Denman Gold, Four More School Marks On Third Night

San Antonio, Texas - Heather Denman swam to a gold medal in the 100 backstroke, and the 400 medley relay finished second for San Jose State University in the final event of day three of the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championship. The four-day meet comes to a close on Saturday, February 28, at the Palo Alto College Natatorium, with morning prelims in four events beginning at 9:00 a.m. PST. Seven finals will be contested starting at 4:30 p.m. PST.

Denman’s gold-medal performance and the medley relay accounted for two of four more school records for Spartan swimmers on the evening. San Jose State totaled eight new standards on the day, and now have 12 for the meet and 21 on the season, all by far program highs under fourth-year head coach Sage Hopkins.

The Spartans moved up from fifth to fourth-place, now with 341 points through 14 of 21 events. Two-time defending champion Nevada moved into first with 442 points. The Wolf Pack are followed by Northern Arizona (426), New Mexico State (361) and San Jose State, with Hawai’i right behind the Spartans at 340.

The 400 medley relay of Lauren Mar, Kirsten Trammell, Denman and Meghan McCurley, absolutely obliterated the previous school standard of 3:48.80, set at the UCI/Nike Cup last November, by going 3:42.50, the second NCAA B’ cut relay the Spartans have turned in this meet, having never done so before in program history. Nevada won the event in 3:40.55.

Denman went a school-record 53.99 to lead a 1-2 finish with Mar in the 100 back, in another B’ cut performance for the freshman phenom in the event. Mar swam 55.17 to improve on her lifetime best of 55.25 from morning prelims. The duo thus combined for 37 points for the Spartans. Denman, from Brookeville, Md., becomes just the second Spartan swimmer to earn individual WAC Championship gold, after four-time champion Brie Marhenke. In addition to the gold and silver medals, Denman and Mar each earned first-team All-WAC distinction.

Having already eclipsed her own school record in the 100 back in the morning by swimming 54.57, Denman is now just .98 seconds off her first NCAA automatic qualifier (53.01).

Denman had earlier in the evening, raced 53.70 to break her own school record (53.97) and finish third with a bronze medal and more first-team All-WAC honors in the 100 butterfly. Elliko Heimbach of Hawai’i won in 53.29, with both times good enough to be NCAA consideration qualifiers. Rudie Guerrero went 56.71 for seventh-place and second-team All-WAC honors for the first time in her career.

Trammell re-set the school record in the 100 breast that she had initially broken in the morning, lowering it down to 1:02.37 to place third, and in the process earn a bronze medal, first-team All-WAC distinction and her first career NCAA B’ cut, getting just under the 1:02.38 cut-off. Sophomore teammate Caitlin Macky went 1:04.45 for eighth-place, with junior Erin Garcia swimming 1:06.88 in the consolation final for 15th-place.

Beste Erener (4:28.29) and Hannah Tringham (4:31.99) went 6-8 in the championship final of the 400 IM, which Nevada’s Summer Halwas-Morgan won in 4:19.28. This marks a fourth straight season that Erener earned second-team All-WAC honors in the event, with Tringham now a two-time All-WAC honoree.

Jo Thibodaux, from Alvin, Texas, became the first Spartan diver since 2003, to compete in evening finals at the WAC Championship, placing eighth on the three-meter springboard, her six dives collecting a score of 260.45 and earning 11 valuable points for San Jose State. The Alvin, Texas, native had earned a score 247.55 for the eighth-best mark in the afternoon. Freshman teammate Jessica Holden was 17th during preliminaries. Emma Friesen of Hawai’i, who won Thursday’s one-meter event, took the three-meter with an NCAA A’ cut 361.20.

In the 200 free, which Nevada’s Courtney Eads won in 1:48.78, Spartan freshman Amy Friedhoff timed a best-ever 1:52.11 to place third in the consolation final and 11th overall in the event. Teammates Julia Koch (1:53.21) and Kristin Yamaguchi (1:53.38) went 1-2 in the bonus consolation for 17th and 18th overall. Yamaguchi’s mark was her best. Megan Mills was 22nd in 1:54.34.

The consolation final of the 100 back saw Guerrero (57.01) and Katey Nelson (57.81) place 11th and 14th, respectively. Senior tri-captain Tarolyn Robertson was 16th in the 100 fly after the consolation final, in which she timed 58.76. Redshirt freshman Linzy Warkentin swam in her first evening final, the bonus consolation, winning it in a lifetime-best 58.65 for 17th-place overall.

San Jose State at 2009 WAC Championship
February 25-28, 2009

Team Scores (Through 14 of 21 events):
1. Nevada 442
2. Northern Arizona 426
3. New Mexico State 361
4. San Jose State 341
5. Hawai’i 340
6. Boise State 262
7. San Diego 178
8. Idaho 129
9. Fresno State 87

Results (Top marks and Spartan competitors on day three):
400 Individual Medley: 1. Summer Halwas-Morgan, NEV, 4:19.28; 6. Beste Erener, SJSU, 4:28.29; 8. Hannah Tringham, SJSU, 4:31.99.

100 Butterfly: 1. Elliko Heimbach, UH, 53.29; 3. Heather Denman, SJSU, 53.70; 7. Rudie Guerrero, SJSU, 56.71; 16. Tarolyn Robertson, SJSU, 58.76; 17. Linzy Warkentin, SJSU, 58.65.

200 Freestyle: 1. Courtney Eads, NEV, 1:48.78; 11. Amy Friedhoff, SJSU, 1:52.11; 17. Julia Koch, SJSU, 1:53.21; 18. Kristin Yamaguchi, SJSU, 1:53.38; 22. Megan Mills, SJSU, 1:54.34; 25. Ashley Krisman, SJSU, 1:55.19; 28. Daphne Yeung, SJSU, 1:56.69; -- Julie Wynn, SJSU, 1:55.88; -- Ashley Ladd, SJSU, 2:00.84.

100 Breaststroke: 1. Maria Spies, NMSU, 1:00.98; 3. Kirsten Trammell, SJSU, 1:02.37; 8. Caitlin Macky, SJSU, 1:04.45; 15. Erin Garcia, SJSU, 1:06.88.

100 Backstroke: 1. Heather Denman, SJSU, 53.99; 2. Lauren Mar, SJSU, 55.17; 11. Rudie Guerrero, SJSU, 57.01; 14. Katey Nelson, SJSU, 57.81; 23. Meghan McCurley, SJSU, 59.24; -- Linzy Warkentin, SJSU, 59.98.

Three-Meter Diving: 1. Emma Friesen, UH, 361.20; 8. Jo Thibodaux, SJSU, 260.45; 17. Jessica Holden, SJSU, 197.45.

400 Medley Relay: 1. Nevada (Jeanette Tour, Margaret Doolittle, Kim Kabesh, Courtney Eads), 3:40.55; 2. San Jose State (Lauren Mar, Kirsten Trammell, Heather Denman, Meghan McCurley), 3:42.50.