Gunn Wins 200 IM to Lead Falcons at MWC Championships
Feb. 26, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Paced by a championship performance from Benjamin Gunn (So., Gainesville, Ga.), the Air Force men's swimming and diving team sits in second place in the team standings after two days of competition at the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championships, being held in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Falcons currently have 243 points, trailing first-place UNLV, which sits atop the team leaderboard with 295 points. Meanwhile, the Air Force women are in ninth place with 46 points, while BYU leads the women's competition.
Gunn claimed the Falcons' first conference title of the year, winning the 200 IM with an NCAA `B' standard mark of 1:47.52. His time bested the previous school record, set by two-time MWC champion Paul Parmenter, by more than a second. Gunn, who had already broken the Air Force record earlier in the day with a time of 1:48.36, shaved nearly four seconds off his previous best mark in the event, recorded back in November at the Nike Cup.
Meanwhile, two other Falcons put forth strong showings in the men's 200 IM. Junior Chris Morin (Crown Point, Ind.) won the consolation final of the event with a personal-best mark of 1:50.32, which now ranks eighth in the Air Force record books. Senior captain Nick Dixon (Canton, Mich.) also posted a personal best time of 1:51.35 to finish fourth in the consolation final (12th overall).
In the men's 500 freestyle, junior Sean O'Keefe (Lake Oswego, Ore.) recorded his best-ever finish at the Mountain West Championships, placing third with a personal-best time of 4:24.80. While O'Keefe retained his spot as third-fastest in the Air Force record books, sophomore Tom Hansen (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) moved into fourth-place all-time at the Academy with his preliminary mark of 4:26.70 before finishing fifth in the event.
The Falcons had two other swimmers compete in the consolation finals of the 500 free. Freshman Corydon Butler (Williamsburg, Va.) finished 13th overall with a time of 4:30.50, which ranks seventh in the Air Force record books. Meanwhile, sophomore Eric Robinson (Lakewood, Colo.) placed 15th overall after notching a career-best mark of 4:31.87 in the preliminaries, just missing an entry into the Air Force top 10 list.
In the men's 50 freestyle, sophomore Robert Dawson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was the top performer, finishing second in the consolation finals (10th overall). Already tied for 10th in the Air Force record books in the event, Dawson's time of 20.44 in the preliminaries moved him into sixth place all-time at the Academy.
For the divers, junior Kyle Van Valkenburg (Tucson, Ariz.) was the top performer in the men's 3-meter springboard event, finishing fifth with a season-best mark of 316.60. Meanwhile, the Falcons took the top three spots in the consolation finals, led by David Arlington (Jr., Eagle River, Alaska). Arlington improved his preliminary score by more than 70 points, finishing with a season-best 319.00. He was followed by Jesse Bicknell (Fr., Westtown, N.Y.) and Randy Rogers (Sr., Fort Worth, Texas), who finished 10th and 11th overall, respectively.
The men concluded the day with a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, with the team of Morin, Dawson, Kai Yamashiro (Sr., Kaneohe, Hawaii) and Justin Day (Sr., Peyton, Colo.) clocking a season-best mark of 1:21.22.
Highlighting the women's performance on day two of the championships was senior captain Jane Hwang (Irvine, Calif.). In the morning's prelims of the 200 IM, Hwang shattered her own school record by nearly two seconds, clocking in with a time of 2:04.15 to reach the consolation finals. Unfortunately, Hwang earned a disqualification in the evening event.
Two more entries into the Academy record books were made in the women's 50 freestyle, with senior Laken Stogner (Bowdon, Ga.) and freshman Cassie Fletcher (Durham, N.C.) each making entries into the top 10. Stogner, who finished 15th overall in the event, registered a personal-best mark of 23.68, ranking fifth in the Academy record books. Meanwhile, Fletcher's preliminary time of 24.11 ranks 10th in Air Force history.
Also on Thursday, freshman Lauren Shetley (St. Louis, Mo.) led the Falcons in the women's 1-meter diving event, registering a mark of 216.75 to finish 19th overall.
Day three of competition at the MWC Championships commences tomorrow, Feb. 27, with 13 more events, starting with the preliminary rounds of the women's and men's 400 IM at 10:00 a.m. (CT). Meanwhile, finals competition is slated to begin at 6:00 p.m.