Palmer and Li Win Gold at Conference Swimming and Diving Championships
The University of Nevada swimming and diving team added two titles Thursday, remaining in third place at the 2015 Mountain West Championships at the Palo Alto College Aquatics Center. The Wolf Pack has accumulated 216 points at the midway point of the meet, leading fourth-place UNLV by 76 points.
Junior Krysta Palmer collected her second gold medal of the meet, winning the 3-meter springboard dive. In the pool, junior Yawen Li won broke her own school record in the 200-yard IM to secure her second career MW title. Nevada also received third-place finishes from freshman Josefin Eriksen in the 500-yard freestyle and sophomore Teresa Baerens in the 200 IM.
Boise State (275), San Diego State (268) and Nevada (216), who were each predicted to place in the top three in the pre-meet coaches' poll, have separated from the stout field as the only teams boasting at least 200 points. The Wolf Pack has set four new program records through two days at the event.
“Top to bottom, I would say that this is the best day we've had at the Mountain West Championships in the three years I've been here,” said head coach Abby Steketee. “We weren't perfect, but the girls were tenacious and got right back up after any mistakes.”
Li, an All-MW selection who advanced to the 2014 NCAA Championships in three events, led the Wolf Pack's efforts Thursday. The Wuhan, China, native touched the wall in 1:57.59 in the 200 IM, breaking her own program record of 1:59.16 set last season. Li outreached Boise State's Samantha Wicks (1:58.06) at the wall, placing first by just under a tenth of a second with an NCAA B cut time.
At the 2014 MW Championship, Li won her first career conference title with a victory in the 200-yard breaststroke. Li competed at the NCAA Championships in the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 breaststroke last season.
Palmer, a Carson City native, remained unbeaten on the season, winning her second title of the meet in the 3-meter springboard. The 2014 All-MW selection scored a 359.40 in the event, which was just one-tenth of a point away from matching a meet record. Palmer won the 1-meter springboard on Wednesday with 336.30 points, which set a MW Championship record.
Palmer boasts a perfect record on the season, winning all 10 diving events she has competed in. Palmer will look to remain unbeaten on the season in Saturday's platform dive. She posted the Mountain West's top platform score in the regular season. In four straight seasons, a Wolf Pack student-athlete has been named conference diver of the year under diving coach Jian Li You.
Thursday's finals action began with the 200-yard freestyle relay, where the Wolf Pack placed ninth. Freshman Emma Payne, freshman Jaeger Turner, Li and senior Michelle Forman posted Nevada's best time of the season (1:33.56) in the event.
Freshman Wendy Espinda-Esquivel also added points for Nevada in the 3-meter springboard, placing seventh with a career-best score of 250.75.
In the third event of the day, freshman Josefin Eriksen placed third in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:47.55 – an NCAA B cut time. The Sweden native's time set a personal best, broke Nevada's season best time by over a second and was just over two seconds from matching a program record. Sophomore Sita Kusserow contributed to Nevada's team score, placing fifth in the 500 freestyle 4:50.32. Sophomore Riley Hilbrandt (4:56.69) and senior Michelle Forman (4:58.07) placed 14th and 16th, respectively.
Li capped Nevada's efforts in the 200 IM, while sophomore Teresa Baerens made the podium with a third place finish. The Ottobrun, Germany, touched the wall in 1:59.16 as Nevada placed two swimmers in the top three in the event. Sophomore Arantxa Medina-Alegria placed fifth (2:00.31).
The Wolf Pack and the Mountain West will return to the pool Friday for day three, competing in the 400-yard IM, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke and the 400-yard medley relay. The preliminary rounds will begin at 9 a.m. PT, while the finals will begin at 4:30 p.m. Live streaming and statistics are available at the MW Championship meet central webpage.
2015 MW Championship Team Standings (through day two)