Cowgirls Looking to Make Mark at MWC Swim/Dive Championship
Cowgirl Swimming and Diving competes in the Mountain West Conference Championship this week with a goal of finishing in the top three for the first time since 2013. The four-day event opens on Wednesday at the Palo Alto College Aquatic Center. Boise State is the defending champion, having claimed the title in three of the last six seasons.
The Cowgirls main competition comes from Nevada, the 2016 champion, San Diego State, a three-time champion in the event's seven-year existence, and Boise State. The three schools have finished ahead of Wyoming the last four years.
The Broncos defeated UW in their dual meeting on Jan. 20. The Aztecs are strong in the butterfly and IM events, with the top times in the 200 fly and 400 IM. The Wolfpack will again be strong on the boards, with Sharae Zheng returning after sweeping all three events at the 2017 MW Championships.
The Cowgirls have nine competitors currently ranked in the top 10 in the conference in at least one event. Six Cowgirls have posted top-10 marks this season in three different events. Senior Kelly Sheldon has posted the 10th-fastest time in the 200 freestyle, ninth-fastest time in the 500 freestyle and 10th-fastest time in the 200 backstroke. Senior Maria Harutjunjan ranks second in the 100 breaststroke, seventh in the 200 breaststroke and ninth in the 200 individual medley. Harutjunjan holds the conference record in the 100 breaststroke from last season’s championship race, still the only competitor record a sub-minute time.
Juniors Isobel Ryan and Samantha Burke each also have three top-10 times this season. Ryan ranks tied for third in the 50 freestyle, tied for sixth in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 100 backstroke. Burke holds the eight-fastest time in the 100 backstroke, the seventh-best time in the 200 backstroke and the 10th-fastest time in the 100 butterfly. Junior Marcela Gramcko ranks ninth in the 200 backstroke, rounding out one of UW’s strongest events.
Sophomore Talita Te Flan has excelled in the distance events this season, ranking sixth in the 500 freestyle, eighth in the 1000 freestyle, and seventh in the 1650 freestyle. Sophomore Daniela Luna Rocha is also top-10 in the 1000 and 1650 freestyle, ranking eighth and ninth respectively.
Freshman Hannah McLean-Leonard is the only UW newcomer to post a top-10 mark this season. She ranks fourth in the 100 butterfly and ninth in the 200 butterfly.
Sophomore Karla Contreras returns to the conference championships looking for her first MW title after top-three finishes in all three events last season. Contreras finished second on the one-meter, third on the three-meter and second on the platform. The four-time MW Diver of the Week later went on to be the only diver to represent the conference in all three events at the NCAA Championship.