Swimming & Diving Ready For Inaugural WAC Shootout

The San Jose State University women’s swimming and diving team travels early on the morning of Thursday, October 9, for the first time in known program history to Las Cruces, N.M. There, the Spartans will participate in the inaugural Western Athletic Conference Shootout, hosted by New Mexico State University.

A total of seven teams will be on hand for the first installment of the WAC Shootout, a two-day event which is subsequently scheduled to be held in San Jose in 2009. The seven teams include San Jose State’s conference opponents, Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico State and Northern Arizona, as well as Air Force and Northern Colorado.

All seven squads will compete simultaneously together on both days, but will be scored against specific opponents in each meet. The Spartans will have five meets count against their dual record at the conclusion of the WAC Shootout on Saturday.

On Friday evening, October 10, the Spartans will go up against Air Force and Northern Colorado in a three-way dual. The following morning, they will be scored against league opponents Nevada, New Mexico State and Northern Arizona in a four-way dual.

Both days will follow a standard 13-event collegiate dual format. Friday’s activity begins with the 200 medley relay at 4:00 p.m. MDT (3:00 p.m. PDT), and will continue as follows: 1000 free, 200 free, 50 free, 200 IM, one-meter diving, 100 fly, 100 free, 100 back, 500 free, three-meter diving, 100 breast and 200 free relay. The meet should end at approximately 6:00 p.m. MDT (5:00 p.m. PDT). On Saturday, the 400 medley relay will start things off at 10:00 a.m. MDT (9:00 a.m. PDT). The remainder of the meet will go as follows: 1000 free, 200 free, 50 free, 400 IM, one-meter diving, 200 fly, 100 free, 200 back, 500 free, three-meter diving, 200 breast and 400 free relay. The final relay should end at about 12:20 p.m. MDT (11:20 a.m. PDT).

San Jose State head coach Sage Hopkins will be accompanied on the trip by 21 swimmers, all three divers, assistant coach Chris Michelmore and diving coach Brian Tanner, to make up a 27-person travel party for the Spartans. The team will return to San Jose on Saturday evening.

Following the WAC Shootout, the Spartans will make the shorter trip next week to Santa Cruz, Calif., for a three-way dual on Saturday, October 18, against host UC Santa Cruz and Fresno State, which will be opening its first season back in existence as a women’s swimming and diving program, and as part of the WAC, after a four-year hiatus. Start time is 12:00 p.m.


San Jose State will be one of only two teams, out of the seven squads present at the 2008 WAC Shootout, that has already begun competition for the new season. The Spartans opened their 2008-09 account last Friday, October 3, with a 170-102 defeat at Stanford. The Cardinal finished third behind Arizona and Auburn at the NCAA Championships a year ago.

Boise State is 0-4 with a pair of home losses each to Utah and Washington last weekend. Host New Mexico State, Nevada, Northern Arizona, Air Force and Northern Colorado will all be opening the new season this Friday evening.

Nevada is the two-time defending WAC team champion, led by 2008 WAC Coach of the Year, Mike Richmond, now in his second year in charge at his alma mater. The Wolf Pack scored 725.5 points at the 2008 WAC meet, and feature Margaret Doolittle, a junior breaststroke specialist who won the 100 breast, 200 breast and 200 IM crowns on her way to earning WAC Swimmer of the Year honors at last year’s conference meet. Other WAC gold medalists for Nevada include 2008 WAC Freshman of the Year and native of Sweden, Jeanette Tour (100 back, 200 back), Summer Halwas-Morgan (400 IM) and Kim Kabesh (100 fly).

Northern Arizona was second a year ago with a point total of 605. The Lumberjacks are guided by 13th-year head coach Andy Johns, and led by junior Rachael Foe, who placed second in both the 50 and 100 freestyle at last year’s WAC meet, and third in the 100 fly. San Jose State finished fourth in the WAC last year with 480.5 points, 94 behind Hawai’i, which will not be present in Las Cruces.

New Mexico State, directed by fourth-year head coach Rick Pratt, was fifth with 460.5 points in 2008 after seeing the Spartans stage a huge final-day comeback for the fourth spot. Junior Liz Thomson finished second in the 400 IM and senior Stephanie Peacock was second in the 100 back.

Boise State, in just its second year back as a women’s swimming and diving program, beat out the University of San Diego for seventh in the WAC in 2008, with 243 points to its credit. Kristin Hill is the Bronco leader. Stephanie North is this week’s WAC Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week, as the freshman was a part of five school records in her collegiate debut.

Air Force was picked to finish ninth in the Mountain West Conference this season, and returns 12 letterwinners, including senior captain Jane Hwang, a five-time all-conference performer and school record-holder in three events. Casey Converse is in his 24th year of coaching college swimming and 21st at the Academy as the winningest swim coach in program history.

Northern Colorado placed fourth at the 2008 Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference (PCSC) Championship, and sixth at the Conference USA Championship. Junior Nan Liu won the PCSC title in the 200 fly. Nancy Hinrichs enters her 21st season as the Bears’ head coach.

Individual events will be scored to five places (1st-9; 2nd-4; 3rd-3; 4th-2; 5th-1), with only three positions scoring per team. Relays will be scored to three places (1st-11; 2nd-4; 3rd-2), with the best two positions scoring per team. Each swimmer is limited to a total of three events per session, including relays. The NMSU facility is a 25-yard outdoor pool with eight lanes for competition, two one-meter boards and two three-meter boards.

No live audio, video or results will be available from the WAC Shootout this weekend.

“We are thrilled to be going to the first-ever WAC Shootout. It’s going to be a great chance for the WAC teams to go head-to-head in an early-season competition, and should be a good measuring point for where we stand against the conference in this early portion of the year.”

Returners Caitlin Macky and Lauren Mar and true freshmen Heather Denman and Amy Friedhoff were among the individual highlights as San Jose State dropped a dual meet at Stanford, 170-102, in the season opener for both squads at Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center on Friday, October 3.

Macky swam 1:06.52 to finish third in the 100 breaststroke, her only event of the afternoon. Mar sprinted 24.34 to place third in the 50 freesyle, and added another third-place finish in the 100 free (53.19). She also anchored both A’ relays on the day for the Spartans.

Denman, out of Brookeville, Md., had the top individual finish by time of any Spartan on the day, with a second-place showing in the 100 backstroke in 57.77. She also was third in the 200 back in 2:04.99, and swam the lead 50 back leg of the A’ medley relay (26.73). The marks put her in the top six already in the all-time Spartan record book in the three backstroke distances.

Friedhoff turned in a third-place effort in her first collegiate race, going 10:29.97 in the 1000 freestyle. The Washington native was third in the 500 free in 5:07.17. On the one-meter diving board, Jo Thibodaux was third with a strong score of 243.98.

In addition to Denman and Friedhoff, other Spartans making their collegiate debuts included redshirt freshmen Melissa Hymes and Linzy Warkentin, and true freshmen Jessica Holden, Megan Mills, Tomi Petty and Kristin Yamaguchi.

A highly-regarded recruiting class among the best, if not the best, in the Western Athletic Conference, made its presence felt right from the start for San Jose State and head coach Sage Hopkins, at the season-opening dual meet at Stanford on Friday, October 3.

Heather Denman, out of Brookeville, Md., entered the top six in the all-time Spartan record book in all three backstroke distances. Her 50 back split of 26.73 to lead off the A’ 200 medley relay at the end of the meet, was .01 seconds faster than the top 50 from a year ago, and second all-time by just .90 seconds behind former standout and assistant coach Ashley Vrieze (25.83). Denman’s times in the 100 back (57.77) and 200 back (2:04.99) were good enough for second and third against the Cardinal, and fourth and sixth all-time at SJSU, respectively.

Fellow backstroke specialist Tomi Petty, out of Carmichael, Calif., placed fourth in both the 100 (59.23) and 200 (2:06.88), and is 10th and seventh all-time in those events already.

Amy Friedhoff, a distance freestyle specialist out of Federal Way, Wash., produced an impressive performance herself, timing 10:29.97 in her first collegiate race to place third in the 1000 free and enter the school record book in seventh. Megan Mills, from Redlands, Calif., finished fourth in 10:40.21, 10th all-time in school history.

Based on six dives, Jessica Holden, a native of Fair Oaks, Calif., is now fourth on the three-meter diving board (237.98) and fifth on the one-meter (217.13).