Rebels Open Season Friday
Oct. 18, 2006
LAS VEGAS -
The UNLV men's and women's swimming and diving teams will kick off the 2006-07 season on Friday at Arizona State.
Head Coach Jim Reitz Comments on facing ASU "It is always a great meet with Arizona State, and normally a humbling experience. The good thing is that (ASU head coach) Mike's teams will be as beat up as ours. That training certainly levels the playing field. Our women don't match up quite as good as the men. We just hope to give them an honest meet."
WOMEN Preview: The UNLV women's swimming and diving team, coming off a third-place finish in last year's Mountain West Conference, looks to rebound to the 2005 form which saw the Rebels win the MWC Championship. The good news, however, is that UNLV returns a highly talented group, including a group of three now-sophomores that combined for eight top-eight finishes at the MWC meet. With their sights set on the MWC Championship, the women get underway this season as they travel to Arizona State Friday for a 5 p.m. duel meet with the Sun Devils. The meet has also been selected as the College Duel Meet of the Week by SwimmingWorldMagazine.com.
Who to Watch: For UNLV, the strengths look to be the free and breast strokes for Head Coach Jim Reitz. Returning to the freestyle group is a pair of seniors, Marina Sandback and Katie Wronn. Sandback was runner-up in the 50 free at the 2005 championships, and took fifth in last year's meet, with Wronn finishing sixth. Fellow senior Lani Seaman will look to build on her fourth-place finish in the 1650 free at last year's MWC Swim.
The breaststroke group is quite possibly the best in the league, boasting three top-10 finishers in last year's conference meet. Kim Bonney was the 2005 champion in the 200 breast, while sophomore Bailey Kuestermeyer was runner-up a year ago in that event. Senior Norah Vogan gives the Rebels some depth, as she posted a pair of top-10 finishes in the MWC meet.
The backstroke for UNLV will be led by a pair of sophomores, Ana Dangalakova and Amanda Weinbrecht. Weinbrecht was top-six in both distances in the conference swim, while Dangalakova finished fourth in the 200 back. At butterfly, Sandback again will be looked upon to lead the Rebels. She posted two top-three finishes at the MWC Championships, and currently holds the school record in the 100 fly.
The IM performers surprised almost everyone a season ago, as Dangalakova turned in a championship swim in the 400, and Bonney took second in the 200. Both look to build on that success, with Kuestermeyer also a strong asset in the Individual Medley.
The divers look to return to its form from two years ago, after struggling at the conference championships last season. The Rebels return sophomore Brandy Chapman and junior Caitlin Kelly, along with welcoming in freshman Kendall Scmid.
Newcomers: The coaching staff is excited about the addition of the newcomers this season. Marva Harpak, a talented rookie from Kiryat Tivon, Israel, will swim the 50, 100, and 200 free, with Roxy Camuso looking to contribute in the 200 free. Erin King and Brianna Barfield, both distance freestylers, will be counted on to score for UNLV. King also will swim IM, along with classmate Kristen Hemplman. Nakita Buenbrazo will compete in the backstroke swims, while Marra Erwin, a freshman from Sherwood, Ore., will swim both the 100 and 200 butterfly.
Scouting the Sun Devils: You cannot talk about ASU women's swimming without starting the conversation with All-American junior Caitlin Andrew. Andrew, ASU's record holder in the 100 free, 100 back and 100 butterfly, had team-bests in five strokes and was the PAC-10 champion in the 100 butterfly. In 2006, Andrew finished second at the NCAA meet in the 100 butterfly. Amy Konowalik will lead the IM team, as she competed in the 400 IM at the NCAA Championship meet. Jen Beckberger and Emlynn Tursick will be assets at the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke, respectively. Cristine Creek is a solid swimmer at the breaststroke, while freshman Ashley Evans will contribute at 200 backstroke and 200 IM. The diving team is led by NCAA qualifier Erin Hobbs, who recorded a 245.85 at the national meet.
MEN Preview: The UNLV men are looking to continue the excellence that has resulted in the Rebels taking home the last two Mountain West Championships, finishing in the top-30 for the last couple seasons. Although the Rebels graduated All-American and MWC Swimmer of the Year Joe Bartoch, Coach Jim Reitz is confident that the talent already here and coming into Las Vegas is enough to make up the difference. With their sights set on the MWC Championship and a NCAA berth, the men get underway this season as they travel to Arizona State Friday at 5 p.m. for a duel meet with the Sun Devils. The meet has been selected as the College Duel Meet of the Week.
Who to Watch: For the UNLV men, the clear strength is the strong and deep freestyle group. The top returnee is senior Brandon Nelms, who has swam in the past two NCAA championships. Nelms was the MWC 50 free champion, finishing third in the 100 free a season ago. Richard Hortness joined the team mid-season, and quickly became a contributor , finishing fourth in the 50 free and runner-up in the 200 free. Senior John Byers also returns with Hortness and Nelms to form one the most feared relay groups in the country. Johan Claar, now a sophomore, dominated a season ago. Claar at one point won 19 straight races, and was a four-time conference swimmer of the week.
The breaststroke is comprised of strong leaders in Jonas Andersson and Eric Culberson. Andersson finished top-five in a pair of swims at the 2006 MWC meet. The backstroke group will look to regroup after the loss of MWC three-time champion, Adam Martinson. Juniors Tiger Christian and Devin Phillips will be counted on to score big time points for the Rebels.
Though Bartoch is gone, the butterfly group is full of excitement as freshman Daniel Egly is expected to step in and make a huge impact. Byers and Christian will also swim the butterfly this season, as will Claar, who was nationally ranked in the 200 fly.
The IM group is led by junior Thomas Bosnyak, who was top-five at the MWC in the 200 and 400. Phillips finished joins him in the 200 after placing sixth in the league last season. For the divers, Eli Tanimoto returns to lead a very young team, filled out by Matt Arb and Vincent English, both freshman.
Scouting the Sun Devils: The Sun Devils men's team, which finished fifth at the PAC-10 Championships a season ago, returns All-American Lucas Azevedo. The junior, from Brazil, excels in the freestyle, swimming in the NCAA meet in both the 200 and 500 freestyles. CJ Nuess looks for a good year, after winning three events at ASU's recent intersquad meet. Sophomore All-American Gal Nevo, a Israeli native, paces the Sun Devils in the butterfly. The dive team for ASU lost All-American and four-time PAC-10 diver of the year, Joona Puhakka. Mickey Beneditti and Billy Sweeney will try to pick up the slack on the planks.
Preseason Polls Released: The UNLV men's swimming and diving team, two-time defending conference champions, was picked to finish second in a close vote, while the Rebel women were third in the Mountain West Conference preseason coach's poll, the conference announced on Thursday.
The UNLV men received two first place votes and 21 total, just two behind BYU (three first place votes, 23 total). Air Force had the remaining first place vote, and was third with 17 points. Utah was fourth with 14, while Wyoming was fifth (nine) and TCU sixth (six).
The Rebel women received 43 votes including one first place vote. Utah picked first with five first place votes and 52 total points, with BYU second (3 first place votes, 50 points). TCU was picked fourth with 32 points, one point ahead of Colorado State. Wyoming followed in fifth (23), New Mexico sixth (12), San Diego State eighth (10), and Air Force ninth (two).
The women and men of UNLV will return home on Friday, Oct. 27 for the 27th annual Alumni Dual Meet, held at UNLV's Buchanan Natatorium. The Rebels and the alumni hit the pool at 5:30 p.m. UNLV's next meet against collegiate squad will be Saturday, Nov. 4 when it faces MWC foe Utah in Las Vegas for a dual meet at 2 p.m.