Friday was senior day at Moby Pool and the desired outcome for the CSU swimming and diving team did not come as the Rams fell 176-123 to UNLV.
CSU (7-3, 4-3) was plagued all afternoon with only one first place in any swimming event, which came from sophomore Nora Kennedy in the 200 butterfly. Second place, however, almost came too easy as the Rams placed second to the Rebels in the 200 yard medley relay, 400 freestyle relay, 1,000, 500 and 50 freestyle, 200 and 100 breaststroke, and the 100 butterfly.
With the exception of Kennedy and Annsley Lujan’s 1-2 punch in the 200 yard butterfly, the closest CSU came to winning another swimming event was the 500 freestyle. It almost looked certain that sophomore Kathleen McCleary and senior Celes Parks would finish first and second with 50 yards to go until UNLV’s Bailey Kuestermeyer made an unforeseen sprint to capture first.
“Celes was there with me, but [Kuestermeyer] swam the race hard and she did what she had to do to win.” McCleary said.
While the Rams struggled while racing across the pool, gracefully diving into it was a different story as Colorado State dominated both the 1 meter and 3 meter diving events thanks to the senior leadership of Karin Knudson and Elyse Hall.
Knudson, who took first place in 3 mtr. diving with a score of 285.98, earned a dual-high score of 7.0, 7.0 on both the 3 and 1 meter events. Hall, the Rams top diver, placed first in the 1 mtr. diving with a score of 269.85 and second in the 3 mtr.
“It hasn’t really hit me that I won’t be competing next year,” Hall said, “This was my last meet at [CSU] and I had a lot of fun-I’ll definitely have great memories here.”
As the loss to UNLV was the Rams third consecutive, a win on Friday at Wyoming would be monumental for momentum as the Mountain West Championships in Oklahoma City are all that remains after the trip to Laramie.
“It seems like in the last three years when we come into the second half of our season and we’re still swimming well, but we’re just not able to outpoint the teams that we are going against and they’re just better teams right now than we are.” Head swimming and diving coach John Mattos said.
“[Wyoming] is going to be just as tough of meet as we’ve had all the rest of the way. If some of our kids who were real strong contributors last year, if they can’t pull it together in this last week we’re gonna struggle.”
The struggle CSU is facing is something that seems to be a mountain in which the Rams are almost to the summit as the team’s chemistry keeps strengthening with every practice and every dual.
“With everyone being with the team, it said for us our goodbyes for the seniors.” Parks said, “The loss doesn’t really affect us a lot, what means the most is our team is together and we’re here for one another and cheering for each other. that’s the most important thing.”
Sports writer Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org