Marhenke Earns Top Finals Seed In Day Four Prelims

San Antonio, Texas - San Jose State University senior co-captain Brie Marhenke sprinted to a 50.34 in the 100 freestyle for the best mark during morning preliminaries on the fourth and final day of the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship. The four-day meet concludes later tonight at the Palo Alto College Natatorium, with finals in seven events beginning at 4:30 p.m. PST.

The Spartans are currently in fifth place with 312 points through 14 of 21 events. New Mexico State is just ahead with 329 points. Defending champion Nevada remains the leader with 499 points. San Jose State put seven swimmers in championship finals during preliminaries for the four events that were contested early Saturday.

Marhenke’s season best time of 50.34 was just .04 seconds off her best ever of 50.30, the school record she achieved during prelims at the 2006 NCAA Championships. It was Marhenke’s third NCAA B’ cut mark of the meet and fifth of the season, short of an A’ cut by .92 seconds. Her previous best in the 100 this season was 50.60 from Nike Cup in November. Northern Arizona’s Rachel Foe is seeded second with a morning mark of 51.24.

Lauren Mar, a junior who is Marhenke’s roommate, also produced a great preliminary race, matching her best ever from last year’s WAC Championship, in timing 51.62 to grab the fourth seed in the championship final. Mar won the fourth of six total heats in the 100 free. Marhenke had won the sixth.

The championship final of the 200 butterfly will also feature a pair of Spartans after lifetime-best performances by fourth-year senior Jillene Golez and Ally Jack to finish with the fourth and seventh best times, respectively. Golez raced 2:05.85 in the first heat, her best since swimming 2:05.92 at the 2005 WAC Championship as just a freshman. Her previous best this year was 2:07.65 at Nike Cup. Jack, also competing in the first of three heats, timed 2:07.73. Her previous best was 2:09.49 at the 2007 Nike Cup. Junior Beste Erener swam 2:09.39 to make the consolation final as the 11th best time in the morning. Nevada’s Kim Kabesh went an NCAA B’ cut of 1:59.59 for the top seed.

A third championship final to come later with two San Jose State swimmers involved is the 200 breaststroke, where freshmen Caitlin Macky and Kirsten Trammell are seeded fourth and seventh, respectively. Macky timed 2:21.03, with Trammell winning her own heat in 2:21.76. Nevada’s Margaret Doolittle swam an NCAA B’ cut of 2:16.58 for the top time.

Katey Nelson is the seventh Spartan in a championship final tonight. The junior assured herself of All-WAC honors in her specialty, the 200 backstroke, for a third straight year by timing a season-best 2:06.14 to notch the sixth seed. Freshman teammate Rudie Guerrero turned in a season-best 2:12.76 for 26th and an alternate spot for the bonus consolation final.

Prelims of the 200 back also featured the final race of Spartan senior co-captain Nikki Chapman’s career. The native of Diamond Bar, Calif., shaved over two full seconds off her previous collegiate best of 2:17.53 from last year’s WAC Championship, by swimming 2:15.20. Fellow senior Sara Riley also swam her final race as a Spartan, timing a season-best 55.27 in the 100 free.

Julia Koch continued a spectacular first WAC meet for the freshman out of San Diego, Calif., producing a lifetime-best 53.14 to win her heat and earn a spot in the consolation final of the 100 free as the 12th best time. Her previous best was 54.54 at Nike Cup. Fellow freshmen Daphne Yeung (19th, 53.43) and Meghan McCurley (22nd, 53.63) will compete in the bonus consolation final. Yeung’s was a best mark.

Junior Tarolyn Robertson also earned a spot in the bonus consolation final as the 18th seed in a season-best 53.41, but will be scratched so that she can focus on the 400 freestyle relay. Junior Kelly Wilkings (55.77), sophomores Erin Garcia (53.78) and Amanda Mikaelsson (55.78), and freshmen Ashley Ladd (55.15) and Julie Wynn (54.91) all swam to their best times as Spartans.

Jo Thibodaux competed in the platform diving competition following swimming preliminaries this afternoon. The freshman out of Alvin, Texas, added seven points toward the San Jose State team total thanks to a 10th-place finish. She had already contributed five points on the one-meter and three-meter springboards over the last two days, to give her 12 total for her first WAC Championship. Her score was not available at press time. The WAC platform champion will be determined later tonight.

Another freshman, Ashley Krisman, will be the first Spartan in the water during the evening portion, for her heat of the demanding 1650 freestyle, at approximately 2:30 p.m. PST. The final heat of the 1650, featuring fourth-year senior Amanda Carr’s final collegiate swim, will take place at 4:30 p.m. PST, and will be followed by finals in six other events. The 400 freestyle relay will signal the end of the meet, with the Spartans seeded third (3:32.06).

San Jose State at 2008 WAC Championship
February 20-23, 2008

Team Scores (Through 14 of 21 events):
1. Nevada 499
2. Northern Arizona 433
3. Hawai’i 383
4. New Mexico State 329
5. San Jose State 312
6. Idaho 215
7. Boise State 164
8. University of San Diego 159

Results (Top times and Spartan student-athletes):
200 Backstroke: 1. Ricarda Schellenberg, UH, 2:03.19; 6. Katey Nelson, SJSU, 2:06.14; 26. Rudie Guerrero, SJSU, 2:12.76; Nikki Chapman, SJSU, 2:15.20.

100 Freestyle: 1. Brie Marhenke, SJSU, 50.34; 4. Lauren Mar, SJSU, 51.62; 12. Julia Koch, SJSU, 53.14; 18. Tarolyn Robertson, SJSU, 53.41; 19. Daphne Yeung, SJSU, 53.43; 22. Meghan McCurley, SJSU, 53.63; 27. Erin Garcia, SJSU, 53.78; 35. Ashley Ladd, SJSU, 55.15; Julie Wynn, SJSU, 54.91; Sara Riley, SJSU, 55.27; Kelly Wilkings, SJSU, 55.77; Amanda Mikaelsson, SJSU, 55.78.

200 Breaststroke: 1. Margaret Doolittle, NEV, 2:16.58; 4. Caitlin Macky, SJSU, 2:21.03; 7. Kirsten Trammell, SJSU, 2:21.76.

200 Butterfly: 1. Kim Kabesh, NEV, 1:59.59; 4. Jillene Golez, SJSU, 2:05.85; 7. Ally Jack, SJSU, 2:07.73; 11. Beste Erener, SJSU, 2:09.39.

Platform Diving: 10. Jo Thibodaux, SJSU.