Topper swimmers take second at C-USA championship

Laura Beranek

The men’s swimming and diving squad spent the weekend in Houston competing in the Conference USA tournament in hopes of bringing the gold back to WKU.

Despite sitting atop the leaderboards in many events and breaking multiple school records, the Toppers eventually took second place, behind Southern Methodist.  

WKU, who finished the tournament with 907.5 points, and the defending champion SMU were neck-and-neck throughout the conference tournament, but the gold medal came down to the results of the last two events.

The Mustangs finished on top with 967 points.

Coach Bruce Marchionda said he’s proud of his squad’s accomplishments despite finishing just short of a first-place finish.

“It was a phenomenal effort. We set 12 school records in three days,” he said.

The efforts were even more impressive to him because of the team has, “moved to a much harder conference, against teams that are in the top-22 in the country in SMU.”

Throughout the C-USA invitational, held at the University of Houston Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium, the men raced well enough for 23 NCAA provisional cut times to apply for the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. Those results usually take a little over a week to determine national tournament bids.

Marchionda said the senior leadership and performance, a great Florida winter training trip, and the determination of the men’s squad were key factors in the impressive number of broken program records at the tournament.

He said while the Toppers were disappointed to be coming home with silver, they should still take pride in their work in Houston.

“They know what they did,” Marchionda said. “A lot of people will not understand how well they did this weekend. Don’t understand how well they swam this weekend, how they elevated the program.”

While they wait in hopes of qualifying for the postseason, the women’s squad will hit the familiar road to Texas, destination Dallas, for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

With a strong Lady Topper showing at the conference tournament, coach Marchionda said he hopes to represent Topper nation well at the NCAA tournament.

“We’re hoping to have a handful move on to the national championship. We’re hoping to take more guys than ever before in program history,” he said. “Only time will tell.”