Kirsty Ferrell and the Cougars are set for their first MWC action of the year here in Provo. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The BYU swimming and diving teams get to jump into the Richards Building Pool for their first competitive meet at home this year as they take on UNLV Friday at 6 p.m.
"UNLV is tough," commented BYU women's coach Stan Crump. "They are the best team we have gone up against this year for sure."
The Rebels had their last meet cancelled due to the wildfires in Southern California as they were scheduled to face off with San Diego State University. Previous to that though the UNLV men upset the then No. 21 Arizona State 158.5-141.5. After that surprising victory the Rebel's men's team has been ranked No. 21 in the CSCAA coaches' poll.
"It always comes down to the wire with UNLV," BYU men's coach Tim Powers said. "The intensity level of every race with UNLV is something that our guys look forward to."
In the Mountain West Conference Preseason coaches' poll the UNLV women were picked to finish second and the Rebel men were predicted to finish tops in the conference. For the Cougars the exact opposite was true in the preseason picks, the BYU women were chosen to finish the season in first and the men to finish second behind the Rebels. This early season dual meet pins the projected top two programs in the conference against each other.
The divers will also be participating in the BYU Diving Invitational this weekend. The invitational will include UNLV and Utah along with the Cougars. On Friday there will be two sessions, 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., which will feature the two springboard events and then on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. the invitational will finish with the platform.
"One of our main goals heading into this weekend is that we are hoping to see a couple more of our divers score high enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament later this season," BYU diving coach Keith Russell said.
Both the BYU men and women are coming off successful invitational meets. The women went undefeated in the Phill Hansel Duals as they matched up head-to-head with four other schools two weeks ago in Houston. Then to follow that up, the Cougar men swam to an impressive 7-1 record at the Lincoln Shootout in Irvine, Calif. just last weekend.
Seniors Neal Hamilton, Jorge Azevedo and Travis Price will lead the Cougars into the men's first MWC dual of the year. While on the women's side they not only hope for consistent swimming from their upper classmen but also from its slew of talented freshman like Aleesha Miller in the sprints and Rachel Grant in the IM.
On the other hand, the UNLV men will look to senior Richard Hortness who swept the two freestyle sprint events in their opening meet against ASU. Hortness was also named the MWC Swimmer of the Week for his accolades.