SAN JOSE, California, January 31. THE San Jose State University women's swimming and diving team produced wins in nine of 16 events, including a pair of well-placed 1-2-3 sweeps, to knock off two-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion University of Nevada, 170.5-129.5, in a dual meet at The Aquatics Center on Saturday, January 31.
With its 15th consecutive dual meet victory since a season-opening loss at No. 2 Stanford, San Jose State improves its record to 15-1 overall and a perfect 7-0 against WAC foes on the year, with both marks the best in known program history. Nevada drops to 6-3 overall and 3-2 against league opposition, with two losses coming against the Spartans. San Jose State had already defeated the Wolf Pack, 127-115, in Las Cruces, N.M., back on October 11. That earlier result marked the Spartans' first win over Nevada since 1985.
Sophomore sprinter Meghan McCurley was arguably tops among a host of individual highlights on a near-perfect day for the Spartans and fourth-year head coach Sage Hopkins. McCurley, a native of Fair Oaks, Calif., swept the sprint freestyle events while aiding in two relay triumphs for the Spartans, turning in an incredible, lifetime-best 100-yard freestyle split of 50.30 as the anchor on the first-place ‘A' 400 medley relay to kick off the day's swimming activity. She took the 50 in 23.52, just .47 seconds off her best ever, and the 100 in 52.47.
Lauren Mar, a fourth-year senior out of San Francisco, Calif., was also a member of both winning relays for San Jose State. Individually, she won the 100 backstroke in 57.55, and improved on her lifetime best for a second straight meet in the 200 back, swimming 2:06.92 to place second behind fellow fourth-year senior Katey Nelson. Nelson won the event by over a full second, in 2:05.72. Mar's mark moves her up from 10th to eighth on the all-time San Jose State chart, and was over a full second faster than her previous best of 2:07.97 from her 2008-09 season debut in the 200 back against Cal State Bakersfield exactly one week ago.
Nevada took an early 15-4 advantage after the three-meter diving event to start things off, but San Jose State made the lasting early statement by storming to 1-3 showing in the 400 medley relay. When McCurley hit the water for her blistering anchor leg, the Spartan ‘A' was trailing the Wolf Pack ‘A' by over two full seconds at 2.26. Mar and sophomores Caitlin Macky and Rudie Guerrero made up the remainder of the foursome. Nevada had the fastest 400 medley relay in the conference heading into the meet.
The Spartans still trailed, 30-25, after a 2-3-5 effort behind Nevada's Courtney Eads (10:14.96) in the 1000 free by freshmen Amy Friedhoff (10:15.28) and Megan Mills (10:31.09), and sophomore Ashley Krisman (10:50.37), but that changed following the 200 freestyle.
In that 200 free, sophomore Julia Koch (1:54.16), junior Erin Garcia (1:54.74), the team's lone San Jose native, and freshman walk-on Kristin Yamaguchi (1:55.58) raced to a 1-2-3 sweep for maximum points to give the Spartans the lead for good at 41-33. Garcia and Yamaguchi each turned in best marks.
Friedhoff's 1000 time improved on what was already the top mark in the WAC, by over four seconds. Mills was just .05 seconds off her collegiate best.
San Jose State continued to pour it on, with Mar (57.55) and Guerrero (57.97) taking the top two spots in the 100 back, and Macky (1:05.52) and sophomore tri-captain Kirsten Trammell (1:05.59) going 2-3 in the 100 breast. Guerrero's 100 back was a lifetime best.
Junior Hannah Tringham won the 200 fly in 2:06.18, with senior Beste Erener fourth (2:09.90) and redshirt freshman Linzy Warkentin (2:11.93) adding a valuable point with a fifth-place finish in her first collegiate 200 butterfly race.
McCurley's win in the 50 closed out the first half of the meet, with sophomore teammate Daphne Yeung sprinting 24.38 for second.
Coming out of the one-meter diving break, through nine total events, the Spartans held an advantage of 92.5-76.5. They wasted no time in erasing any doubt about the final result, putting together a second 1-2-3 sweep in the 100 free, with Garcia (53.29) and Yeung (53.73) following McCurley. It was in fact a 1-2-3-4 effort for the Spartans, with sophomore Julie Wynn's 54.83, but a maximum of three competitors per team can earn points in individual events.
Nelson and Mar went 1-2 in the 200 back, with Macky (2:22.04) and Trammell (2:22.17) 2-3 again in the 200 breast. Erener turned a difficult double for her team, swimming the 200 back in 2:12.70 before jumping right back in the water for the 200 breast (2:33.64). The two fifth-place finishes netted two more points for San Jose State.
Friedhoff won the 500 free in 5:02.22 over Nevada's senior standout Eads (5:05.42), with Koch (5:06.92) third and Mills (5:08.43) in fourth. In the 100 fly, Guerrero was second in 57.03, with Tringham getting under the one-minute mark for the first time in 59.51 for fourth. Warkentin was fifth (59.96) with Garcia sixth (1:00.57) in her first major college butterfly race.
In the day's first event, sophomore Jo Thibodaux scored a career-high 266.78 points on the three-meter board to place third, with freshman teammate Jessica Holden in sixth (236.40). Later, Holden was third on the one-meter board (236.18) with Thibodaux right behind (233.18).
The 200 individual medley saw Yamaguchi as the top Spartan finisher, in third with a time of 2:11.00. Macky (2:11.62) and Tringham (2:13.37) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
To close things out, Yeung, McCurley, Mar and Garcia went 1:36.51 to win the 200 free relay. Sophomore tri-captain Ashley Ladd, Koch, Guerrero and Wynn went 1:39.97 for third.
The third-place San Jose State ‘B' medley relay (3:59.78) was made up of Nelson, Erener, senior tri-captain Tarolyn Robertson and Yeung.
San Jose State posted the 41-point victory over its top in-league rival, without the services Saturday of top freshmen Heather Denman and Tomi Petty, both unavailable through illness. Denman already boasts the top times in the entire WAC in four separate events.
Nevada senior Candice Minette and Summer Halwas-Morgan (200 breast, 200 IM) were the only other competitors besides McCurley to win two individual events. Minette swept the diving events. Eads (1000 free), Margaret Doolittle (100 breast) and Marichi Gandionco (100 fly) were the other Pack winners.
San Jose State and Nevada meet again in San Antonio, Texas, at the 2009 WAC Championship, February 25-28, as the Wolf Pack attempt to defend their back-to-back titles, and the Spartans look at minimum to get into the top three for the first time in program history.
The Spartans conclude the 2008-09 regular season at home next Saturday, February 7, on Senior Day against WAC foe Fresno State. The first of 16 events at The Aquatics Center on campus is slated for an approximate 12:00 p.m. start, following special introductions of the Spartan senior class of Beste Erener, Lauren Mar, Katey Nelson and Tarolyn Robertson.
Final Team Score
San Jose State (15-1) 170.5, Nevada (6-3) 129.5
Special thanks to San Jose State for contributing this report.