Air Force Men, Colorado State Women Take Early Bird Invitational

FORT COLLINS, Colorado, October 20. THE Colorado State women took home another Early Bird Invitational title this weekend at the Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC). After a two-day stint and 40 events, the swimming and diving team finished with 1,274 points. For the men, the Air Force scored 1027.50 points, 72.5 points ahead of second-place Wyoming.

The Colorado State women continuously stepped up to lead the invite with top five finishes in all of their 20 events. Divers Elyse Hall, Cori Swango, Kristie Bowdler and Jacqueline Bibee took home top 10 finishes in the 1-meter and 3-meter on Friday.

As the endless relays and individual events continued, Colorado State persisted to prove its presence and dominance as a team. Sophomore Nora Kennedy took first in the 200 Fly with a time of 2:09.14 and freshman Michelle Price took second in the 200 Backstroke event. Maddie Gamble rounded out CSU's impressive freshmen with a personal-best time of 18:53 in the 1650 Freestyle, which placed her in second.

"Maddie and Michelle are two freshmen, along with Nora as a sophomore, who are from Fort Collins and really impressed their hometown today," said Head Coach John Mattos.

With nine other teams present at the invite on Saturday, the heats were packed with excitement and potential on both men's and women's events. Wyoming took second place in both men's and women's scores, finishing well ahead of its contenders. Following in third for both genders was TCU. Rounding out the top five in the women's scores was the UNC with 402 points and Nebraska-Omaha with 194.50 points.

"Wyoming did a great job and is a formidable opponent. UNC had a couple of real good swimmers here today," said Mattos.

Colorado State is full steam ahead after the invite and has learned what it takes to get through numerous and strenuous events.

"We're pretty solid in every area and placing in relays will take care of itself. We're pleased we came out on top; we didn't expect it, we worked for it. Next week we will be on the road for the first time this season, which is exciting for the girls, and we will see who will improve time-wise at a higher level," said Mattos.

For the Air Force men, the day opened for the men with a victory, as Air Force's 200 medley relay team of Kai Yamashiro (Jr., Kaneohe, Hawaii), Justin Day (Jr., Peyton, Colo.), Bryan Avery (Jr., Mililani, Hawaii) and Stephen Grace (So., Cincinnati, Ohio) captured first place with a mark of 1:35.61. The Falcons also won the 800 freestyle relay, with Avery, Sean O'Keefe (So., Lake Oswego, Ore.), Benjamin Gunn (Fr., Gainesville, Ga.) and T.J. Cowling (Sr., Newport News, Va.) combining for a time of 7:01.07.

Air Force took the top two spots in the 1650 free, with O'Keefe winning the race in a time of 16:44.26, followed by freshman Tom Hansen (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) with a mark of 16:57.22. The Falcons also finished first and second in the 200 backstroke, as Yamashiro clocked in at 1:55.84, while Gunn registered a mark of 1:56.48.

Avery and Chris Morin (So., Crown Point, Ind.) finished second and third in the 100 fly, clocking in at 52.60 and 52.62, respectively. Day added a second-place finish in the 100 breast with a time of 59.09, Cowling took second in the 100 free at 47.48 and Nick Dixon (Jr., Plymouth, Mich.) finished second in the 200 fly with a mark of 2:00.62. Also capturing a second-place finish for Air Force was the 400 freestyle relay team of Morin, Grace, Avery and Cowling, clocking in at 3:09.07.

Rounding out the group of the Falcons' top three finishers was O'Keefe, who took third place in the 200 free, recording a time of 1:45.88.

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