BYU in First Headed into Final Day of MWC Champ

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Preserving the leads they have had since the very first race, the BYU men's and women's swimming and diving teams remained in first place Friday at the inaugural Mountain West Conference Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The BYU men's team finished the third day of competition with a score of 540, while the women racked up 507 points. UNLV's men's and women's teams are both in second place headed into the final day of competition.

Leading the way for the women was the surprising first-place finish of Amanda Grant in the 100 breast. Grant won her first collegiate race ever in grabbing the conference crown in the event over UNLV's Ericka Korb. Diver Rachelle Smith Kunkel, who just two days before won her first conference title on the 1-meter board, swept both events by beating out Utah's Crystal Gregory on the 3-meter board.

"We had a great night," women's head coach Stan Crump said. "We've had some phenomenal races and some overall good and solid competition. Our diving has been awesome, and we're looking to put ourself in a good position to win tomorrow night."

BYU's leading breaststroker, Jennifer Tasker, false started in the morning preliminaries and was disqualified from the finals. However, she swam a time trial in the evening and posted an NCAA-qualifying time.

Also coming up strong for the BYU women were Mary Duffin, who took fifth in the 400 IM, and Anna Tutunnikova, who won third in the 3-meter diving event. Senior Jann Pickens also placed sixth in the 100 fly. The women also finished fifth, seventh and eighth in the 100 back and sixth and eighth in the 200 free. The 800 free relay team swam to a third-place finish as well.

The men had an equally impressive night, led by junior All-American Arunas Savickas' performance in the 100 back. A night after breaking his school record and swimming to an NCAA provisional time in the 500 free, Savickas posted another NCAA-qualifying time in the 100 back. Savickas also anchored the 800 free relay team of Rob Morris, Alex Denke and Kenny Carpenter to an NCAA-qualifying first-place finish.

The Cougar men were also led individually by Morris, who took third in the 200 free, and freshman Gary Tan, who placed third behind Savickas in the 100 back. In the 100 breast, Drew Watkins, John Lowry and Keith Cardon placed 3-4-5 for the Cougars. Kenny Carpenter and Alex Denke had sixth place finishes, while Stephen Wells finished eighth in the 200 free.

Both BYU teams will look to wrap up their first Mountain West Conference Championships tomorrow night as the meet comes to a close with races in the 100 free and 200 back, breast and butterfly. The platform diving competition will also take place. Final results will be available on the official BYU athletics web page at www.byucougars.com.

Team Rankings (after three days):

Women:

1. BYU 507

2. UNLV 446.5

3. Colo. St. 379

4. Utah 307

5. Wyoming 292

6. San Diego St. 207

7. New Mexico 180.5

8. Air Force 153

Men:

1. BYU 549

2. UNLV 488

3. Air Force 414

4. Utah 360

5. Wyoming 346