WKU men and women both finish second at SBC Finals

Kurt Carson

WKU finished the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Championships on Saturday in a similar manner as it experienced last season.

Both the men’s and women’s teams finished runner up to Denver, who swept both contests like last year.

Head Coach Bruce Marchionda said although WKU didn’t reach its goal of two championships, he was proud of his team’s efforts at the four-day event in Rockwall, Texas.

“Our goal every year is to win conference championships, and we fell short in that spot, but we got great performances,” Marchionda said.

The Toppers entered the final day of competition with an edge over Denver for first place in the standings.

On Day Two of the championships, the men’s team suffered a disqualification in the 200 freestyle relay that set them back to second place at the end of the day.

However, they bounced back on Friday to hold a 25-point lead heading into the final day of competition.

“The men could’ve easily given up, but they showed courage and fight to come right back the next day,” Marchionda said. “They did an outstanding job fighting back.”

But it came down to the last event Saturday, and WKU couldn’t hang on, falling to Denver by just 13 points.   

Marchionda said he’s proud of the effort his team put forth despite the second-place finish.

“I was very pleased with the performances during the course of the week,” Marchionda said. “It was a great weekend for us. Obviously we’re a little disappointed falling 13 points short.”

The women’s team also fell short, as they went into the last day battling to hold off North Texas for second place more than they were charging for first place.

They were able to secure second place on the final day, which Marchionda said was exactly what he wanted to see from them.

“Our girls got together, put the hammer down and determined that wasn’t going to happen,” Marchionda said. “They pulled their distance from them and finished solidly.

“They haven’t been in that position before because they won most of their meets. They were able to pull together as a team.”

Marchionda pointed to a number of things to suggest that the week wasn’t all for naught.

Both the men’s and women’s teams combined broke 12 school records and three Sun Belt meet and conference records. They also met 16 NCAA provisional qualifying times at the 2012 championships.

WKU sophomore Heitor Rodrigues was named Sun Belt Men’s Co-Swimmer of the Year.

Marchionda said the team as a whole “showed a lot of character” this week.

Marchionda and his staff will now make preparations for a number of individual swimmers in their respective Olympic trials.