San Antonio, Texas - The San Jose State University 200 medley relay placed third in a school-record time, while the 800 freestyle relay moved up two spots from its initial seeding on a stellar first night for the Spartans at the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship. The four-day meet is taking place once again at the Palo Alto College Natatorium.
The San Jose State women sit in a tie for fourth with New Mexico State, each at 60 points. Defending champion Nevada is first with 74 points through just the two relay events.
The Spartan foursome of Lauren Mar, Caitlin Macky, Tarolyn Robertson and Brie Marhenke raced 1:44.18 to better the school mark of 1:44.58, previously set at the 2006 WAC meet, with Mar and Marhenke swimming the leadoff backstroke and anchor freestyle legs then as well.
As a result of the third-place finish, all four swimmers earn bronze medals and second-team All-WAC recognition, both being firsts for Robertson and Macky as collegians. Just a freshman, the race marked Macky’s first WAC Championship relay performance, swimming breaststroke. She and Robertson, a junior on the butterfly leg, swam together growing up in San Diego, Calif., with each graduating from West Hills High School.
The race also marked the return to the WAC Championship of Marhenke, a senior co-captain out of Carmichael, Calif., who put on an incredible display at the 2006 event in her first season as a Spartan following a transfer, prior to redshirting a year ago. Her anchor split of 22.51 was narrowly off her lifetime best of 22.36 from 2006. San Jose State was in fifth when Marhenke hit the water, out of third by .31 seconds, but the New Mexico State and Idaho anchors stood no chance against the Spartans’ only individual WAC swim champion.
The San Jose State 800 freestyle relay, seeded seventh heading into the meet, came out with a remarkable fifth-place effort despite having three members, sophomore transfer Erin Garcia and freshmen Julia Koch and Kirsten Trammell on the anchor, performing for the first time at a WAC Championship behind fourth-year senior Amanda Carr. The foursome timed 7:39.40, over 10 full seconds faster than San Jose State’s mark at the 2007 WAC meet.
All four competitors turned in lifetime-best relay marks over 200 yards, with Carr and Trammell also racing to best splits over the first 100 yards. The Spartans were in eighth when Koch entered the pool, and fourth when she came out, following a blistering 1:52.71 split.
“It was a good way to start the meet for the Spartans,” said Marhenke. “This is a stronger start than we’ve ever had, and we are looking to continue this level of performance throughout the rest of the meet. I’m proud and happy that we were able to have a freshman on our record-breaking relay. I’m excited that I got to be on it, as well as the other two girls. I think they all did a great job. Everybody just put their heart into the swim and we came out with a good result.”
Added Mar, “I’m very excited that we were able to break the record. I feel like it was a really strong start for our team, in setting the bar high, getting everybody pumped up and giving our freshmen a real feel for how the atmosphere is going to be here at this event. I was really excited for Caitlin because it was her first WAC relay, and it was the first medal for Tarolyn.”
“To be a part of a relay is a real honor,” said Robertson. “I’m really excited. Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now, but I know all of it is good. I was really excited to share this experience with Brie, who’s a senior, Lauren, who is a fellow junior, and of course, Caitlin, because she is one of my best friends from home. To swim with Caitlin tonight, was just like old times. The 800 free relay did really well. I’m just glad that we are off to a good start and I want to keep it going.”
“It was a little shocking at first. I was really nervous, but the energy was really good,” remarked Macky about her first WAC Championship experience. “Seeing all the teams there just made me proud to be a Spartan. I was probably more nervous for this first relay than any other (race before), but it made me want to go fast, and I went fast. I’m glad we got the record and I’m just really happy that I was on it.”
Summarized third-year San Jose State head coach Sage Hopkins, “It was a tremendous way for us to start the meet, with a school record in the 200 medley relay. That was a record we certainly had our mind on breaking for a while this season. We had great performances across the board, especially Tarolyn Robertson’s 25.28 split in the fly.
“The 800 free relay was very solid also, moving up from the seventh seed to fifth. It was a much faster relay than last year. It’s also very encouraging that three out of the four participants were rookies to our program, so that’s a relay that’s just going to keep getting better. I’d especially like to single out Julia Koch splitting 1:52 on the (800 free) relay.
“We are very encouraged with Brie swimming about a half a second faster on this (200 medley) relay than she did two years ago. It’s a great way to start the meet for her as well. We are excited to get in and race tomorrow morning.”
On Thursday, Marhenke will begin her quest to repeat the double she achieved in 2006, when she swept both sprint freestyle events. The 50 free, 500 free and 200 IM will take place with prelims in the morning and finals at night. Diving will also begin with the one-meter springboard competition, with freshman Jo Thibodaux, the lone Texas native on the Spartan roster out of Alvin, Texas, making her WAC Championship debut in front of numerous family members expected.
Marhenke will also be involved in the 200 freestyle relay to conclude the evening, with San Jose State the top seed in the event, having posted the WAC’s best time thus far on the year of 1:35.60.
Concluded Marhenke, “It’s a big day. I’m pumped. I’m ready.”
San Jose State at 2008 WAC Championship
February 20-22, 2008
Team Scores (Through 2 of 21 events):
1. Nevada 74
2. Hawai’i 68
3. Northern Arizona 66
4. San Jose State 60
4. New Mexico State 60
6. Idaho 50
7. San Diego 48
8. Boise State 46
200 Medley Relay: 1. Nevada, 1:42.81; 2. Northern Arizona, 1:43.18; 3. San Jose State (Lauren Mar, Caitlin Macky, Tarolyn Robertson, Brie Marhenke), 1:44.18.
800 Freestyle Relay: 1. Hawai’i, 7:28.46; 5. San Jose State (Amanda Carr, Erin Garcia, Julia Koch, Kirsten Trammell), 7:39.40.