Frogs in First-Place After Day One of Conference USA Meet
Feb. 26, 2004
Houston, Texas - Day one of the Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships and Invite treated the Horned Frogs well, with the men ahead of second-place East Carolina by 83 points while the women lead second-in-line Houston by 59 points. Several first-place finishes brought the Frogs to a comfortable lead, including the vital first two relays.
The men and women jumped into the lead immediately this afternoon, grabbing both the 200-yard free relays. The women - senior Erin Irons, junior Aimee Moreau, sophomore Leann Cathcart, and freshman Erica Tate - smashed the school record set at the last C-USA meet, along with the meet record, in their 1:33.78 win, beating second-place East Carolina by over a second and a half. The men - freshman Yousif Del Valle and seniors Collin Sandifer, Mitch Loper, and David Tietze, went neck-and-neck with East Carolina for each leg until the Tietze in the final lap pulled ahead for the photo finish, winning in 1:22.39, one-tenth of a second ahead of the Pirates.
The Horned Frog momentum continued into the second event, two heats of the women's 500 free. Tara Sullivan led the B-heat to a 5:00.96 finish, a five-second improvement on her preliminary time. The A-heat had both freshmen Karen Sandifer and Keleigh Wentworth racing; Sandifer finished fifth, scoring valuable points for the Frogs, while Wentworth kicked it in the end to finish only three one-hundredths of a second behind Cincinnati's Ann Degenstein's pool record 4:56.51. The men's 500 free had Craig Chapman and Andy Donovan go one-three, Chapman (4:28.28) finishing nine seconds before the closest competition, Matt Lees of Louisville.
The 500 put the TCU women ahead by only two points to a young Tulane team (80-78). The men claimed a more comfortable lead with the 16-point advantage over East Carolina (87-71). The women widened the lead a bit between them and Tulane, as the Frogs pulled out to 109, Tulane at 97, after the 200 IM, with freshman Christi Cannon and senior Liz Proffitt finishing sixth and eighth to bring in double-digit points each. The men may not have medaled in the 200 IM, but three of them did score in the double-digits, helping them to stay ahead with a lead now of nearly 30 points over East Carolina.
A speedy freshman from Tulane shocked the Frogs by beating the previously unbeatable Erin Irons in the 50 free. Linda McEachrane swiped Irons' crown in 23.08 to the Frog senior's 23.37 performance. Cathcart and Tate followed quickly behind Irons for a TCU 2-3-4 punch that wiped out 48 points in the Frogs' favor. The men were also taken by surprise in their own 50 free, as senior David Tietze fell to third-place in a 20.71 performance. Del Valle and Loper placed fifth and seventh, respectively.
Sophomore Kelly Seely came back in the three-meter dive to medal in a 421.20 performance, earning her third-place. Houston largely dominated the event, bringing four divers to the finals. Diving brought Houston to second-place. For the men, sophomore Kelly McCain opened the finals early in the afternoon by winning the first event of the meet, the men's one-meter, for the Frogs, avenging his second-place finish to Louisville senior Sean Wilkerson from last year. Wilkerson, then a junior, had claimed "Diver of the Meet" honors last year and the year before; this year, however, the Cardinal fell to third-place while McCain claimed the honor with his 302.95 score. Senior Chad Hummel finished fourth while fellow senior Stephen Gebren finished sixth.
"For Kelly to get beat his freshman year by Sean Wilkerson and come back and beat him just means he's going to keep getting better," diving coach Wayne Chester commented after the event.
The final events of the night were the women's and men's 400 medley relay. TCU came in second for the women after ran admirable comeback by Irons in the final leg. The men, facing a similar disappointing runner-up finish in 3:19.60 to Cincinnati's 3:19.13, received a break when an official declared the Bearcats disqualified on an early start.
The morning preliminaries showcased Horned Frogs' season bests and personal bests left and right; Irons hit the B-cut standards for the NCAA's in her 50 free prelims.
The Conference USA Championships and Invite resume competition tomorrow (Friday) morning at ten a.m. The team scores and the diving stats can be found below.
Women's Team Scores
Men's Team Scores
Licensed to University of Houston Hy-Tek's Meet Manager 02/26/2004 09:19 PM Conference USA Women's Champs Men's Inv. - 02/26/2004 to 02/28/2004 Results