COLLEGE STATION, Texas - It was a historic performance for a pair of Boise State relay teams on the opening night of the Mountain West Swimming and Diving Championships Wednesday, as the 200 medley and 800 free relays each turned in record-setting performances at Texas A&M Natatorium.
Boise State ended the night in second place in the team standings with 91 points, behind Nevada (129). The Wolf Pack was boosted by 65 points from the 1-meter diving competition as they claimed first, second, fourth and sixth in the event.
"I'm just really happy for the girls, especially the 800 free relay getting that A cut, and the medley relay just off of an A cut," said Boise State head coach Jeremy Kipp. "That first relay's always tough on the nerves, but it's good to get a win. Tonight was great competition."
The 800 free relay of Emma Chard, Brittany Aoyama, Blake Balogh and Felicity Cann recorded the second NCAA A cut in school history and smashed both the school and Mountain West records with a winning time of 7:04.60. That time bested the old Boise State record of 7:08.51, set at last year's conference meet, by 3.91 seconds and was 2.04 seconds better than the Mountain West record of 7:06.64 set at the 2014 championships.
The winning time was 1.38 seconds ahead of runner-up Nevada and a whopping 9.14 seconds ahead of third-place San Diego State. Chard and Aoyama opened the relay by staking the Broncos to a three-second lead over the Wolf Pack, with Balogh and Cann holding off Nevada's sibling pair of Teresa and Antonia Baerens to close out the victory.
"That was a great performance by Emma to get us out to a good lead, and Felicity had a great swim and really stepped up against the conference's record holder in the 200 free," Kipp noted.
Aoyama, Sam Wicks, Laura Williams and Katelyn Martin opened the night session with a record-breaking performance of their own, claiming the conference 200 medley relay title in a school-record time of 1:37.63. The time, good for an NCAA B cut, edged out the old record, set in a time trial at the 2014 conference meet, by 0.12 of a second, and was just three-hundredths of a second off of the Mountain West record set at last year's championship event.
Wicks staked the Broncos to an slim lead on the opening backstroke leg, with UNLV in hot pursuit. The Rebels caught up and took a slim lead of its own on the breaststroke leg before Aoyama pulled the Broncos just ahead on the butterfly leg. That set the stage for Martin to blaze through the freestyle leg and give the Broncos the victory over UNLV by 0.73 of a second.
Earlier in the day, the Broncos had three divers in the 1-meter consolation final. Wyoming's Keely Bishop topped the B final for the ninth-place overall finish, with sophomore Kacee Olson next with a score of 269.80. Karli Kriewall posted a score of 244.75 and Cassidy Bose a score of 236.60 to round out the eight-diver consolation.
In the preliminary round, Kriewall missed out on an A final berth (top eight) by just 0.45 of a point, finishing ninth with a score of 262.05, just behind the 262.50 of eighth-place finisher Ariana Milone of Colorado State.
Olson (254.05) and Bose (252.85) were 11th and 12th in qualifying, respectively, while sophomore Kiley Carlson was 21st with a score of 235.00.
Action will resume at the championship meet at 5:30 p.m. MT with the 200 medley relay final. Along with the leadoff relay, Wednesday night's session will include the finals of 1-meter diving and the 800 free relay. Boise State will aim for a second-straight Mountain West title in the 800 free relay at approximately 6:10 p.m. MT, having captured last year's event in a school-record time of 7:08.51.
Day two of the meet will get underway Thursday morning at 10 a.m. MT with preliminaries of the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 3-meter diving getting underway. Thursday's finals session is set for a 5:30 p.m. MT start and will include the 200 free relay.