Underclassmen Shine At MWC Meet
Feb. 24, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (UNLVRebels.com) - For the second straight year, the UNLV men claimed seven of the top eight finishes in the 50 free to make a big move in the team standings, while the Rebel women had several strong swims on Thursday night on the second day of action at the 2011 Mountain West Conference Championships, which is being held at the Oklahoma City Community College Aquatic Center. The four-day meet concludes on Saturday night.
The 16th-ranked Rebel men moved up from fifth place to second thanks to the 50 free, in which for the second straight year seven Rebels swam in the finals, though they did not match last year's feat of placing first through seventh. UNLV still placed 1-2-3-5-6-7-8, as sophomore Cody Roberts won this year's title in a NCAA 'B' time of 19.86. Junior Steven Nelms followed in second place in 19.91, while senior Kyle Virva was third in 19.98. Brent Murray from Utah broke up the UNLV sweep as he was fourth, and he was followed by Rebel junior Charlie Tapp in fifth (20.29), senior Calan Eldridge in sixth (20.32), junior Andrew Morrell in seventh (20.36), and freshman Guilherme Passos in eighth (20.40). Freshman David Szele also scored in the event, placing 15th in 20.95 to give UNLV a total of 105 points from the event. The top five swimmers also posted 'B' marks.
The night's first event was the 400 medley relay, and UNLV would claim the event for the ninth straight year by over two seconds, winning in 3:10.14, a 'B' standard. Swimming on the relay was senior David Seiler, Szele, Roberts, and Eldridge. That was followed by another Rebel win, as senior Kier Maitland won his third straight 500 free title with a time of 4:22.49. Classmate John Mendoza was seventh (4:30.10) and freshman Spencer Wollkind placed 11th (4:32.50). Freshman Giacomo Gremizzi finished third in the 200 IM in a 'B' time of 1:48.34, and another first-year swimmer, Brandon Meier, placed 12th (1:51.77).
BYU holds the team lead after day two with 297 points, while the Rebels moved up from fifth place to second with 278. Wyoming stands in third (241), Utah is fourth (201), TCU is fifth (177), and Air Force sixth (151).
The Rebel women claimed two runner-up finishes on Thursday. Sophomore Mariah Skeen nearly became the first UNLV diver to win a conference title in 15 years, as she posted a score of 294.20 on the 1-meter board to place second, the best-ever finish by a Rebel in any of the three diving events in the 12-year history of the league. The other second-place finish came from freshman Rachel Dixon, who missed out on the 50 free title by just .02 seconds, touching the wall in a time of 22.71.
The day did not start out as positive for the UNLV women, as its 400 medley relay squad was disqualified. The next event saw freshman Jessica Heim post a sixth-place swim in the 500 free in a time of 4:52.74. Junior Marley Prothero also scored in the event, placing 11th (4:55.73). Scoring in the 200 IM was sophomore Brittany Ozar, seventh in 2:04.03, and senior Lisa Gillespie, 15th in 2:05.15.
Katelyne Herrington joined Dixon in placing in the 50 free, as she swam a time of 23.75 to rank 15th.
San Diego State holds the team lead on the women's side with 251 points. BYU is second (207), just one point ahead of Wyoming (206). Utah stands in fourth (190), New Mexico fifth (170), TCU sixth (149), UNLV seventh (141), Colorado State eighth (123), and Air Force rounds out the field in ninth (64).