UNLV Men Crowned Western Athletic Conference Champions; 6 WAC Records Fall


UNLV Men Crowned Western Athletic Conference Champions; 6 WAC Records Fall

The ­­­­­University of Nevada Las Vegas men won the Western Athletic Conference Championships in Pharr, Texas over the weekend, scoring 838 points to outdistance the competition. Grand Canyon University finished second on the leaderboard with 627.5 points. California Baptist University was third with 565 points and the University of Wyoming placed fourth, scoring 542 points. The Air Force Academy came in fifth with 542 points, followed by Seattle University (194).

Here is a day-by-day glance at how the meet unfolded.

Championship Central

Day One

With a team consisting of senior Panos Bolanos, Danny Beji (SO), George Ratiu (JR), and Reece Hemmens (5Y), the University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebels went on to clinch a gold medal in the 200-yard medley relay (1:24.85).

Gael Jiminez-Mestes, of California Baptist University, won gold and broke the WAC record which had been standing since 2013 after a strong performance on the 1-meter springboard, earning 389.40 points. As the session continued, the Rebels maintained their dominance with another victory in the 800-yard freestyle relay (6:22.26). Kris Matuszewski (FR), Zsolt Szodi (FR), Panos Bolanos (SR), and Reece Hemmens (5Y) were members of the winning team.

By the end of the session, the Rebels led with 102 points, closely followed by the Air Force Academy’s 95 points.

Day Two

 UNLV’s squad of Bryson Huey (SO), George Ratiu (JR), Steven Butler (SR), and Reece Hemmens (5Y) set the tone for another day of competition by breaking the WAC record in the 200-yard freestyle relay, and meeting the NCAA Division One A standard time of 1:16.62.

In the 500 free, Air Force’s Wen Zhan negative-split his race to earn gold and set a new WAC record with a time of 4:15.96. Zhan also earned an NCAA B standard time.

UNLV took up two podium spots in the 200 IM after freshman Kris Matuszewski blasted a winning time of 1:46.14, and Dominik Bujak placed third with a time of 1:46.70. Bujak was narrowly outtouched by Grand Canyon University’s Griffin McKean who posted a 1:46.39 to clinch second place.

Remi Fabiani of California Baptist University won the 50 free (19.10) and was only .01 from breaking the meet record. The Rebels took second and third after Bryson Huey clocked in at 19.37 and Reece Hemmens followed up his teammate with a time of 19.54.

Gael Jiminez-Mestes of California Baptist University came back to earn the conference title and set a new WAC record in the 3-meter springboard with a final score of 394.75 points.

Following the conclusion of day two, UNLV topped the team rankings with 346 points and California Baptist sat in second place with 247 points.

Day Three

The Air Force Academy started the third day with Camden Swigart’s (FR) victory in the 400- yard individual medley (3:48.56). UNLV teammates Mike Breitbart (SO) and Dominik Bujak (FR) placed second and third, with times of 3:49.72 and 3:50.21. David Mihalic (3:50.43) of the University of Wyoming and Griffin McKean of Grand Canyon University (3:51.22) followed that up to earn fourth and fifth place. All of these finishers earned NCAA B standards.

Grand Canyon’s Adrian Curbelo Tejera (GS) narrowly edged out Charley Page Jones (FR) of UNLV, 46.91 to 46.96, for the conference title in 100-yard butterfly. Gavin Smith finished third with a time of 47.02 and Steven Butler touched the wall at 47.13. All top four finishers earned NCAA B standard cuts.

The Air Force Academy grabbed another gold medal after Wen Zhang (SR) shaved an additional two-tenths of a second off his preliminary swim in the 200-yard freestyle (1:31.42), and earned an NCAA A standard time. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Danny Beji (52.14) earned an NCAA B standard time and captured another gold for the Rebels. Second place went to California Baptist University’s Jonathan Reiter with a time of 53. 21.

Panos Bolanos of UNLV seized a conference title by a sizable margin after dropping a 45.80 in the 100-yard backstroke to earn an NCAA B standard. The Rebels went on to earn their third relay title of the meet in the 400-yard medley relay (3:07.45) with a squad that consisted of the leadoff Panos Bolanos (SR), Danny Beji (SO), Charley Page-Jones (FR), and anchor Reece Hemmens (5Y).

During the preliminary session, a team diving exhibition between California Baptist University and the Air Force Academy took place in which a team of John Angelovic, Gael Jimenez Mentes and Evan Honer scored 372.70 points, outscoring the Air Force’s team of Erik Pfaffenbichler, Tristan Trax and Alex Kenyon.

Day Four

On the last day of the meet, California Baptist’s Mark Kovacsics earned an NCAA B standard time and was the top finisher in the 1650-yard freestyle after dropping a time of 15:01.05.

Panos Bolanos of UNLV set a Western Athletic Conference record in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:43.89 and picked up an NCAA B-cut time in pursuit of the conference title. Sam Jennings (GCU) and McKay Michelson (UNLV) took second and third, with marks of 1:44.05. and 1:45.09.

California Baptist collected another NCAA B time after Remi Fabiani finished first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 42.32. He was followed by the Air Force’s Wen Zhang (42.32) and George Ratiu of UNLV (43.41).

Jonathan Rom of Grand Canyon set the WAC and WAC meet record after he captured the 200-yard breaststroke title with a time of 1:53.90. The top four finishers all met the NCAA B standard, including Jonathan Reiter (1:55.54) who touched second and Mike Breitbart (1:56.86) who took third.

Quinn Cynor of Wyoming posted a top time of 1:44.30 in the 200-yard butterfly to earn the Cowboys’ first gold medal of the meet.

To close out the competition, the UNLV team of George Ratiu (GS), Panos Bolanos (SO), Krist Matuszewski (SR), and Reece Hemmes (SO) posted a time 2:51.02 to take gold and earn the NCAA B standard in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Over the course of the meet, the University of Nevada Las Vegas collected nine gold medals.