It was a historic weekend for the Vandals at the WAC Swimming and Diving Championships, which took place Feb. 27 through March 3, as Idaho fielded the WAC Diver of the Year and finished a program-high fourth place at the meet. Idaho finished with 409 total points.
“Two years ago, this was a last-place team,” Idaho coach Mark Sowa said. “Now, we’re fourth out of nine. We’ve more than doubled our point total from two years ago to now. This year we had four individual champions, we had 12 school records, we had three NCAA provisional times and we had the diver of the year.”
Idaho junior Paige Hunt secured the WAC Diver of the Year honor after finishing third in the platform dive with 234.30 points on Saturday. It was her third top three finish of the weekend. Hunt had previously finished second in the 1-meter dive and third in the 3-meter dive earlier in the meet.
“This was what we know Paige is and it finally came altogether,” Sowa said. “She was a fierce competitor.”
In the pool, Idaho sophomore Rachel Millet won her second individual event of the meet with her victory in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 47.89 seconds on Friday. It was also her second individual school record of the meet. Millet is undefeated in the 200 freestyle this year.
“That’s the first time in program history that any one person has won more than one event for the Vandals,” coach Sowa said. “She made some people really take notice of her. Thank God we have her for two more years because she’s got a bright future ahead of her.”
The final Vandal victory of the four-day championship meet came from freshman Jamie Sterbis in the 200-yard butterfly. Her time of 1:58.57 is almost 10 seconds faster than her time coming into the program.
Sterbis swam down the field during the last 25 yards of the race to secure the victory.
The individual victories helped propel the Vandals to their fourth-place finish but Sowa said some swims went under the radar to add depth to the team. Athletes had to finish in the top 16 to score points for their team.
Idaho is set to make a big impact in next year’s WAC Championships as it returns 23 of 26 athletes for the 2013-14 season, including the winners of all four individual victories from this weekend.
Before the offseason, a few Vandals hope to qualify for the NCAA Championships March 21-23 at Indiana University-Purdue. The NCAA selections will be announced Wednesday.
I like the progress but we’re not satisfied with that,” Sowa said. “We want to keep moving forward. We have a vision of what this program can be and we want this to be a championship team.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org