OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., March 1. REBEL forces took control of the Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend as UNLV zipped to team titles in the men’s and women’s competitions. The titles were the first for the Rebels in MWC action and snapped Brigham Young’s five-year stranglehold on both championships.
The UNLV men piled up 839 points, finishing ahead of Brigham Young (745.5) and Wyoming (592). Utah (560.5) and Air Force (403) completed the top five. As for the women, UNLV totaled 701.5 points to edge BYU (670). Utah (607), Colorado State (489), Wyoming (431), Air Force (221.50) and San Diego State (153) placed third through seventh.
A 2004 Olympian, Wyoming’s Scott Usher completed a career sweep of the 200 breaststroke on the final night of competition when he hit the wall in 1:57.51. A day earlier, however, Usher was upset in the finals of the 100 breast when UNLV’s Patrick Adams won the race in 54.26.
Despite the split of his breast races, Usher is expected to be a leading contender for two wins at the NCAA Championships later this month. The men's meet is slated for the University of Minnesota.
The Runnin' Rebels clinched the men’s championship on the final night when Adam Martinson took first in the 200 backstroke, leading four UNLV swimmers in the final. The foursome of Joe Bartoch, Brandon Nelms, Jonathan Hugo and John Byers finished matters by winning the 400 free relay in 2:57.43.
Air Force's Chris Knaute accounted for two conference records, as he won the 400 individual medley in 3:50.22 and the 1,650 free in 15:09.15. Meanwhile, Bartoch set a record in the 100 butterfly (47.30) and UNLV set Mountain West standards in the 200 medley relay (1:27.02), 400 medley relay (3:13.92) and 200 free relay (1:18.79).
For the UNLV women, the 400 free relay of Jessie Bradshaw, Lauren Browning, Katie Wronn and Marina Sandback captured the final event to punctuate the title. Prior to the relay, Jessica Field (fourth), Nichole McLean (sixth) and Daryl Packard (eighth) delivered in platform diving to provide a cushion over BYU.
Depth was the key on the final day, as Kim Bonney was the sole individual champion for UNLV. Bonney clocked 2:17.31 to win the 200 breast.
Records on the female side featured Utah's Marta Stepanczuk in the 1,650 free (16:32.83) and Utah's Kelsey Patterson in three-meter diving (524.80). UNLV set a conference mark in the 200 free relay (1:32.73).