Senior Rachelle Smith Kunkel and junior Jennifer Tasker will represent the BYU women's swimming and diving team this weekend at the 2000 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.
An Up-and-Coming Swimmer
A breaststroker, junior Jennifer Tasker took the field by surprise last year, finishing a team-best fourth in the 100 breast at the 1999 WAC Championships. Tasker came into the 2000 season with more experience, and despite battling injury for the first part of the season, emerged as one of the team's premiere swimmers. Tasker broke Molly Lauber's pool record in the 100 breast against New Mexico in January, and was a member of the BYU record-breaking 200 medley relay team at the Mountain West Conference Championships last month. At the conference meet, Tasker false-started in the 100 breast preliminaries but bounced back to post an NCAA-qualifying time trial that night.
Tasker travels to nationals for the first time in her career and will compete in the 100 breast, slated for Friday. Tasker holds the team- and conference-best times this season in the event at 1:04.41.
Diving With an Agenda
Rachelle Smith Kunkel, a senior diver, opened eyes on a national level following a breakout junior season and returned this season seasoned and more determined than ever. Kunkel was the lone Cougar representative at last year's NCAA Championships, her first, where she finished 15th on the 1M and 23rd on the 3M boards to garner second-team All-America status. Kunkel then went on to capture the 1M title at the 1999 Summer Nationals.
Kunkel has been nothing short of dominant in the 2000 season, winning at least one event in every dual meet. Kunkel received Mountain West Conference Female Diver of the Week honors five times, more than any other swimmer or diver, male or female, in the conference. She swept both 1M and 3M boards at the conference championships last month to earn Female Diver of the Year honors, and followed up that performance with a repeat sweep at the NCAA Zone E Qualifying Meet last weekend in Federal Way, Wash. In the meet, Kunkel broke BYU national champion Vanessa Thelin's record score on the 1M (10 dives). Kunkel is a favorite for the finals in each event, and could potentially capture a national title in her stronger event, the 1M board. Her best scores this season were set in the NCAA-qualifying meet, a 454.40 on the 1M (10 dives) and a 528.90 on the 3M board (11 dives). Kunkel competes on the 1M on Thursday and the 3M on Friday.
"We're looking forward to a good meet. Rachelle certainly has a legitimate chance at a national championship, and Jennifer also has the chance to do very well. If she can get it going in the morning and swim a good prelim time, I think she has a very good chance at making the finals." - Coach Stan Crump
Results from the 100 breast and 1M events will be available on Thursday, with the 3M results available Friday. Scores and placements will be posted as they are available on BYU's official athletics web page, www.byucougars.com.