While it may appear that the swimming and diving team has hit a wall in its season, the coach will tell you another story.
On Saturday, the team traveled to Las Vegas to compete against UNLV and UC-Santa Barbara. CSU lost to both teams, with final scores of 127-108 against UNLV and 174-67 against UCSB.
While four straight losses have not been a boost for morale, Head Coach John Mattos has been impressed with the team’s efforts.
“We swam really hard and dove extremely well and just came out on the short end of it,” said Mattos. “I don’t think it will affect our ability to keep our heads high, swim with pride and get ready for the championships.”
Three divers dominated the competition, as juniors Elyse Hall and Karin Knudson and freshman Nikki Kelley garnered the top three spots in the three-meter diving, respectively. They saw similar success in the one meter diving event, with Kelley and Hall securing first and second place and Knudson placing fourth.
“(The divers) have been very consistent,” Mattos said. “That kind of consistency should be able to help us out (in the championships.)”
On the swimming side, senior co-captain Brette Winegarner grabbed the Rams’ only first place finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.84. She went on to place second in the 200-yard backstroke, continuing a run of firsts and seconds that she’s seen in recent competitions.
“Brette is finally starting to understand that she has a lot of talent,” Mattos said of Winegarner’s consistently fast swims. “She has a great feel for the water.which lends itself to wins, and I’d like to see that carried on a long time into the future this year.”
Saturday’s match-up with UCSB was CSU’s first competition against the Big West team in more than four years. Prior to the meet, Mattos said the team’s “primary concern” would be conference opponent UNLV.
The conference loss gives the Rams a tie for fourth in the Mountain West Conference standings with UNLV. The team is now 6-4 overall and 4-3 in conference.
While the Rams pay attention to the standings, Winegarner said they are no indication of how the conference championship will play out.
“Dual meets matter throughout the season, but when you get to conference it’s a whole different meet,” Winegarner said. “At this point, we’re trying not to get discouraged by the standings.because you never know what people can pull out at conference.
“It’s a whole different game out there.”
The team has one chance remaining to improve its conference record before the MWC championships at the end of February. The Rams compete against border rival Wyoming (No. 3 in MWC) at 5 p.m. on Friday in their final home meet of the season.
Swimming and diving beat reporter Amanda Schank can be reached at email@example.com.