By Quinn Horner
HOUSTON, Texas -- The Air Force men’s swimming and diving team placed fourth at the 2018 Western Athletic Conference Championships, Saturday, Feb. 24, at the CRWC Natatorium on the campus of the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. Wyoming won the team title with 851 points, followed by UNLV (780), Grand Canyon University (630), Air Force (447), CSU Bakersfield (376) and Seattle (246).
The night opened with the final heat of the 1650 free in which two cadets represented and scored for the Falcons. Freshman Brady Moll swam for ninth in a time of 16:05.13 and freshman Vincent Vivadelli placed 11th with a 16:05.13.
In the 200 back final, senior Joey Gebhart swam for the bronze medal in 1:45.00, setting a new school record and earning an NCAA “B” qualifying time in the event. Close behind was sophomore Cole McAnany for a fifth-place finish in 1:46.81. McAnany’s prelim time of 1:46.22 put him as the fifth fastest Falcon in school history and both of his swims qualified for NCAA “B” cuts. Freshman Ben Settle swam exhibition for the Falcons in this event and was half a second off his personal best in 1:49.42.
Two freshmen represented Air Force in the 100 freestyle. Daniel Keith finished 22nd with at time of 46.83. Jack Ayres, who bettered his time from prelims, swam his race in 45.75 and was a tenth away from a personal best.
There was one Falcon in all three heats of the 200 breaststroke final. Bronze went to sophomore Zach Nelson in 1:58.30, earning him the fourth-fastest time in school history and an NCAA “B” cut. Sophomore Andrew Weiss took 12th with a 2:03.14, while freshman Brendan Richichi swam for a personal best time of 2:02.78.
Setting a new school record in the 200 butterfly and achieving his third NCAA “B” qualifying time of the meet, freshman Peter Lochmaier earned bronze with a time of 1:45.29. Swimming in the consolation final, after already swimming the mile earlier in the session, freshman Brady Moll placed 15th in 1:55.06.
The Falcons wrapped up WAC competition with the 400 free relay, as the team of McAnany, Gebhart, Lochmaier, and Keith placed sixth (3:01.66).
“I am incredibly proud of our guys,” said head coach Rob Clayton. “I don’t know how many coaches approached me about how impressed they were with the resiliency and heart displayed within our team. For us to set two school records today and achieve NCAA cuts, it shows what an incredible team we have. The guys really fought hard this weekend, never gave up, and laid it all out there in the pool. Their tenacity and grit is what we expect from cadets and future officers and I couldn’t be more proud.”