Swimming & Diving Set For WAC Championship

The San Jose State University women's swimming and diving team traveled to San Antonio, Texas, early on the morning of Monday, February 22, for the 2010 Western Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship. The four-day meet will begin on Wednesday, February 24, and run through Saturday, February 27, at the Josh Davis Natatorium.

For a second straight year after the re-introduction of a women's swimming and diving program at Fresno State, nine teams are set to compete for the 2010 WAC crown. Nevada is the three-time defending champion. In a tight meet last year, the Wolf Pack finished with 639 points, just 16 ahead of repeat runner-up Northern Arizona (623). New Mexico State was third (572), and San Jose State (511.5) fourth.

The Spartans have posted four consecutive best-ever fourth-place finishes at the WAC Championship in head coach Sage Hopkins' first four seasons in charge. Hopkins and fourth-year assistant coach Chris Michelmore traveled 20 swimmers and freshman diver Amy Kilby to San Antonio.

San Jose State is led by sophomore Heather Denman, who was chosen as the WAC Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of her first conference championship a year ago. She enters the meet with the fastest times in the WAC this season in three events: the 100 back (54.06), 200 back (1:58.54) and 100 fly (54.63). The two-time WAC champion is set to compete for gold medals in all three of her allotted individual finals, seeking to already eclipse the four individual titles attained by Brie Marhenke, the only other Spartan swimmer to take the top spot on the podium in an individual event. The Brookeville, Md., native, will also again be a factor for Hopkins in relay events. Denman has posted the only NCAA 'B' cuts by a Spartan swimmer (four) this season (100 back, 200 back), and is the school record-holder in the 100 back (53.99), 200 back (1:58.54), 100 fly (53.70) and 200 fly (1:59.69). In addition to accumulating points toward San Jose State's team total, Denman is among a handful of Spartans trying to gain qualification for the first time to the NCAA Championships, to be held this year in West Lafayette, Ind., March 18-20.

Junior Meghan McCurley has the second-fastest time in the 50 free (23.52) and fourth-fastest in the 100 free (51.41). The 50 free will be contested on the first full day of competition on Thursday, February 25, with the 100 freestyle to follow on the final day. San Jose State has the fastest marks in four of the five relays that will take place this week.

There will be a total of 21 events contested at the 2010 WAC Championship, with three diving and five relay events. The meet gets under way with preliminaries in platform diving at 9:00 a.m. PT on Wednesday. Due to a lack of a platform tower at Josh Davis Natatorium, that event is at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Finals are set for 2:00 p.m. PT. The 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays kick off the swimming at Josh Davis Natatorium at 4:30 p.m. PT.


San Jose State's highest finish all-time at the WAC Championship is fourth, which it has achieved in each of the last four years since head coach Sage Hopkins took charge of the program. The Spartans concluded the 2006 event with an all-time highest score of 524.5 points before compiling 430.5 points in 2007, 480.5 in 2008 and 511.5 a season ago.

In 2006, the Spartans produced their first-ever WAC champions in swimming, both individually and as a relay, with Brie Marhenke sweeping the 50 and 100 freestyle events and anchoring the 200 free relay to a first-place finish. The Spartans collected six gold medals, four silver medals, five bronze medals, seven first-team and 22 second-team All-WAC honors while breaking seven school records at the meet.

In 2008, Marhenke took both sprint freestyle events again, while guiding the 200 and 400 free relays to the top of the podium. Lauren Mar and Tarolyn Robertson, both fourth-year seniors a year ago, were parts of both foursomes, with then-freshmen and current juniors Meghan McCurley and Julia Koch on the 200 and 400 relays, respectively. The Spartans had 10 gold and nine bronze medals, 11 first-team and 22 second-team All-WAC honors, and three school marks.

Last season, Heather Denman became the program's first-ever WAC Freshman of the Year, as she swept the backstroke distances to join Marhenke as San Jose State's only two individual WAC champions in swimming. The Spartans compiled an incredible 17 school-record swims in Texas last February, with seven first-team All-WAC and 21 second-team All-WAC performances, Denman's two gold medals, 10 silver medals and three bronze medals. Denman set a program record with 56 individual points collected at the meet.

Prior to this recent stretch of success, the Spartans had registered a trio of fifth-place finishes, the last time being at the 2004 meet. The WAC crowned a new champion in 2006 with the departure of SMU, as Hawai'i took its first conference team title with 775.5 points. SMU had won all nine titles since San Jose State's first year of WAC membership in 1996-97.

In dual competition in 2009-10, San Jose State went 4-2 against opponents it will see in San Antonio, including a third straight dual triumph over Nevada. Also included were two wins over Fresno State, and one over New Mexico State. San Jose State produced a final dual record of 12-3 this season. The Spartans won their last eight dual meets in a row, including one over UC Davis and two against Pacific.

Individual events will be scored to 16 places: eight places (20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11) for finals and eight places (9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1) for consolation finals. Relay scores will count double those point totals.

Results will be posted following every heat on the WAC's website at WACSports.com. Links will also be available through the San Jose State website at SJSUSpartans.com.

The Western Athletic Conference, in conjunction with its website partner, JumpTV Sports, will stream the finals of all four nights of the 2010 WAC Swimming & Diving Championship, February 24-27. Viewers can sign up by visiting WAC.tv.

On Wednesday, February 24, there will be finals in two relays, the 200 medley and 800 freestyle. Viewers that sign up will be able to watch those two events for free. Full schedules begin Thursday, February 25, with finals in several events the next three nights. Each of those three nights can be viewed individually for a subscription fee of $5.95, or a full championship package can be purchased for $9.95. Finals begin at 4:30 p.m. PT on all four nights.

More information, and how to subscribe to these video streaming events, can be found at WAC.tv. Due to the venue change for platform diving, the finals for that event will not be shown.