More Air Force Records Fall on Final Day of MWC Championships
Feb. 28, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Finishing with one individual champion and four new school records on Saturday, the Air Force men's and women's swimming and diving teams concluded competition at the 2009 Mountain West Conference Championships, being held in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Air Force men finished second overall, their best showing since 2004, with 613 points, while the Falcon women came in ninth place with 128 points. UNLV captured the men's team title for the fifth-straight season, while BYU won the women's championship for the eighth time in the conference's 10-year history.
Junior Kyle Van Valkenburg (Tucson, Ariz.) brought home the sole individual championship for the Falcons on Saturday, defending his title in the men's platform dive. Van Valkenburg saved his strongest performance for the finals, recording a career-best mark of 347.20, improving on his preliminary score by nearly 70 points.
The Falcons have now won four consecutive conference titles in the men's platform dive; prior to Van Valkenburg's win last season, 2007 graduate Brady Lindberg won the platform in both 2006 and 2007. Meanwhile, the Falcons also had three other scorers in the event, with David Arlington (Jr., Eagle River, Alaska), Jesse Bicknell (Fr., Westtown, N.Y.) and Randy Rogers (Sr., Fort Worth, Texas), placing eighth, 10th and 12th, respectively.
One of Air Force's new school records came in the men's 400 freestyle relay, where Chris Morin (Jr., Crown Point, Ind.), Sean O'Keefe (Jr., Lake Oswego, Ore.), Benjamin Gunn (So., Gainesville, Ga.) and Robert Dawson (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted a time of 2:58.63, finishing third. During this week's championships, the Falcons have rewritten the school standards in four of five relays.
Meanwhile, Gunn also notched his third individual school record in as many events this week, clocking an NCAA `B' standard time of 1:46.40 in the finals of the 200 butterfly to finish fourth in the event. He was joined by two other Falcons in the event who posted Academy top-10 times. Senior captain Nick Dixon (Canton, Mich.) registered a preliminary mark of 1:48.81 before placing seventh, while Eric Robinson (So., Lakewood, Colo.) recorded a time of 1:49.51 in the prelims before going on to win the consolation finals. Dixon's preliminary time ranks sixth in the Air Force record books, while Robinson moved into eighth place on the list with his morning swim.
In the men's 200 backstroke, senior Kai Yamashiro (Kaneohe, Hawaii) recorded a career-best mark of 1:46.44 to take second place in the event, while sophomore Tom Hansen (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) placed sixth following a personal-best time of 1:48.49 in the preliminaries. Yamashiro's mark now ranks second in the Air Force record books, while Hansen moves into fifth-place with his performance.
In the 200 breaststroke, three Falcons earned points for the team, led by Justin Day (Sr., Peyton, Colo.) and Josh Hammervold (So., Sugar Land, Texas), who placed sixth and eighth, respectively, while Greg Edmonds (Jr., Fairfax Station, Va.) placed 13th overall. All three posted Academy top-10 times during their morning swims--Day's preliminary mark of 2:02.46 ranks third all-time in Air Force history, Hammervold ranks sixth with his time of 2:02.84 and Edmonds moves into seventh place with his mark of 2:03.75.
O'Keefe was Air Force's top finisher in the men's 1650 freestyle, placing fifth in the event with a personal-best mark of 15:24.41. O'Keefe retained his spot as the third-fastest in Air Force history, while freshman Corydon Butler (Williamsburg, Va.) moved into the Falcons' top 10 with a mark of 15:34.14, placing seventh. Also scoring for Air Force in the event was Hansen, who finished 14th with a time of 15:49.18.
Dawson was the Falcons' top performer in the men's 100 freestyle, placing 13th overall. His preliminary mark of 45.56 is good for 10th place in the Air Force record books.
The Air Force women also set a pair of school records on Saturday. The Falcons notched a new school record in the 400 freestyle relay, as senior Laken Stogner (Bowdon, Ga.), Cassie Fletcher (Fr., Durham, N.C.), Alison Ceranski (Fr., Marinette, Wis.) and Jane Hwang (Sr., Irvine, Calif.) posted a mark of 3:27.30 to finish seventh in the race.
In addition, Hwang, who was honored with the conference's Senior Recognition Award, also set a new individual school record for the third-straight day. On Saturday, her record-setting performance came in the 100 freestyle, where she previously ranked second in the Air Force record books. Hwang notched a time of 51.09 in the morning's preliminaries to move into the Falcons' top spot, before placing eighth in the evening's finals.
Hwang will end her career with four school records (100 free/200 free/200 IM/400 free relay), while ranking among the Academy's top 10 in three other individual events (200 fly/100 breast/200 breast).
Also on the final day of competition, Stogner moved into sixth place on the Academy's all-time list in the 100 free, clocking in at 52.10 in the prelims to finish 20th overall in the event. Three other Falcons entered the record books in the 200 butterfly, led by Becky Gleason (Jr., Ballwin, Mo.) who took over the sixth spot on the all-time list with a preliminary mark of 2:06.63. Meanwhile, freshmen Katharine Ernst (Folsom, Calif.), with a prelim time of 2:07.68, and Elvira Chiccarelli (Panama City Beach, Fla.), with a preliminary mark of 2:08.14, now rank seventh and ninth, respectively, at the Academy.