BYU senior Neal Hamilton won the 400 IM at the 2008 MWCC with a time of 3:53.26. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The 2008 Mountain West Conference Championships ended with the same results as the 2007 year-end conference championships for the BYU Cougars swim and dive teams -- BYU women took first place and the Cougar men took second behind UNLV.
The Cougar women ended the 2008 MWCC with 763 points with UNLV coming in second with 622, while on the men's side of the action the Rebels took first by scoring 800 points and BYU came in second as they finished with 642.5.
BYU WOMEN'S TEAM
The BYU women saw a very strong performance on the first day of action from its 800-yard freestyle relay team as they finished in first. They finished with a time of 7:18. 88 -- four second faster than the rest of the field. This 800 free relay team was made up of Rachel Grant, Leilani Roberts and the sister duo of Michelle and Natasha Menezes swam the final two legs of the race.
Sophomore Tawni Jones highlighted the Cougar women's first day as she was the only individual winner in its events. She won the 1-meter diving competition with a score of 279.85. Coming into this week's conference tournament, Jones's season-best score of 301.05 was the best score in the MWC this season.
The Cougar women were on top of the pack of competitors after the second day as they finished with 342 points. Sophomores Natasha Menezes and Jones both won individual events during day two of the MWCC for BYU. Menezes won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:51.52. This time is three seconds faster than Menezes previous season best.
Jones completed the sweep of diving events for the women's side as she placed in first from the 3-meter board with a score of 323.65. Jones won the 1-meter competition on the first day of events at the MWCC.
"Every team swam very well in this meet this year which includes our team," BYU women's coach Stan Crump said. "Winning both the regular-season and conference championship titles in the same year does not happen very often, which is a great credit to our team."
Day three for the Cougars was highlighted by freshman Rachel Grant setting a new MWC record in the 400 IM. Grant swam her record 400 IM in a time of 4:18.94, which broke the previous record that was set in 2004 by UNLV's Julie Babin.
BYU's Natasha Menezes also won her second individual race of this year's conference championships as she touched the wall in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:49.09. Menezes won the 500 free on the second day of action.
Senior Angela Goodson-Price won her second consecutive 200-yard butterfly MWCC title for the Cougars on the final day of swimming. Goodson-Price finished the 200 fly with a time of 2:01.39, which is almost six seconds faster than her previous season-best time. BYU freshman Rachel Grant finished the 200 fly in a close second to her teammate as she touched the wall in a time of 2:03.35.
MWC yearlong individual awards were also given out at the end of the MWCC. BYU's Jones was awarded the Female Diver of the Year honor and the Cougar's diving coach, Keith Russell, was named the women's Diving Coach of the Year.
BYU MEN'S TEAM
The relay team of Jacoby Jacobsen, Vytenis Slenys, Jorge Azevedo and Jeffrey Su placed the highest for the men on the first day as they came in second place in the 200 medley relay. They finished with a time of 1:29.39, which their time was just over a half of a second behind the UNLV team.
The BYU men's swim and dive team were able to propel past two opponents on the second day of competition. They now only trail UNLV and Wyoming after two days of action. The Cougar men were highlighted by personal performances from Travis Price and Neal Hamilton in the 500 free and 200 IM, respectively.
Price finished the 500 free with a time of 4:23.99, which is a new season-best time for BYU in that event by five seconds, which earned Price third place in the race. Hamilton's third-place finish in the 200 IM is a new personal-best time for him on the season. He touched the wall in 1:50.37 in the 200 IM and was only a second behind the race winner.
On the third day the BYU men had its first individual winner of these MWCC as senior Hamilton swam a time of 3:53.26 in the 400 IM. Hamilton's winning time was four seconds better than his previous season-best time in this race.
The Cougar men saw their biggest individual performance on the fourth and final day come from Gregor Greiner who recorded a new season-best time in the 100 freestyle. Greiner's time of 44.53 in the 100 free earned him a second place finish in the race.
"We had some ups and downs as a team in this meet," BYU men's coach Tim Powers said. "We had to fight back hard on the last day to get into the second place spot which I was proud of our team for. There were definitely things that we learned from this meet to help us in the future."