Feb 262006
Authors: Sean Starr

Despite three top-five finishes from senior Liz Jones, the CSU women's swimming and diving team capped off its season with a disappointing sixth place finish at the 2006 Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships in Oklahoma City.

The team finished the championships with 371.5 points, 33 behind fifth-place Wyoming.

The University of Utah emerged victorious, earning its first MWC championship in swimming and diving with 679.5 total points. The Utes set all-time conference records in the 200-yard medley, freestyle relays and the 100-yard breaststroke.

Jones placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle on Saturday in addition to her second-place time in the 50 and fourth-place finish in the 200. The senior from Laramie, Wyo., was named the 2006 MWC Senior of the Year for her season's outstanding performance.

"It's something very special and coveted by all the kids," said head coach John Mattos about Jones' recognition.

Overall, Mattos described the week in Oklahoma as a real "eye-opener." He added that it was the first time the swimming and diving program had fallen to the "bottom" and he was planning on making some changes for the future.

"We had a really tough time. For some reason, we just couldn't get things rolling," he said.

Although team results fell far from expectations, freshman Lydnsay Cox achieved individual success for the Rams. Cox's second-place time (56.57) in the 200-yard backstroke helped earn her the team's lone all-conference recognition.

Mattos said it was the first time his team only had one All-Conference performer since taking over CSU swimming and diving in 1981.

Junior Brette Winegarner finished the season with a pair of seventh-place finishes in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events.

Senior Taylor Felton set a personal best in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:12.39, placing her sixth in the event. Fellow seniors Alyson Aggers, Rachelle Kula and Jones ended their careers at CSU with a fourth-place finish in the 200 Medley Relay with a season-best time of 1:46.10. However, the relay team failed to defend its title for a possible fourth consecutive year.

Mattos described the team's relays throughout the week as "disappointing at best."

The Rams entered the championships shorthanded, without 2005 standout Abi Iler. Iler was ineligible for a majority of the season because of academics. The school's record holder in the 400-yard individual medley is expected to return to the team next year.

"We had to deal with some adversity this year, which is something I don't usually like to talk about before a race," Mattos said. "It's just one of those things you have to deal with."

In addition to Jones, Kula, Aggers and Felton, the team will also graduate senior Tiffany Thompson from Pagosa Springs.



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