Swimmers & Divers Begin 2010 Down South

The San Jose State University women's swimming and diving team is back in action this weekend for the first time since the Toshiba Classic and the Arizona Invitational in late November, as the Spartans dive into the 2010 calendar year with a pair of competitions down south. Head coach Sage Hopkins, assistant coach Chris Michelmore, diving coach Brian Tanner, 22 swimmers and two divers will travel in three vans to Bakersfield, Calif., on New Year's Day. There, the Spartans take on the Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield in a dual meet at the Hillman Aquatics Center on Saturday, January 2, beginning at 11:00 a.m. San Jose State enters Saturday's meet at 4-3 overall, while the 'Runners are currently 1-3. The Spartans have faced off against Cal State Bakersfield in dual action at least once each year for the past three seasons under Hopkins, a 1997 cum laude graduate of CSUB. San Jose State is a perfect 5-0 against the 'Runners during this stretch. This is the third straight year in which they will meet twice, with a second match-up scheduled again for Bakersfield on Saturday, January 30. The Spartans, who move further south after this Saturday's contest to San Diego, Calif., for Sunday's University of San Diego Relay Invitational, are expected to return to San Jose on Monday, January 4.



Cal State Bakersfield is in the final year of a five-year reclassification process from the NCAA Division II level up to Division I. The 'Runners are currently considered a Division I independent, placed seventh out of eight teams at the 2009 Conference-USA Championship, and will end their season at that event again this coming February in Houston, Texas.

In their last time in the water, the 'Runners defeated NAIA foe Cal Baptist, 172-127, while falling to host LMU, 166-121, in a double dual in Los Angeles, Calif., on Saturday, December 19. The 'Runners have also dropped dual decisions at Pacific (151-109) and San Diego State (123-105) this season.

CSUB is led by sophomore breaststroke specialist Rachel McCall and junior backstroker Stephanie Donnelly. A third Canadian, Victoria Kreutz, who spent her freshman season at San Jose State, still leads the diving contingent for the 'Runners now as a senior. She swept the one-meter and three-meter events in both meetings with the Spartans a year ago, as well as at San Diego State on Saturday, December 5. The 'Runners are led by Pat Skehan, now in her 20th season in charge. She is the only head coach the CSUB women's swim program has ever had.

Here in 2009-10, San Jose State will contest a pair of dual meets with Cal State Bakersfield for the third season in a row. The Spartans swept both meetings in each of the past two campaigns. Last year, they defeated the 'Runners at the Hillman Aquatics Center, 166.5-109.5, on January 3, and again in San Jose, 171-109, on January 24. The Spartans previously topped Cal State Bakersfield on the road on back-to-back days the year before, on January 4 and January 5, 2008, by the final scores of 149-61 and 128-82, respectively. On January 6, 2007, the Spartans edged the 'Runners, 188-160, also in Bakersfield.

San Jose State head coach Sage Hopkins is a 1997 cum laude graduate of Cal State Bakersfield. He faces his alma mater for a fourth straight season in charge of the Spartans. As a member of the 'Runners, Hopkins was a team captain and seven-time All-American. An assistant coach for the CSUB men's squad from 1995-97, Hopkins has a 5-0 dual record against the 'Runners as a head coach.

Individual events at Cal State Bakersfield will be scored to five places (1st-9; 2nd-4; 3rd-3; 4th-2; 5th-1). Relays will be scored to three places (1st-11; 2nd-4; 3rd-2). No more than three individuals or two relay foursomes per team can accumulate points in a given event.

The Spartans have in recent years, traditionally competed at the UC Irvine/Ayres Hotels Invitational during the first weekend in January. With UC Irvine having dropped its men's and women's swimming and diving programs this past off-season, however, that event no longer exists. This season, San Jose State thus travels instead down to San Diego, Calif., for just the second time under head coach Sage Hopkins, to participate in the University of San Diego Relay Invitational on Sunday, January 3. The first event is slated for a 12:00 p.m. start at USD's Sports Center Pool. In addition to Western Athletic Conference affiliate member USD, the Spartans will also be swimming for the first time in known program history against Tulane University of New Orleans, La., and Conference USA. The last time the Spartans did not take part in the Ayres Invitational, also marked the other instance of Hopkins taking his squad down to San Diego, in his first year at the helm. On January 11, 2006, San Jose State swept a double dual there over WAC rivals San Diego and New Mexico State.

Following this weekend's meets, San Jose State will conclude the home portion of its 2009-10 season with a pair of dual meels in back-to-back weeks. The Spartans host Cal State East Bay at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, and UC Davis at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 17, both at The Aquatics Center on campus. Admission is free of charge. The UC Davis meet will serve as Senior Day for two swimmers.

Heather Denman was named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week for the first time this season for the week of November 16-22. The sophomore earned the distinction based on her performance at the 2009 Toshiba Classic in Long Beach, Calif., where she led the Spartans to a sixth-place team finish ahead of four league foes. It was her fifth career weekly conference award.