MWC Swim & Dive Championships On Horizon

BYU senior Natasha Menezes will defend her 500 free and 1650 free 2009 MWC titles. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- After a successful season, the men’s and women’s BYU swim and dive teams travel to Oklahoma City for the Mountain West Conference Championships Feb. 24-27.

The women’s team looks for its fourth-straight MWC championship and ninth in 11 years, holding a perfect dual meet record on the season with 11-0 overall and 8-0 in the MWC.

The men’s team was unable to come out with a win in MWC competition but finished 2-5 overall (0-5 MWC). The men will look for their sixth MWC championship.

“Everybody is looking really good after their last few weeks of tapering,” said BYU head coach Tim Powers. “We are going to take every event and do the best we can and that will motivate us to do well.”

The BYU favorites include sophomore Brandon Watson who leads the conference on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards while senior Tawni Jones leads the conference on the 3-meter board. Sophomore Rachel Grant leads the conference in the 200 fly and the 400 IM.

Junior Aleesha Miller and senior Kirsty Ferrell rank in the top eight in the 50 and 100 free in the MWC while senior David Mason ranks 15th in the conference in the 50 and 10th in the 100.

The Menezes sisters rank in the top 16 in the 200 free with Natasha Menezes in third and Michelle Menezes in 16th. Grant also ranks seventh in the 200 free in the conference, but will not be swimming the event. Junior John Kendrick ranks fourth in the 200 free for the Cougars in the conference.

N. and M. Menezes both rank in the top eight in the 500 free, while Kendrick ranks fifth for the men. N. Menezes ranks third in the mile while M. Menezes ranks fifth and Amy Xu ranks eighth. Kendrick ranks eighth in the mile for the men.

Sophomore Candice Smith ranks second in the 100 and 200 backstroke events while senior Jeff Ferrell ranks 20th in the 100 back and eighth in the 200 back.

Junior captain Sara Jayne Christiansen Baldwin ranks fourth in the conference in the 100 breaststroke with freshman walk-on Londyn Clawson in ninth. Mason ranks sixth and junior Vytenis Slenys ranks eighth in the 100 breast for the men.

Clawson ranks fifth in the 200 breast while Slenys ranks sixth in the same event for the men.

Grant ranks third in the 100 fly with Ferrell in fifth while Slenys leads the Cougar men in 13th for the event. Grant leads the MWC in the 200 fly with her time of 1:59.87 achieved at the Toshiba Classic in November. She is three seconds ahead of Ashley Grisdale of New Mexico (2:02.50).

Sophomore Brenton Stevenson ranks 14th in the 200 fly for the men while Grant and Baldwin rank second and fifth in the 200 individual medley, respectively. Slenys ranks fourth in the 200 IM for the Cougar men.

Grant also leads the conference in the 400 IM with a time of 4:17.84, five seconds ahead of Elena Karpeeva of San Diego State (4:22.03). Freshman Hayden Palmer ranks second in the 400 IM for the Cougars with a time of 4:01.68. He is one second behind Thomas Hansen of Air Force and two seconds ahead of Mark Hansen of Air Force.

Jones ranks second in 1-meter diving with a score of 317.10 behind Ashlee Erickson of New Mexico (337.20). Senior Ava Jackman ranks fifth in the 1-meter event with a score of 296.03. Jones leads the conference on the 3-meter board with a season-high score of 333.68 with Jen Ferguson of TCU in second (320.93) and Jackman in third (318.08).

Watson leads the conference in 1-meter and 3-meter diving with respective scores of 371.40 and 402.98.

Both the men and women divers from BYU have not competed on the 5-meter platform this season, thus they are unranked in the MWC for that event.

The Cougar women rank first in the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay and rank second in the 800 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay.

The Cougar men rank third in the 200 free relay, fifth in the 400 free relay, fifth in the 800 free relay, fourth in the 200 medley relay and sixth in the 400 medley relay.

Live stats will be available starting Wednesday by clicking HERE. Check back to www.byucougars.com/swimming_diving/ for daily updates of the MWC Championships.