, taking the 200 back, while Hugo finished second to complete a 1-2 sweep. Two more Rebels have won titles in past meets, as Patrick Adams was the 100 breast champion in 2002, and Michael Day took the 200 fly title in 2003.