BYU Men and Women Capture Inaugural Mountain West Conference Championships

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Leading from beginning to end, both the BYU men's and women's swimming and diving teams cruised to conference titles Saturday in the final day of the inaugural Mountain West Conference Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.

After four days of competition, the BYU men posted a total score of 818 points to runner-up UNLV's 687. Air Force came in third, Wyoming in fourth and Utah finished fifth. On the women's side, BYU won with a total of 715.50 to UNLV's 667.50 points. Colorado State took third, followed by Wyoming, Utah, San Diego State, New Mexico and Air Force.

BYU dominated from the first day of races, and ended up pulling in nine total conference championships and five NCAA-provisionally qualifying times. Junior All-American Arunas Savickas led the men's effort with two individual conference titles (100 and 200 back), one relay win (800 free relay) and a runner-up finish in the 500 free, which also broke his own school record. On the women's side, senior diver Rachelle Smith Kunkel swept both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards to win her first conference championships. Cougar freshman Amanda Grant won her first collegiate meet ever with her conference crown in the 100 breast.

BYU also garnered three post-season honors. Kunkel capped off her senior season by being named the Mountain West Conference Female Diver of the Year, while teammate Devan Porter, also a senior, received Male Diver of the Year honors for his win on the 3-meter board. BYU diving coach Keith Russell was named the conference's Diving Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career and for the third consecutive season.

The last time a BYU swimming and diving team claimed a conference championship was in 1996, when the men took the title. The women last won in 1995. It is the fourth conference title for the men and fifth for the women under coaches Tim Powers and Stan Crump.

"This was truly a team effort," said BYU men's coach Tim Powers. "We've broken a few records and I'm very pleased with how everyone did. This is really quite an accomplishment to lose 17 guys in one year like we did and came back the next year and win the conference championship."

At this point, it is uncertain which athletes will travel to the NCAA Championships in March. Swimmers with provisionally-qualifying times may go, while the divers will have the chance to qualify at the regional NCAA Zone E Diving meet the second week in March.