October 12, 2013

Swimming and Diving starts season with a split squad

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

GREELEY – The Northern Colorado swimming & diving team split up for its first events of 2013, with the divers going North to Laramie for the Wyoming Diving Invitational, while the swimmers went South for the Denver Relays.

"The girls fought really hard for this meet today," Swimming coach Kelly McClanahan said. "Relay meets are tough because you have to fill 6-8 spots for every event. So, we had girls racing, warming down while the men swam, and then jumping right back on the blocks to race again. This is great experience for them, especially the freshmen. They only swim 3-4 events a year, and it's usually the same events every meet. This was a good opportunity for them to get different races in. It's also a good opportunity for the coaching staff to see our depth and that helps make up lineups for future dual meets."

The divers took second place behind the host Cowgirls, while the swimmers scored 144 points for third place behind Wyoming (295) and Denver (281).

On Friday night, sophomore Kelsey Smith (Temecula, Calif.) placed second in the three-meter diving, scoring 229.13 points and she also took third on the one-meter board after totaling 216.68 points.

Freshman Taylor Walsh (Colorado Springs) was right behind Smith, scoring 222.53 points on the three-meter board for third place.

On Saturday in Laramie, the Bears placed third and fourth in the synchronized diving, as sophomore Kellye Rather (Colorado Springs) and Walsh were third with 173.85 points and Smith and sophomore Haley Schneider (Longmont, Colo.) combined for 156.45 points.

"It was a fun competition for the girls," Diving coach Mark Murdock said. "It gave them a chance to experience the new challenges of diving with a synchro partner. Overall, I was happy with the girl's performances this weekend."

At Denver, the 200 medley relay team of sophomore Elle Gawronska (The Woodlands, Texas ), senior Gina Riggle (Eaton, Colo.), freshman Laura Ramirez (Spring, Texas) and senior Kira Alger (Monument, Colo.) started the day with a sixth-place finish after touching the wall in 1:51.34.

The trio of freshman Kimberly Kuni (Littlerock, Calif.), Ramirez and freshman Carleigh Barrett (Oshawa, Ontario) touched the wall third in the 300 butterfly (3 by 100 yards) in 2:58.43.

In the 1500 (3 by 500 yards) relay, the trio of sophomore Erika Etz (Corona, Calif.), junior Kellie Burke (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Barrett also placed sixth in 16:15.80. The trio of Gawronska, sophomore Casey Wolter (DeForest, Wisc.) and sophomore Lexi Peterson (Goodyear, Ariz.) were seventh in 16:50.28.

Senior Courtney Van Oost (Elgin, Ill.), Gawronska and junior Melissa Tillman (Superior, Colo.) placed fourth in the 300 backstroke relay with their combined time of 3:03.59.

Riggle, freshman Tara Olson (Santa Clarita, Calif.) and senior Renee Stephens (Loveland, Colo.) also took third place, doing so in the 300 yard breaststroke after clocking a 3:24.47.

In the 100 yard free relay, with each athlete swimming 25 yards, the team of Alger, Burke, junior Brenna Boese (Billings, Mont.) and Riggle were third in 45.07.

Kuni, Van Oost, Ramirez and Barrett touched the wall fourth in the 400 yard medley (4 x 100 IM) in 4:14.78. The 4x25 medley relay of Van Oost, Riggle, Kuni and Alger timed a 50.66 for fifth place.

In the more traditional 400 yard freestyle relay, the combination of Alger, Tillman, Boese and Riggle timed a 3:40.08 for fifth place.

"Gina (Riggle) rocked the 3x100 breast relay by beating both the lead-off swimmers for Denver and Wyoming," McClanahan said. "That bodes well for her potential placing in our meets to come. Kira (Alger) had excellent swims and is way ahead of where she was this time last year. Carleigh (Barrett) and Kim (Kuni) also had great swims today, and the freshmen 3x100 fly relay made a big statement."

Northern Colorado will combine the swimmers and divers and head to Idaho for a WAC dual meet on Friday, Oct. 18. The home opener for the Bears comes three days later as they host Nebraska Omaha on the 21st at 5 p.m.

"All in all, with the tough lineup and hard training we've been doing, I feel we fared well today," McClanahan said. "However, we must have a better team showing in order to compete with Idaho next weekend."