Colorado State Honors Seniors By Beating New Mexico

Photo Courtesy: Colorado State Athletics

FORT COLLINS, Colorado, January 19. COLORADO State sent its seniors out on a winning note on Saturday afternoon, topping the University of New Mexico by a final score of 185-113. CSU is now 31-2 all-time against the Lobos.

Colorado State Press Release

The Colorado State Rams celebrated Senior Day on Saturday with one of the best gifts a team can get, earning a 185-113 victory over New Mexico. With the victory, CSU improved to 5-3 in dual meets, continuing its best start to a season since 2009-10.

Despite dropping the meet’s first three events, CSU responded with four consecutive first-place finishes, winning the 200 Freestyle (Elizabeth Prasse, 1:56.37), 100 Backstroke (Jessica Shepard, 56.94), 100 Breaststroke (Cristina Bassani, 1:05.54) and 200 Butterfly (Megan Llyod, 2:08.91).

“I knew New Mexico would be tough,” Head Coach Christopher Woodard said. “Kunio (Kono, New Mexico’s head coach) always has his girls ready, and they came out and blew the doors off that 200 Medley Relay and it certainly put us back on our heels a little bit. Then they followed it up with a great 1000 (Freestyle). I’m sure there was every reason to be worried, but I think our kids rebounded very ably.”

The Rams increased their lead with big swims in their stroke events, sweeping the 200 Backstroke, 200 Breaststroke and 200 IM. CSU also locked the Lobos out of first and second in the 100 Backstroke, 100 Breaststroke and 100 Freestyle.

“They just continue to build momentum and confidence,” Woodard said of his team. “I think what’s most impressive in swimming any conference opponent is when you can go 1-2 in an event, or 1-2-3. That’s a huge accomplishment, and it was coming from all people in all places. I’m very pleased.”

The diving squad also had a strong afternoon, earning themselves six season bests and seven NCAA Zones qualifying scores. Melissa Bollig, a transfer from New Mexico, qualified for the first time with season bests in both events. The junior contributed to the victory with a third- and fourth-place finish in 1- and 3-Meter, respectively.

Fresh off her honor as Mountain West Diver of the Week, Ariana Milone set her second-highest score of the season on 3-Meter boards (304.20) and a lifetime best on the 1-Meter springboard (294.08). Milone’s 1-Meter performance is the second-highest score in CSU history, and was just shy of breaking Erica Torgrude’s record of 298.73, set in 1996. Milone earned 13 total points for the Rams on the day.

“Ariana went up against a girl from New Mexico (Megan Harper) who is really good and has been very good for a long time,” head diving coach Kevin Witt said. “It was only a four-point difference between first and second place on 3-Meter. There was just one little thing that if we could take it back she probably would have won. She came back after that and won 1-Meter, and it was a career best and only a couple points off of our school record. She did great; I’m very happy.”

The Rams celebrated their Senior Day, sending off four of their top athletes – Yana Garvey, Madeline Mastrup, Ailey Ruger and Maxelise Thorn. The seniors won’t be out of the pool quite yet, however. CSU will compete in three more dual meets before the Mountain West Championships (Feb. 19-22 in San Antonio, Texas).

Considering the team’s steady improvement, the Rams should be in a good spot heading into the Championships.

“Dual-meet wins aren’t always indicative of what a team can do at conference because it’s not all about depth, it’s a lot about your top end and scoring points, and how quick your relays are,” Woodard said. “I think I do have a lot more confidence in my girls’ ability to execute race strategy and rebound from any disappointing performances, and that’s really key in a four-day meet. I know we will see an even tougher New Mexico at conference, so we will take the win now and prepare for February.”

With Saturday’s victory, CSU improved to 31-2 all-time against New Mexico, and avenged its loss to the Lobos from a year ago, the Rams’ first since 1993-94.

The Rams will return to the pool Saturday, facing Border War rival Wyoming in Laramie.

New Mexico Press Release

The Lobo Swimming and Diving team hit the road once again this weekend for two days of competition in Colorado. At Denver, New Mexico fell to DU by a final score of 199 to 99 and also BYU by 158 to 140 in Friday’s tri-meet. While at Fort Collins on Saturday the team collected a total of 113 points but were ultimately defeated by CSU who finished with 185 points.

The Lobos started the meet off with a second and fourth place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. The team of Kaela McKee, Ashley Blanchette, Jorgi Hobson, and Shayla King came in for second place with a time of 1.22.44. Fourth place was claimed by New Mexico’s Amber Amr, Kristin Walker, Samantha Moss, and Anna Lilliestrom who finished at 1:23.33.

Monica Dudley took third place in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth place in the 1000-yard freestyle clocking in at 5:10.07 and 10:42.26, respectively.

Heidi Zeiger also placed in the 500-yard freestyle event coming in fourth place at 5.15.14. She took a title in the 200-yard freestyle by placing third with a time of 1.54.99.

Lilliestrom brought in another third place finish for the Lobos as she touched the wall at 2:11.61 in the 200-yard IM.

Amr and McKee took third and fourth places in the 100-yard backstroke, respectively. Amr finished at 59.05 while McKee completed the race at 59.17.

Two more fourth place finishes were claimed by McKee in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2.09.60 and Kristin Walker in the 100-yard breaststroke as she finished at 1.07.36.

New Mexico came in second and fourth places in the 200-yard butterfly. Moss took second at 2.09.52 and Anna Lengyel for fourth at 2.10.71.

In the final swimming event of the day the Lobos took a third and fourth place title in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The team of King, Hobson, April Chee, and Caitlin Gardiner finished at 1:37.17 for third place. Fourth place was given to Zeiger, Blanchette, Lilliestrom, and Sarah Weihe as they finished the race at 1:38.97.

Competition for the Lobos continued to Saturday where they took first place in 6 out of 16 events.

They immediately came in for a first place finish in the 200-yard medley relay. The team of McKee, Blanchette, Hobson, and King clocked in at 1:44.50. Amr, Walker, Moss, and Chee finished at 1:48.58 for third place in the same event.

Dudley contributed towards two additional first place titles in the 1000-yard freestyle as she finished at 10:38.32 and in the 500-yard freestyle at 5.09.16.

Zeiger took another title in the 500-yard freestyle when she completed the race at 5.17.97 for third place.

New Mexico also took first place in the 50-yard freestyle along with two other placing titles. Hobson finished for first place at 24.50. King came in for second place at 24.56 and Chee for fourth place at 24.70.

The Lobos had another first place win in the 100-yard fly event. Hobson clocked in at 57.18 for first place. Moss came in third place and raced at 58.89.

McKee finished for third place in the 100-yard backstroke at 58.36 and fourth place in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2.09.79.

Gardiner came in second and third place in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle, respectively. She clocked in at 1:57.09 for her second place title and 54.23 for her third place title.

Blanchette raced the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1.06.05 which put her in third place for the event.

Lilliestrom finished for fourth place in the 200-yard IM as she touched the wall at 2.13.95.

Moss and Lengyel took a second and third place title in the 200-yard fly, respectively. Moss clocked in at 2.08.95 and Lengyel at 2.10.50.

New Mexico completed the final event of the day with a second and fourth place win for the 400-yard free relay. The team of Zeiger, Gardiner, King, and Tininenko took second place with a time of 3.36.21. Lobos Hobson, Chee, Dudley, and Weihe came in fourth place at 3.39.46.

Megan Harper brought in two first place titles for the Lobos in both springboard events against DU and BYU. She came out on top in the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events collecting 287.55 points and 297.80 points, respectively.

While competing against CSU, Harper claimed another first place title in the 3-meter diving event with 308.40 points. She took second place in the 1-meter for a final score of 285.60.

“This weekend was very tough for our athletes. Right after our Florida training trip we drove 8 hours to Colorado. However, all of our girls performed very well. This is our hardest training time for the entire season”, Coach Kono says after two days of competition.

The Lobos have only two meets remaining until the MWC Championships, Kono is excited for the upcoming meets and is confident that his athletes will have amazing performances while in San Antonio. He includes, “It will be the best conference championships ever for UNM swimming and diving.”

The team will head to Colorado Springs, Colo. next to compete in the two day Air Force Diving Invitational beginning on Jan. 31st.

Results For: New Mexico vs. Colorado State

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Author: Emily Sampl

Emily Sampl, an editorial assistant for Swimming World Magazine, is a freelance writer for USA Swimming and an assistant coach at Boulder High School and Boulder Elks Swim Team in Colorado. Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and master's degree in sport administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

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