The CSU swimming and diving team will head to Colorado Springs on
Saturday to compete against Air Force in its first Mountain West Conference dual meet.
In preseason polls, CSU was ranked second in the MWC while Air Force barely beat out Wyoming for the bottom spot in the pool at No. 7. The Rams’ domination of Air Force was evident last year when they out-swam the Falcons and won by a score of 192-108.
But even with these advantages pointing in CSU’s favor, the Rams know they still have to work hard to get the job done.
“Air Force is nowhere near as good as Notre Dame, but we still have to respect their potential,” head coach John Mattos said. “They have beaten us before and we are going to have to battle to win.”
The Falcons swam in one tournament earlier this year, the Sun Belt Classic in New Mexico. Against four other teams, they beat New Mexico State 131-112, Denver 173-70, North Texas 183-58 and Western Kentucky 135-108. The victories gave head coach Casey Converse his 200th career victory.
It is a milestone that is rarely reached by coaches, but going into his 23rd year coaching CSU, Mattos has compiled 20 winning seasons and passed the 150-win mark in 2000. If the Rams keep swimming like they have so far this year, he too will have 200 wins under his belt.
CSU will once again depend on its strong relays to earn some key points. In the 400-yard freestyle relay, both teams have had a lot of success. Air Force won the event in its last meet with a time of 3:40.27, and CSU won the event against Notre Dame with a time of 3:35.56.
Mattos is extremely proud of the strength of the relays so far this season.
“Our relays are going to be tough to beat. We have a lot of depth and the 200 medley and 400 freestyle are really strong,” Mattos said.
CSU will depend on two of its strong veterans to lead the way against the Falcons: junior swimmer Kristen Schneider and junior diver Lori Vigil, who last week were named Mountain West women’s swimmer and diver of the week after spectacular performances at the Early Bird Invitational.
Schneider won the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard IM, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke and contributed to victories in the 200-yard IM, 400-yard medley and 800-freestyle relays. Vigil placed third in the three-meter diving event with a score of 429.65. Her high score qualifies her for the NCAA Diving Regional Tournament later this season.
Schneider is not only off to an amazing start this year, but also won events versus Air Force last year. Taking first in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly, she knows what it takes to beat the Falcons.
“This team is not near the caliber that Notre Dame was, but we have to go in there and swim hard,” Schneider said. “We can’t underestimate them.”
Unlike last week’s meet against Notre Dame, the divers will be competing against Air Force. Last year Falcon diver Sarah Law took first in the one-meter diving event and helped contribute to the Air Force diving score that beat CSU’s. This year, the Ram divers are much more experienced and are ready to for a rematch.
“We have been training hard and we should be prepared for Air Force,” sophomore Meghan Trucco said. “We have not gotten as much platform practice as we have hoped, but we have spent a lot of time on the spring boards.”
The meet will be in the same 16-event format as it was against Notre Dame. This will be in CSU’s advantage because it will feature its two strongest relays: the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle.
Air Force will first play host North Dakota on Friday night before taking on the Rams at 1 p.m.
Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin