San Diego State Selected as Favorite to Win 2011-12 Mountain West Women's Swimming & Diving Title
Aztecs picked to defend 2011 title; Newcomer Boise State picked as Aztecs' top challenger
Sept. 23, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A voting panel comprised of the eight Mountain West head women's swimming & diving coaches chose defending league champion San Diego State as the favorite to win the 2012 MW championship title. The Aztecs collected six first-place votes and 48 total points. Newcomer Boise State was selected to finish second with 41 points and claimed the two remaining first-place votes. Wyoming received 39 points for third place in the poll, while UNLV earned 32 points for fourth place. TCU (24 points) and Colorado State (18 points) claimed fifth and sixth place, respectively, followed by New Mexico (seventh, 15 points) and Air Force (eighth, 7 points). The 2012 title will be contested on Feb. 22-25 at the OCCC Aquatic Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.
San Diego State returns 20 letterwinners from last season's championship team. Sophomore Kelly Marquenie will be working to defend her three MW wins in the 200-, 500- and 1650-yard freestyle races that earned her 2011 MW Co-Swimmer of the Year honors. Senior Kristen Meier, the 2011 MW Diver of the Year, leads the group on the tower after winning the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events at last season's championship. Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mike Shrader, the Aztecs set school records in 11 individual swimming events, four relays and all three diving events. Shrader, the 2011 MW Swimming Coach of the Year, led SDSU to its first-ever Mountain West title. The Aztecs 2011-12 recruiting class has been ranked 17th in the nation by collegeswimming.com.
Newcomer Boise State returns 16 letterwinners from last season's team. In just five seasons, head coach Kristin Hill has led the Broncos conference champions each of the past two seasons. Boise State began the women's swimming & diving program in 2005-06. Seniors Amanda Boucher and Stephanie North became the first Broncos to compete at the NCAA Championships in 2011. Boucher, the 2011 Western Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Year, scored the first NCAA Championships points in program history with a 12th-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly. North became the first Bronco to appear in the finals of an NCAA event, the 100-meter freestyle. Sophomore diver Ciera Cortney won the AAU 18-and under 3-meter national championship this summer after taking second place in the 1-meter at the 2011 WAC Championships. Cortney and senior Amanda Burnett return from Zone E championship appearances last season.
Wyoming head coach Tom Johnson welcomes back honorable mention All-American Kelsey Conci among the 20 letterwinners returning for the Cowgirls. Conci placed 10th in the 100-yard backstroke at the NCAA Championships and set Mountain West and Wyoming records in the event last season.
UNLV hopes to build off of the success of its sophomore class, part of the 25 letterwinners returning for head coach Jim Reitz. Jessica Heim (distance freestyle), Rachel Dixon (sprint freestyle) and Katelyne Herrington (butterfly) posted multiple top-eight finishes for the Rebels at the 2011 MW Championship.
TCU junior Sabine Rasch leads a group of five Horned Frog record holders returning for head coach Richard Sybesma in the 2011-12 season. Rasch is the defending champion in the MW 100-yard freestyle and holds TCU records in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly. Senior Ashley Bolin also holds three TCU records, the 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley and 400-yard individual medley. Senior Jennifer Oster (100-yard backstroke) and sophomores Michelle Fleming (200-yard breaststroke) and Amanda Vincent (200-yard butterfly) are also returning TCU record holders.
A familiar face joins the head coaching ranks in the Mountain West. Former Colorado State assistant Chris Woodard takes over as the Rams' head coach in 2011-12. Woodard will have 16 returning letterwinners to work with this season, including a senior class that earned more points at the 2011 MW Championship than all the other CSU classes combined. Senior Breann Fuller returns to defend her 200-yard backstroke title and put her name by two individual and three relay school records last season.
New Mexico head coach Tracy Ljone returns 23 letterwinners, including four all-conference divers and school record holders Jorgi Hobson (100-yard butterfly) and Monica Dudley (1650-yard freestyle). Seniors Aubrey Bush and Ashlee Erickson and sophomores Melissa Bollig and Megan Harper helped earn Lobo diving coach Abel Sanchez the 2011 MW Diving Coach of the Year award as all four divers placed in the 3-meter springboard finals and at least two divers advanced to all three event finals.
Air Force returns 20 letterwinners to head coach Casey Converse's squad, including all-MW performer Haley Holcombe. Holcombe, a junior, placed in the top eight in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events at the 2011 MW Championship and earned team MVP honors. Also back is 2009-10 team MVP senior Katharine Ernst who ranks among the top-10 at the Academy in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly. Sophomore Erin Bleyl set Academy records in five events as a rookie last season.
On Friday, Sept. 23, regular season competition begins with San Diego State at San Diego for a pentathlon. Dual meets get into full swing on Friday, Oct. 7, with several Mountain West teams in action.