BYU Women Clinch Share in MWC Regular-Season Title

Tawni Jones earned a 304.50 on the 1-meter board, posting a new Corbett Pool record. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

LARAMIE -- After a close meet for both the men and women, the No. 27 BYU women’s swim and dive team (10-0, 7-0 MWC) clinched a share in the regular season Mountain West Conference title after defeating the Cowgirls of Wyoming (11-1, 4-1 MWC) 185-115 Saturday. The BYU men’s (2-4, 0-4 MWC) late surge of points wasn’t enough to take the Wyoming men (6-3, 2-2 MWC), losing to the Cowboys 178-122.

“We came on strong toward the end of the meet on the guy’s side,” BYU head coach Tim Powers said. “We’re spread kind of thin and we’re trying to cover events, but we swam real hard and we were right there with them. On the girls side we did a great job. We swam hard and earned great times in our events.”

Five different Corbett Pool records were broken by BYU’s own Natasha Menezes, Candice Smith, Rachel Grant, Tawni Jones. The women’s 400 free relay team also broke the pool record.

The men were led by freshman Ryan Bills who won the 100 fly and 200 IM while the women were led by Rachel Grant winning the 200 fly, 100 fly and 200 IM.

Michelle Menezes won the first event for the Cougars in the 1000 free with a time of 10:39.78 while John Kendrick won the event for the men with a time of 9:56.28.

Natasha Menezes then won the 200 free with a time of 1:52.56, breaking the Corbett Pool record set in 2008 by Aimee Stinson of Wyoming.

Sophomore Candice Smith won the 100 back for the Cougars with a time of 56.88 while Sara Jayne Christiansen Baldwin out-touched Lesley Young of Wyoming with a time of 1:04.73.

Rachel Grant found her first win of the afternoon in the 200 fly, finishing five seconds ahead of second place, clocking in at 2:03.37, setting a pool record in the event, going one whole second faster than Zsu Jakabos of UNLV, set on Jan. 17, 2009 (2:04.39).

Brandon Watson won the 1-meter diving event with a final score of 339.83 while Ava Jackman placed second on the 3-meter board with a score of 303.00.

Baldwin found her second win of the meet in the 100 free, finishing .11 seconds ahead of Cowgirl Cassie Stelow, touching the wall with a time of 52.24.

Smith again won the 200 back with a time of 2:04.25, out-touching teammate Erin Pabst in the event. Pabst finished with a 2:04.76. Both times were good enough to break the old pool record, set on Jan. 17, 2009 by Ana G. Dangalakova of UNLV.

N. Menezes earned her second win of the afternoon in the 500 free, finishing three seconds ahead of her sister, M. Menezes with respective times of 5:13.58 and 5:17.40.

Grant continued winning suit with the 100 fly with a time of 56.77, her second win of the day. And soon found her third win of the day in the 200 IM, finishing with a time of 2:05.88.

Freshman Ryan Bills found his first win late in the afternoon in the 100 fly, touching the wall with a time of 52.53.

“Ryan Bills won two events and that was very impressive,” said Powers. “He was kind of struggling at the beginning of the season, but is really starting to do well and take off.”

Tawni Jones set a new Corbett Pool diving record on the 1-meter board with a score of 304.50. Stephanie Ortiz of Wyoming achieved the old record in 2008, tallying a score of 300.22 in the event.

In the highly contested men’s 3-meter event, Watson finished first with a final score of 369.00. Bills won his second event of the afternoon in the 200 IM, finishing with a time of 1:56.32, followed closely by freshman teammate Hayden Palmer in second with a time of 1:57.30.

The BYU women finished off the afternoon with a win in the 400 free relay, setting a new Corbett Pool record with a time of 3:28.44. Wyoming came in second, also earning a time good enough to break the old pool record. Kirsty Ferrell led off for the Cougars, followed by N. Menezes, Smith and anchored by Aleesha Miller. The old record was a 3:31.05, set by UNLV in 2007.

The Cougars will take a week rest and then they will back at the Richards Building Pool Thursday Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. to take on in-state rival Utah for the final home dual meet of the season.

“Utah will be a great meet, it always is,” said Powers. “We look forward to it every year. It’s going to be a packed house as it always is and we know that they’ll come ready to swim they’re best times against us.”

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