San Antonio, Texas - Junior tri-captain Kirsten Trammell became just the third Spartan to win individual swimming gold at a Western Athletic Conference Championship, and the 200 freestyle relay sped to its third first-place effort over the past five years, to lead San Jose State University on day two at the Josh Davis Natatorium.
Through seven of 21 total events, the Spartans remain in second-place with 204 points. They are 26 points behind new leader Boise State (230). Three-time defending WAC champion Nevada (151) and New Mexico State (150) take up the next two spots. Northern Arizona, the WAC runner-up the last two years, dropped from first after day one, to fifth, with 148 points.
Trammell turned in the fastest time in preliminaries of the 200 individual medley, a season-best 2:04.13, before breaking her own school mark (2:03.36) by swimming 2:03.09 in the evening championship final. The product of Goodyear, Ariz., barely out-touched 2008 WAC Swimmer of the Year Margaret Doolittle (2:03.39), a senior for Nevada. She earns her first career gold medal, first-team All-WAC recognition, and joins former teammate Brie Marhenke and current sophomore teammate Heather Denman as the only WAC individual champions in San Jose State swimming history. Tracy Harkins was a three-time WAC diving champion in 2001-03.
Trammell's fellow junior, Caitlin Macky, swam a career-best 2:04.95 in 200 IM prelims, which moved her up from fourth to third all-time at San Jose State, and ultimately placed seventh for second-team All-WAC honors in 2:05.60. Sophomore Kristin Yamaguchi went a season-best 2:07.67 in the morning, and a career-best 2:07.24 in the consolation final for 15th-place. She vaulted up from 10th to seventh on the Spartan chart. Senior tri-captain Erin Garcia was 20th (2:09.41) at the conclusion of the bonus consolation final. She earlier timed 2:08.54.
The Spartan foursome of Marisa DeWames, Meghan McCurley, Denman and anchor Kiley Foster timed a pool- and school-record 1:33.19 in a very tight 200 free relay, edging Boise State by a mere .05 seconds. The previous school standard of 1:33.55 was set at last year's WAC Championship by McCurley, Tarolyn Robertson, Daphne Yeung and Lauren Mar.
San Jose State trailed by .03 seconds when Denman hit the water for the third leg, but was ahead by .59 seconds when the sophomore phenom touched the wall after a blistering 50 yards in 23.01. The fastest 50-yard split of the entire night, 22.68 by Bronco anchor Stephanie North, wasn't quite enough to overtake Foster at the finish. DeWames provided a collegiate-best 50 of 23.68 to leads things off for the Spartans, all four of whom collect gold medals and first-team All-WAC recognition.
The Spartan trio of Foster, fellow freshman DeWames and McCurley, a junior, went 3-4-5 in the championship final of the 50 free, with Foster garnering a bronze medal and first-team All-WAC honors, and her two teammates picking up second-team All-WAC distinction.
In her first career WAC Championship race, Foster had sped a lifetime-best 23.66 for the third-best prelim time. McCurley turned in the fourth-best right behind her (23.68), before sprinting 23.82 at night, with DeWames clinging to a spot in the championship final in eighth (23.92), and then bursting up into fourth thanks to a finals time of a then-personal-best 23.81. Boise State's sophomores, Amber Boucher (23.06) and North (23.22), took the top two spots on the podium.
The 500 freestyle event saw junior Julia Koch (5:01.25) and freshman Julia Craddock swim in the consolation final, placing 12th and 15th overall, respectively. In her first career WAC Championship race, Craddock went 5:04.49 in the morning, and improved on her collegiate best by going 5:03.27 at night. She shaved greater than five seconds off her top performance from prior to arriving in Texas, moving into the top 10 all-time at San Jose State in the 500 in 10th.
Freshman Taylor Stoddard produced a 5:06.27 in prelims, her best as a Spartan by more than three seconds, and wound up 20th with a time of 5:08.42 in her first final, a bonus consolation. Sophomore Megan Mills was 23rd (5:11.31) after a season-best (5:07.19) in prelims.
Elana Faria was another freshman who competed for the first time at a WAC Championship on Thursday. Faria went 24.42 for the 25th-fastest mark in morning prelims of the 50 free, but snuck into the bonus consolation final as an alternate for an extra swim at night, timing an identical 24.42 for 21st-place, one notch ahead of Yeung's 24.52. Julie Wynn, like Yeung a junior, went a personal-best 24.88 in prelims.
A total of 13 San Jose State swimmers qualified in the morning for second swims at night, with five in championship finals. Five Spartans made WAC Championship debuts on the day, including Danielle Smyth and Megan Lomazzi, who each took part in prelims of the 50 free.
"We had a great day," remarked fifth-year head coach Sage Hopkins. "On paper, this is our weakest day. We were hoping just to stay in the top five by the day's end. To come out holding onto second-place, is a huge testament to how hard the girls raced today.
"Kirsten's victory in the 200 IM was definitely one of the more gratifying moments of my coaching career, to have somebody who works so hard, day in day out, get a win like that. It was great to see. She really deserved it so much. The relay was a thriller. That was some great racing by all four of those ladies. They gave everything they had. It was such a close relay, with just .05 seconds the difference. It was a lot of fun.
"We've got a real important day tomorrow," concluded Hopkins. "We're in a great position, and we would really like to keep making a run at things. We just need to get in the water and take things one race at a time, one lap at a time."
Action continues on Friday, February 26, with preliminaries beginning at 9:00 a.m. PST and finals in a total of seven more events starting at 4:30 p.m. PST. Denman will attempt to defend her WAC title in the 100 backstroke, as well as compete for gold in the 100 fly. She will swim in lane four of the final preliminary heat as the top seed in both of those events.
San Jose State at 2010 WAC Championship
February 24-27, 2010
Team Scores (Through 7 of 21 events):
1. Boise State 230
2. San Jose State 204
3. Nevada 151
4. New Mexico State 150
5. Northern Arizona 148
6. San Diego 144
7. Hawai'i 125
8. Idaho 99
9. Fresno State 95
Results (Top times and Spartan swimmers):
500 Freestyle: 1. Jiao Jiao Mi, NEV, 4:51.12B; 12. Julia Koch, SJSU, 5:01.25; 15. Julia Craddock SJSU, 5:03.27; 20. Taylor Stoddard, SJSU, 5:08.42; 23. Megan Mills, SJSU, 5:11.31.
200 Individual Medley: 1. Kirsten Trammell, SJSU, 2:03.09; 7; Caitlin Macky, SJSU, 2:05.60; 15. Kristin Yamaguchi, SJSU, 2:07.24; 20. Erin Garcia, SJSU, 2:09.41.
50 Freestyle: 1. Amber Boucher, BSU, 23.06; 3. Kiley Foster, SJSU, 23.68; 4. Marisa DeWames, SJSU, 23.81; 5. Meghan McCurley, SJSU, 23.82; 21. Elana Faria, SJSU, 24.42; 22. Daphne Yeung, SJSU, 24.52; 38. Julie Wynn, SJSU, 24.88; Danielle Smyth, 25.88; Rudie Guerrero, SJSU, 26.10; Megan Lomazzi, SJSU, 26.85.
200 Freestyle Relay: 1. San Jose State (Marisa DeWames, Meghan McCurley, Heather Denman, Kiley Foster), 1:33.19.