By Emily Sampl
The second weekend of major conference championship action kicked off tonight with the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay, along with one diving event, at most meets. After watching more than a dozen other schools compete last weekend, swimmers appeared especially fired up.
At the Mountain West Conference meet, Wyoming got the meet started with a bang, breaking their 2011 conference and championship record in the medley relay with a sizzling 1:38.56. San Diego State (1:39.39) and UNLV (1:39.53) also dipped under the previous mark. Boise State captured the 800 free relay crown in 7:13.40, fueled by Amber Boucher’s 1:45.85 leadoff leg. UNLV was second (7:16.97) and San Diego State third (7:17.09). Boise State leads after day one with 108 points, while San Diego State is in second with 101.
Night one of the Big XII Championships in Columbia, Mo. featured the usual battle between Texas and Texas A&M, with both squads looking to win a conference title in the final year in which they’ll compete in the same conference. Texas A&M took the opening event, as the foursome of Tess Simpson, Breeja Larson, Paige Miller and Erica Dittmer topped the field in 1:36.02, ahead of Texas’ 1:37.34. The Texas men rebounded with a win of their own in 1:25.02. Texas closed the evening with wins in both the women’s (7:04.09) and men’s (6:19.28) 800 free relays. After three events, the Texas A&M women lead 163-147, while the Texas A&M men hold a 197-187 advantage.
Michigan showcased both its sprinting and endurance on night one of the men’s Big Ten Championships, winning both the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay in pool record times. In the medley, the Wolverines (1:25.58) out-touched three teams, with Penn State only .03 behind. Ohio State (1:25.62) and Indiana (1:25.79) were right behind, as any of the four teams could have won. The 800 free relay was not nearly as close, as Michigan cruised to an eight second victory over Ohio State, 6:16.26 to 6:24.39. After the first two events, Michigan leads the overall standings with 80 points, followed by Ohio State with 66.
The defending NCAA champion Cal women opened the Pac-12 Conference meet with a win in the 200 medley relay. Cindy Tran, Melissa Bates, Colleen Fotsch and Liv Jensen had just enough firepower to out-touch Stanford, 1:36.77 to 1:36.90. In the 800 free relay, it was again Cal and Stanford leading the way, as both schools posted sub-7:00 performances. Cal’s team of Sara Isakovic, Catherine Breed, Caroline Piehl and Liv Jensen held on for the win in 6:57.86, with Stanford less than a second back in 6:58.82. USC took third after Katinka Hosszu posted a 1:43.19 on the opening leg. Cal holds a 128-112 advantage over Stanford, with Arizona, Arizona State and USC all tied at 104.
In the men’s ACC Championships, Virginia Tech held off Duke in the opening event and won the 200 medley relay in 1:26.34; Duke finished in 1:26.46. In the next event, Virginia proved why they hold the conference and meet record with a convincing win in the 800 free relay. The Cavaliers’ time of 6:18.35 broke the pool record by more than 26 seconds and was about five seconds faster than second-place North Carolina. Virginia Tech holds a slim two-point lead over North Carolina heading into tomorrow, 68-66.
San Jose State swam its way into the WAC record books in the 200 medley relay, winning the event in 1:39.38, half a second under the previous mark. Northern Arizona produced the quickest 800 free relay in the field with a victorious time of 7:18.76. San Jose State leads after two events with 74 points, ahead of Northern Arizona at 72.