SWIMMING: Lady Tops capture Sun Belt crown

Josh Buckman

Last season Western’s womens’ swimming and diving teams won their second straight Sun Belt Conference title, then proceeded to lose nine team members to graduation.

Heading into this year’s SBC tournament the team designed T-shirts giving their response, “So what’s your point?”

They proved themselves right last weekend winning the SBC tournament. In three days of competition the Lady Toppers showed confidence and excitement to help them outscore New Mexico State.

“I think the fact we won has a lot to do with team unity…,” freshman Meredith Mountjoy said. “It just gave us energy.”

After finishing fourth in the first event Western went on to build a 41-point lead after the first day.

“After the first morning, with all the confidence we showed, I knew we had it won,” coach Bill Powell said.

On day two the Lady Tops started with a second place finish in the 200-yard Medley relay, but countered that when Mountjoy set a new school and conference record of 4:29.71 in the 400-yard individual medley. Her teammates, freshman Amber Miller (4:33.64) and junior Penta Stanley (4:33.64), finished second and third.

Senior Carol Brown followed that win by taking top spot in the 100-yard butterfly (58.23).

Sophomore Alexis Rieck and teammate senior Deanne Thomas grabbed the top two spots in the 100-yard backstroke (57.53) and (57.58).

In the first diving event of the meet sophomore Trisha Nailor won the one-meter diving (260.45) en route to her first ever Sun Belt Conference Diver of the Year award. Teammate Marci Kascir finished second with 249.45 points.

Miller started the final day of competition by setting a new conference record of 17:17.01 seconds in the 150-yard freestyle followed by freshman teammate Stacy Schortgen (17.24.21). senior Meredith McCauley finished fourth with a career best (17:33.66).

The Lady Toppers followed this up with a first place finish by Rieck (2:05.12) in the 200-yard backstroke.

In the 200-yard butterfly Mountjoy won with a time of 2:07.10 seconds followed by freshman Jordan Beck (2:08.96). Kascir picked up a win in the three-meter diving (431.75) and Nailor finished second (383.45).

Overall Western scored 916.5 points. They were followed by New Mexico State (667.5), Denver (539), North Texas (476), Louisiana-Monroe (390) and Arkansas-Little Rock (147).

The win concludes the most important goal for the Lady Toppers’ season. The win, along with their 17-5 record makes this season a successful one.

“I expected a hard season, and it was,” Brown said. “But I thought we’d work hard, and we did.

The success of this season gives hope for a strong and bright future for women’s’ swimming and diving on the hill.

“We have a great team, but we’re losing three good seniors. However we have a great group of freshmen coming in next year,” sophomore Lucy Faria said.

Reach Josh Buckman at [email protected]