By Ben Colin
The women's-only Mountain West conference convenes for its season-ending swimming and diving championship meet at the Palo Alto College Aquatic Center in San Antonio this week, spanning Wednesday through Saturday.
Defending champion Boise State enters as the favorite to win, slightly ahead of San Diego State. The Broncos claimed the title a year ago in College Station, Texas, by 250 points over the Aztecs. They did it behind wins from all five relays and a dominant performance from two senior sprinters.
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Boise State head coach Jeremy Kipp has confidence in his new-look team as it approaches the meet, which holds the possibility of seeing multiple squads having a moment atop the standings.
“This is going to be a very tight team race. Many teams have gotten much faster and deeper in terms of talent,” Kipp said. “I believe the teams that can stay even keel will probably have the best chance to win.”
Every team will have a strong representation in the finals sessions, something not seen in many so-called power conferences. In those leagues, breaststroke is the equalizer, giving the left-out schools a shot at an A-final. In the Mountain West, all but three teams will be represented in over half of the finals.
Boise State is seeded to be in at least 10 of 13 championship final races. Air Force, Fresno State, and San Jose State are the three teams with the fewest predicted A-final races.
“Winning gives a team a firm grasp on success,” Kipp said. “Winning can also have an effect on your competitors and put the target on your back. We don't necessarily judge our success on winning or losing, but being able to look in the mirror at night and know you gave it your all.”
Among the swimmers leading BSU back to the conference meet is junior Ally Kleinsorgen. She won the 100 backstroke last year and enters this year as the top seed in that event along with the 100 freestyle. Senior Emma Chard is also looking to defend as the 200 freestyle champion and climb from runner-up to champion in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle.
Other multiple event favorites vying for swimmer of the meet include New Mexico’s Konoha Shinada and Adriana Palomino. Both were in contention last year but return with the fastest times this year.
Both breaststroke events match the defending champion, Wyoming senior Maria Harutjunjan, against UNLV sophomore Sofia Carnevale. They finished first and second, respectively, a year ago, but Carnevale has the edge entering this meet.
On the springboards, Nevada senior Sharae Zheng looks to win her third consecutive conference championship. She captured all three diving events last year and is a strong favorite to do so again this year.
10 Women To Watch
Konoha Shinada, New Mexico — Sprint Free, Butterfly
Sharae Zheng, Nevada — Diving
Sofia Palomino, New Mexico — Distance Free
Sofia Carnevale, UNLV — Breaststroke
Ally Kleinsorgen, Boise State — Sprint Free, Backstroke
McKenna Meyer, San Diego State — Distance Free, IM
Andressa Cholodovskis, Nevada — Free, IM
Kyndal Phillips, UNLV — Fly, IM
Emma Chard, Boise State — Distance Free
Frida Berggren, SDSU — Fly, IM
2018 Mountain West Swimming & Diving Championships
Palo Alto College Aquatic Center, San Antonio
Short Course Yards (SCY)