Feb. 23, 2013
SAN ANTONIO, Texas—The Colorado State Rams finished seventh in the final day of the 2013 Mountain West Swimming & Diving Championships. Two new times now rank atop CSU's record book as senior Breann Fuller and freshman Erica Stock smashed previous school records in the 200 Backstroke and 200 Breaststroke, respectively. Fuller also received the Senior Recognition Award, awarded annually to the league's top senior student athlete.
"We picked up where we left off yesterday,” Head Coach Christopher Woodard said. “There were some missed opportunities here and there, but for the most part we capitalized where we could. The energy was high, which is very hard on the last day, and I think we came out with many more smiles.”
The historic day began with Fuller’s MW record-breaking performance in the 200 Backstroke preliminaries.
Moments after UNLV's Carmen Robb established a new MW record (1:55.27), Fuller swam a 1:54.40 in the next heat, beating Robb's time by nearly a second, and the previous MW record by more than a second-and-a-half.
The time also broke CSU's school record, which was previously held by Fuller at the 2011 Championships (1:56.01). It also earned high NCAA-B cut qualification, and made her the favorite entering Saturday night's finals. However, San Diego State's Leona Jennings would claim first (1:54.43), ahead of Robb (1:54.84) and Fuller (1:54.86).
“Both of Breann’s performances in the 200 backs were great," Woodard said, "but this morning’s was an inspired swim. It was absolutely what we knew she was capable of. She swam an almost textbook swim. Both were great swims and should get her to NCAA’s."
Prior to Saturday night's finals, Fuller was also honored as the 2013 recipient of the Senior Recognition Award. She was chosen by a vote of the league’s coaches for her accomplishments as an athlete and student. She will be remembered as one of the top swimmers in program history. She holds four school records, has earned four MW championships, and was a 2009 NCAA and 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier. She is also a three-time MW Scholar-Athlete, and is pursuing her master's degree with a 4.0 GPA.
“There is a reason I nominated her," Woodard said. "She represents herself as a professional in the classroom, pool and community. I couldn’t think of a more deserving person."
Freshman Erica Stock continued to be on fire in the pool and broke her second school record of the Championships, dropping two-and-a-half seconds from her prelim time in the 200 Breaststroke (2:14.67). Stock sliced off more than a second off of Nicole Ryan's previous school record (2:15.75), and finished ninth at the Championships. Along with senior Kelly Mathews’ 11th-place finish (2:18.11), Stock boosted the team into sixth place at the time, which was the highest position CSU held throughout the Championships.
“We definitely don’t underestimate her," Woodard said of Stock. "She is a peer racer and thrives on competition to win. The 200 Breast is a record that’s needed to be broken for quite some time, so I’m very happy for her."
The platform diving event allowed sophomore Mary Kate Hardy to shine with her lifetime best score of 217.98 and a 10th-place finish. Sophomore Maxelise Thorn also had a very strong performance that landed her in 14th place (190.89). Senior Madeline Mitchell was the third Ram to score, finishing in 16th place (174.84). The scoring positions in the platforms rounded out the diving team’s overall results, with each member of the squad scoring at the Championships.
“All six of our divers scored for CSU," Woodard said. "It was very encouraging for our team and got everyone involved. I couldn’t be happier for the diving squad."
Other highlights of the night included junior Madeline Mastrup’s eighth-place finish in the 1650 Freestyle (16.48.33). Senior Mary Foster also placed 13th in the same event (17:08.13). Senior Arianne Lujan beat her lifetime best in the 200 Butterfly with a 12th-place performance (2:03.75). Michelle Hawkins (2:00.24) and Jessica Shepard (2:01.08) each had very strong performances in the 200 Backstroke, with Hawkins setting a lifetime best by two seconds, in 14th place, just ahead of Shepard, in 15th.
The four days of championship competition brought the greatest triumphs of the season for the Rams. From five school records to Fuller earning one of the highest honors the conference bestows, the Rams can walk away proud of their accomplishments at the Championships and throughout the season.
“Obviously this year has been really rocky,” Woodard said. “It’s tough going into a meet thinking. 'If we had only been healthier and if we hadn’t lost some people along the way.' When you get into the meet, though, you just have to focus on what you have, and what we have is very good, and a very firm foundation for the future. Now it’s just time to get back and enjoy our accomplishments and have some fun.”
Overall San Diego State brought home a definitive victory with 734 points. The standings followed with Boise State (575), Wyoming (509), UNLV (444), Nevada (390), New Mexico (296), CSU (276), Fresno State (257) and Air Force (211).
CSU had several athletes with times that were fast enough to make NCAA-B cuts qualification. Depending on the number of athletes who reach A-cuts, the remaining spots will be pulled from athletes who have met the B-cut standard. With CSU’s placement in the B cuts, there is a strong chance that several athletes, highlighted by Fuller, could compete in the NCAA Championships, which will take place March 21-23 in Indianapolis, Ind.
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