Thursday marks the end of the regular season for the CSU swimming and diving team, but it has the conference championships in its crosshairs.
The Rams will travel north to face Wyoming in this late-season Border War in the water. This dual presents a battle of one-loss teams with the Rams (8-1, 6-1 MWC) and the Cowgirls (12-1, 5-1); both teamsâ€™ only losses came at the hands of the BYU Cougars.
With both teams having experienced a successful year, this rivalry meet will look to give the victor great momentum into the conference championships later this month. The Ramâ€™s are on a hot streak, having won their last three duals but know winning at Wyoming will have its challenges.
â€œWe expect a real hostile environment, their men will be lining the deck cheering them on, and we know their women will be ready,â€ head coach John Mattos said of the atmosphere CSU will experience Thursday.
The meetâ€™s timing is interesting because BYU has the MWC Dual Championship locked up, so neither CSU nor Wyoming could take a share of it with a win Thursday night. The timing also has the Rams focused and preparing for the conference championships in Oklahoma City, but CSU still knows this is a rivalry meet.
â€œWeâ€™re ready for the championships, this meet is in between that,â€ Mattos said. â€œSo this meet is strictly for bragging rights.â€
This Border War will mark the 45th time the teams have faced each other in the water with CSU dominating the series 41-3. Though the Rams have owned the series overall, itâ€™s tied at 2-2 the last four years.
â€œItâ€™s been back and forth the last couple of years, said senior Kathleen McCleary about the rivalry in recent years. â€œOur main focus is conference, but the Border War is huge for us as a team.â€
Regardless of who wins tonightâ€™s dual, both teams will be heading into the MWC Championships atop of the conference and on the end of very successful regular seasons.
A win Thursday night would place the Rams in second in the MWC at the end of the regular season. This would not be foreign to CSU, who went in to the conference championships last year in second place but placed fifth in the meet.
Though circumstances are similar to last year, the Rams are preparing for a run that could have finishing higher.
â€œThe girls are right where they need to be at this point, they are looking really solid,â€ Mattos said. â€œWe are going to be ready when itâ€™s time.â€
The Rams swim for their fourth win in a row tonight in Laramie, Wyo., at Corbett Pool at 5 p.m. where one team will earn conference bragging rights.
â€œA win would be a huge confidence booster and great for the seniors to win the last four in a row,â€ McCleary said.
Swimming and Diving Beat Reporter David de Besche can be reached at email@example.com._