Senior Brette Winegarner turned in a typical performance in her signature event on Senior Day as the Rams swimming team fell to the Wyoming Cowgirls at Ram Pool on Friday night.
Winegarner took the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events to pace the Rams (4-4 MWC) early, but a rowdy Wyoming (5-2 MWC) cheer section and a disqualified 400-yard freestyle Ram A relay team helped pace the Cowgirls to a 137-125 victory.
Veteran Head Coach John Mattos saluted senior co-captains Chandra Engs and Winegarner along with juniors Amy Abrams and Rachel Rey (who will forgo their senior seasons in lieu of graduation) in a teary eyed tribute to the graduating women during intermission, at which the Rams trailed 69-62.
Engs, Abrams and Rey each earned all-Mountain West academic accolades for their work in the classroom, while Mattos praised his seniors’ work in the pool.
“We bid a fond farewell to four of Colorado State’s finest athletes,” Mattos said. “We wish them nothing but success.”
Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk was on hand to see off the seniors.
“I know their time went faster than they suspected, but we are proud of them and the time they have spent at CSU,” said Kowalczyk. “The seniors have left a legacy of success and a rich tradition with this team.”
The Rams came out of the break inspired, taking first and second in the 100-yard freestyle and first, second, and third in the 200-yard backstroke, but would fail to win another event as the Cowgirls hoisted the Bronze Boot in front of CSU swimmers and parents.
“We are a spirited team, and we expected to win tonight,” said Mattos. “But our seniors gave us four phenomenal years and we are very proud of them.”
Freshmen Jennifer Muniz and Gisella Cianci helped the Rams extend their lead to 93-76 following intermission – their largest of the night – with wins in the 200-yard butterfly and 100-yard freestyle respectively, while junior Tara Staley added a first place finish in the 200-yard freestyle.
The Rams held a 123-122 lead heading into the night’s final event, a 400 yard freestyle relay, in which Wyoming’s A relay squad rallied back at the 300 yard mark to upset the Colorado State B relay squad anchored by junior Sam Johnson by .08 seconds.
The women return to the pool on February 21st at the Mountain West
Conference Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., for what will be the seniors’ last collegiate swim.
Coach Mattos affirmed the team’s mental fortitude heading into the conference tournament with the likes of undefeated Utah and BYU teams.
“We will be ready,” Mattos said.
Sports staff writer Mathew Planalp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.