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Boise State women's swimming and diving sets out to defend its Mountain West Championship Feb. 20-23, at Palo Alto College Aquatic Center in San Antonio.
The meet begins Wednesday, with one-meter diving and a pair of relay events. For the final three days of the meet, preliminary heats will begin at 11 a.m. and finals will start at 6:30 p.m. (CT). For a full breakdown of the weekend's events see page 3.
About the Broncos: Head coach Kristin Hill and the Broncos return 18 letterwinners from the 2012 Mountain West Champions, including nine All-MW performers and two individual champions. Senior Christine Raininger (400-yard individual medley) and sophomore Sydney Johansen (200-yard individual medley) took home gold at the conference meet. Johansen and senior Stevie Hughey return from representing Boise State at the 2012 NCAA Championships, marking the second-straight season the Broncos have a pair of NCAA returners on the roster.
The Broncos finished the dual-meet season with an 8-2 record, falling only to No. 1 USC (Jan. 4) and No. 13 Arizona (Nov. 17). Boise State's seniors finished their careers with a 39-8 mark in duels and are seeking a fourth conference title to cap their time as Broncos. The 2012-13 squad also took second at the Missouri Invitational, their only invite meet this season.
Follow it Live: The Mountain West is providing real-time scoring for the entire meet and free live video of finals heats at its web site, TheMWC.com. For extensive Boise State coverage, check out the championship blog at BroncoSports.com and follow the official twitter account, @BroncoSportsSD.
About the Meet: San Diego State enters the Mountain West Championships as the preseason favorite and most likely to knock the Broncos from their throne. The Aztecs won the 2011 championship and finished just five points behind Boise State last season in the closes team score in meet history. They enter this year's meet with the conference's top time in seven events. They also hold the top time in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
UNLV will also make a run at the title with the top time in four individual events and conference-best marks in four relays. The Rebels finished third last season.
Colorado State's Breann Fuller holds the top time in the 200-yard backstroke and has won each backstroke event twice at the conference championships during her career. Fuller, a senior, redshirted last season.
Boise State lays claim to the best time in one event, Rachel Heaney's 200-yard butterfly.
The Pool: The Mountain West Championships move to the Palo Alto College Aquatic Center in San Antonio this year for the first time. The meet had been held at Oklahoma City Community College everey year since the conference's inception in 1999...While the facility may be new to most of the conference, Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada all competed in the Western Athletic Conference Championships at the same pool.
The Broncos won their second WAC Championship (2011) at the Palo Alto College Aquatic Center and still hold five pool records, including two relay marks.
The Wolf Pack and Bulldogs finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at the 2012 WAC Championships held at the same pool. They enter their first MW Championships this week.
Broncos Tabbed Second: Boise State was picked to finish second in the Mountain West by a vote of the conference coaches. The Broncos led the way with five first-place votes and totaled 59 points, but finished one point behind San Diego State (60) in the preseason projections. Boise State is the defending champion, topping the Aztecs by five points at the 2012 MW Championships in the closest team race in meet history. SDSU won the 2011 crown. The Broncos were also picked to finish second behind the Aztecs in the 2011-12 preseason poll.
200 Fly Factory: Boise State boasts five of the top 11 swimmers in the Mountain West in the 200-yard butterfly. Junior Rachel Heaney (1:58.50) is nearly five seconds ahead of second place in the conference, which belongs to fellow Bronco Brooke Balogh (2:03.08). Jenni Domanowski (sixth; 2:04.64), Jessica Bottelberghe (10th; 2:05.46) and Christine Raininger (11th; 2:05.59) are all currently in prime scoring position in the event. Heaney has six wins in 200 butterfly this season, including the Missouri Invitational, and 14 victories for her career. Heaney won the 200 butterfly at the 2011 WAC Championships as a freshman. She took third in the event at last season's MW Championships. Raininger was the 2010 WAC Champion in the 200 butterfly.
Wicks Warms Up in January: Freshman Sam Wicks broke out for the Broncos during the month of January. Wicks emerged as the anchor on Boise State's 200- and 400-yard freestyle and medley relays and picked up the first two individual wins of her career. She won the 50-yard freestyle at Denver (Jan. 25), beating out the Pioneers' Sam Correa who entered the meet ranked No. 65 in the country in the event. The next day Wicks won the 100-yard backstroke at Colorado State, pulling away from the Rams' Breann Fuller, a two-time Mountain West champion in the event.The first-year Bronco finished second in both events during Boise State's meet against Wyoming (Jan. 19).
Bottelberghe Coming on Strong: Sophomore Jessica Bottelberghe storms into the Mountain West Championships having won nine of the last 11 individual events she has entered, including six-consecutive races. Bottelberghe swept the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events three times in the final five meets (BYU, Dec. 15; Wyoming, Jan. 19; and Denver, Jan. 25). Her winning time in the 100 freestyle against the Pioneers is the second-fastest in the Mountain West since Dec. 15. Bottelberghe won just one event in the season's first four meets.
Sister Acts: Boise State's 2012-13 roster features Brooke (junior) and Blake (freshman) Balogh. The Baloghs, from Lincoln, Neb., both specialize in middle-distance and distance freestyle events. Brooke also swims butterfly and individual medley events. Each eanred their first-career wins this year in the 200-yard freestyle...Freshman Devin Madsen will be compeing against her sister, Alex (Fresno State), at the MW Championships. The Madsens both swim backstrok and sprint freestyle races.