By Quinn Horner
HOUSTON, Texas -- More NCAA “B” cuts and three divers in the platform finals highlighted day three at Western Athletic Conference Championships, Friday, Feb. 23, at the CRWC Natatorium on the campus of the University of Houston in Houston, Texas.
Wyoming is in first place heading into the final day with 615 points. UNLV is second (550), Grand Canyon is third (450), Air Force if fourth (337), CSU Bakersfield is fifth (260) and Seattle is sixth (157).
The Falcons opened the night swimming the 400 IM with three cadets returning to swim in the evening finals. Freshman Peter Lochmaier captured bronze, and an NCAA B cut, and the fifth fastest time in school history with 3:52.21. In the consolation final, freshman Brady Moll was 11th in 4:01.08 and freshman Vincent Vivadelli was 12th in 4:03.55.
The sole scoring Falcon in the 100 fly was senior Joey Gebhart, who in prelims, swam for a personal best and the ninth fastest time in school history (48.55). In the finals, Gebhart placed eighth in 49.32. Swimming exhibition for Air Force, freshman Jack Ayres swam for his personal best time in 49.33.
Representing the Academy in the 200 freestyle, freshman Daniel Keith improved on his prelim swim to earn 12th place overall with a time of 1:41.61.
In the 100 breast stroke, sophomore Zack Nelson’s prelim swim of 54.87 earned an NCAA “B” cut and is the sixth fastest in school history. In the finals, Nelson was eighth overall in 55.54. Competing in the consolation final, sophomore Andrew Weiss was 12th in 55.48, eight-tenths shy of his personal best. He maintained his ninth place spot on the Academy Top 10 best swims from his performance earlier this year. In an exhibition swim, freshman Brendan Richichi earned an NCAA “B” cut, and the seventh fastest time in school history, with a 55.26.
Two Falcons swimming the 100 back earned spots in finals with Gebhart swimming in his second final of the night. Sophomore Cole McAnany won silver in 47.73. His prelim time of 47.41 solidified his spot as the second fastest 100 back-stroker in school history, earning an NCAA “B” qualifying time. Gebhart finished sixth in 49.24. Keith, also on his second event of the night, took 20th in 52.72. Freshman Ben Settle was an exhibition swimmer in the event and earned his personal best swim in 50.79.
Three of the four Falcon divers were represented in the final flight of the platform event. Senior Nicholas Piontek was third overall with a score of 305.50, senior Erich Drollinger was seventh (253.05), and freshman Cole Armagost was eighth (232.85). Diving earlier in the second flight, sophomore Kevin Lecours finished 12th overall (213.60).
An early departure in the 400 medley relay exchange caused the Air Force team of McAnany, Nelson, Lochmaier, and Gebhart to be disqualified in the event.
“I was very proud of the guys tonight,” said Coach Rob Clayton. “We had great performances in the pool, led by second-place finishers, Cole McAnany, who was just shy of a new school record in the 100 back, and Peter Lochmaier in the 400 IM, a tremendous swim for a freshman who is having an outstanding meet. Clearly the event of the night was on the tower where we had three guys diving platform in the top eight. They did an excellent job representing our team and finished the diving competition well. These guys are resilient and battling hard. With the leadership demonstrated by senior Joey Gebhart in and out of the pool, everyone is continuing to have some fantastic swims. We’re excited for tomorrow’s final day.”
The fourth and final day of the WAC Championship concludes on Saturday with the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, and the 400 free relay. Prelims start at 10:30 am and finals at 6 pm. For more information, live stats and live stream, please visit www.WACSports.com.