San Antonio, Texas - Heather Denman won the 200 backstroke in school-record time for her second gold medal of the competition on the final night of the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Championship, as the Spartans matched their best-ever placement in fourth. The four-day meet concluded on Saturday night at the Palo Alto College Natatorium, with finals in seven events.
In an extremely close finish to the team competition, Nevada entered the 400 freestyle relay with just a six-point cushion over Northern Arizona, and won the event to grab its third consecutive conference crown.
The Spartans wound up fourth with 511.5 points, matching their best-ever finish from each of the past three seasons under fourth-year head coach Sage Hopkins. Nevada totaled 639 points to edge Northern Arizona (623), while New Mexico State held off San Jose State for third, with 572 points. Hawai’i, the 2006 champion, was fifth with 463.5 points.
Two more school records for Spartan swimmers gave them 17 for the meet and 26 on the season, all by far program highs. In addition to Denman in the 200 back, sophomore tri-captain Kirsten Trammell broke her own mark in the 200 breaststroke for the second time today, in swimming 2:16.10 for fourth-place and second-team All-WAC honors.
Denman was voted by the league's nine coaches as the WAC Freshman of the Year, a first for a Spartan swimmer or diver.
Following Denman in second-place in the 200 back was Katey Nelson in a spectacular finish to her four-year career. She earned a silver medal and first-team All-WAC distinction for the first team after picking up second-team All-WAC honors in her best event over her prevoius three appearances at the WAC Championship.
Jo Thibodaux (169.10) and Jessica Holden (157.60) finished in a tie for 10th and 14th, respectively, in platform diving prelims in the afternoon, with each performing five dives. Thibodaux picked up 6.5 more points toward the Spartans’ team total, while Holden, just a freshman, earned the first three points of her WAC Championship career.
The end of the meet marked the end of the collegiate careers of Nelson and fellow fourth-year seniors Beste Erener, Lauren Mar and tri-captain Tarolyn Robertson. Erener had a solid final meet as a three-time All-WAC honoree, including Saturday night with an eighth-place effort in the 200 fly, while Mar leaves San Jose State as the top WAC Championship point-scorer in program history.
San Jose State at 2009 WAC Championship
February 25-28, 2009
Individual Honors (As voted upon by the WAC coaches):
Swimmer of the Year: Courtney Eads, Sr., Nevada
Diver of the Year: Emma Friesen, Jr., Hawai’i
Freshman of the Year: Heather Denman, San Jose State
Diving Coach of the Year: Mike Brown, Hawai’i
Coach of the Year: Rick Pratt, New Mexico State
Team Scores (Through 21 of 21 events):
1. Nevada 639
2. Northern Arizona 623
3. New Mexico State 572
4. San Jose State 511.5
5. Hawai’i 463.5
6. Boise State 391
7. San Diego 248
8. Idaho 170
9. Fresno State 121
Results (Top seeds and Spartan swimmers in day four preliminaries):
1650 Freestyle: 1. Sarah Gleason, San Diego, 16:47.18; 5. Amy Friedhoff, SJSU, 17:01.01; 11. Megan Mills, SJSU, 17:22.74; 20. Ashley Krisman, SJSU, 17:47.17.
200 Backstroke: 1. Heather Denman, SJSU, 1:59.58; 2. Katey Nelson, SJSU, 2:00.59.
100 Freestyle: 1. Stephanie North, BSU, 50.41; 3. Lauren Mar, SJSU, 50.63; 12. Meghan McCurley, SJSU, 51.96; 15. Daphne Yeung, SJSU, 52.56; 17. Kristin Yamaguchi, SJSU, 52.59; 19. Erin Garcia, SJSU, 52.76; 35. Julia Koch, SJSU, 53.75; 40. Tarolyn Robertson, SJSU, 55.19; -- Julie Wynn, SJSU, 53.18; -- Ashley Ladd, SJSU, 53.90.
200 Breaststroke: 1. Maria Spies, NMSU, 2:12.02; 4. Kirsten Trammell, SJSU, 2:16.10; 9. Caitlin Macky, SJSU, 2:19.16.
200 Butterfly: 1. Courtney Eads, NEV, 1:56.87; 6. Hannah Tringham, SJSU, 2:03.79; 8. Beste Erener, SJSU, 2:05.83; 10. Rudie Guerrero, SJSU, 2:05.63; -- Linzy Warkentin, SJSU, 2:09.07.
Platform Diving: 1. Raquel Bartlow, UH, 263.90; 10. Jo Thibodaux, SJSU, 169.10; 14. Jessica Holden, SJSU, 157.60.
400 Freestyle Relay: 1. Nevada (Kim Kabesh, Margaret Doolittle, Danielle Maddock, Courtney Eads), 3:22.45; 6. San Jose State (Lauren Mar, Meghan McCurley, Daphne Yeung, Kristin Yamaguchi), 3:26.32.