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Thursday, March 23, 2023

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San Diego State swim and dive program celebrates second straight league title. (SDSU) San Diego State swim and dive program celebrates second straight league title. (SDSU)

Mountain West Champions!

The Women's Swimming and Diving program secured their league title for the second time in a row.
By GoAztecs

HOUSTON – The San Diego State swim and dive program secured its second straight league title and fourth in the last five years after another series of dominating performances on Saturday at the 2023 Mountain West Championships inside the CRWC Natatorium on the University of Houston campus.

The Aztecs claimed five additional gold medals on the final day of the meet, finishing with a conference record 1,638 team points to shatter its previous standard of 1,541.50 points set last season. Successfully defending its crown, head coach Mike Shrader's program has now captured seven MW championships since the 2010-11 campaign.

For the week, SDSU won 14 event titles to seize control of the team standings, easily outpacing runner-up UNLV (1,103 pts), while Wyoming (937 pts) overtook Nevada (930 pts) for third place on Saturday, with Fresno State (866 pts) rounding out the top five.

The Scarlet and Black boasted two individual honorees following the championships, as Wilma Johansson garnered MW Swimmer of the Meet accolades, while Moa Bergdahl was tabbed MW Freshman of the Meet.

The afternoon finals began with the 1,650 freestyle, and the Aztecs' lone entrant in the race, Paige Mitchell, placed 11th with a career-fast swim of 16:58.13.

SDSU sported three swimmers in the 200 backstroke finals where Alex Roberts set a school and conference record with a time of 1:52.86, while Mai McKenna followed in second, duplicating the feat of her teammate by notching an NCAA B Cut time after touching the wall at 1:56.32. In addition, Riley Tapley completed the race in fourth with a 1:58.10 to establish a season best.

Earlier in the preliminaries, McKenna swam a 1:56.09, which ranks fourth on the school's career list.

The Aztecs displayed a nearly identical showing in the 100 freestyle, grabbing three of the top four spots in the event. Meredith Smithbaker took home the gold with an NCAA B Cut time of 49.05, edging teammate Jeannette King (49.57), while Lyndsey Wehr swam a season-fast 49.86 to finish a close fourth.

Additionally, Avery Turney won the "B" final and placed ninth overall with a season-best 50.06, while Evonne Stehr captured the "C" final and finished 17th overall with a career-fast 50.63 clocking.

In the preliminary heats, Smithbaker completed a collegiate-best swim of 48.84, which ranks third on the program's all-time charts, while King registered a season-best time of 49.41.

SDSU continued its dominance in the 200 breaststroke finals where Christiana Williams emerged triumphant after completing the race in 2:08.86, which ranks second on the Aztecs' career list and fifth in conference history, while Kristina Murphy followed in second with a career-fast time of her own at 2:09.28, with both results marking NCAA "B" Cut standards. Bergdahl also accomplished that feat with a season-best 2:12.96, climbing into seventh place as a result.

In the 200 butterfly, Johansson collected a silver medal with a school-record 1:57.17, improving on her NCAA "B" Cut time, while Emily Gebhardt eclipsed her career best with a swim of 1:59.34 to finish seventh.

All the while, the Aztecs' advanced two student-athletes to the finals of the platform diving competition where Valentina Lopez Arevalo shattered a school record with 350.15 points, which ranks second in conference history. The SDSU sophomore totaled 75.60 points in the 305C from 10 meters in her third dive of the finals, which featured score of 10 from one of the judges.

In addition, Ximena Lechuga Gonzalez placed fourth with a NCAA Zone qualifying score of 270.25 points, which marked a season high.

Elsewhere, Taylor Konopacke finished third in the consolation finals and 11th overall with an NCAA Zone qualifying mark of her own at 227.05 points, surpassing her season best as well, while Summer Westmoreland (184.45 pts) placed seventh in the round and 15th overall.

With the post-conference celebration awaiting, San Diego State fittingly captured the 400 freestyle relay, as the foursome of Turney, Stehr, Murphy and Wehr combined for a 3:20.21 clocking, giving the Scarlet and Black a sweep in all four relay races during the week (200 medley, 400 medley, 800 freestyle).
2023 Mountain West Championships
Houston, Texas
Final Team Standings 
1. San Diego State (1,638 pts)
2. UNLV (1,103 pts)
3. Wyoming (937 pts)
4. Nevada (930 pts)
5. Fresno State (866 pts)
6. Air Force (825.5 pts)
7. Colorado State (790 pts)
8. San José State (632.5 pts)
9. New Mexico (316 pts)