CMU teams both second at RMAC swim championships

Colorado Mesa’s Briana Purkapile swims the freestyle portion of the 200-yard individual medley at Thursday’s RMAC swim and dive championships.

Briana Purkapile made the turn from breaststroke to freestyle in the women’s 200-yard individual medley final in fourth place with Grand Canyon University swimmers all around her: four on her right and two on her left.

But the Colorado Mesa University junior nearly left them all in her wake during the final 50 yards. She claimed second place and started the Mavericks on their way to many more top-six finishes during Day 2 of the RMAC swim championships at El Pomar Natatorium on Thursday.

The 200 IM was the second individual event of the evening, and Purkapile’s finish fired up the CMU’s men’s and women’s teams as they tied NCAA Division II powerhouse and future Division I addition Grand Canyon University at different points during the evening.

“I think what’s happening for us is that the emotional level is so high right now from seeing everyone do so well, that it is feeding into even higher-level performances,” Mavericks coach Ron Allen said. “A few of the swimmers know, Briana being one of them, that other swimmers are looking to them to sort of lead them to nationals.

“I don’t think it’s a feeling of pressure anymore, but a feeling of expectation.”

Purkapile was seeded ninth before finishing second in the preliminaries. Her finish secured a “B” cut qualifying time for the NCAA Swimming National Championships. “B” cuts are used to fill the 16-swimmer field after all of the “A” cut qualifiers are placed. Seeing her team on pace with Grand Canyon was something she didn’t expect.

“It was more than I ever imagined,” Purkapile said. “We came into this, coach told us that whatever energy we put in, the swimmer after us will give right back. We bought into that, and to be honest, we always thought we were going to get third (behind) Incarnate Word and Grand Canyon. To hear our names up there, tied, was amazing. We’ve worked our butts off this year, harder than we’ve ever worked.”

In the men’s one-meter diving final, All-American Brock Martin of Colorado Mesa cruised to a nearly 100-point victory over teammates Ryan Popp and Austin Farenholtz. It was the first event in which the Mavericks secured the top three finishes.

In the women’s 500 freestyle, the Mavericks’ Kelly Hogan made the “B” cut for nationals with a time of 5 minutes, 3.94 seconds.

CMU’s Tyler Kaslik finished fourth in the men’s 500 freestyle, narrowly missing the “B” cut at 4:43.29.

Brett Lowe secured a “B” cut place by 0.68 seconds with a time of 1:53.10, finishing second in the men’s 200 individual medley for the Mavs.

Colorado Mesa freshman Mehdi El Hazzaz made the “B” cut and finished fourth in the men’s 50 freestyle with a time of 20.66 seconds.

The CMU women’s team finished second in the 200 freestyle relay, and the Mavericks’ men’s relay finished third in the same event.

In the 400 medley relay, the Mavericks’ men’s team placed second, and the women’s squad finished third. 

“It was a benefit for our team to be more or less awestruck, knowing that we were hanging with (Grand Canyon) right now,” Allen said. “This is going to help immensely in making our team better over the next few years.”

Colorado Mesa is second in the team standings for men and women heading into Day 3. The men trail Grand Canyon by six points, down 315–309, and the women trail Grand Canyon 379–261.

“What I’m going to be looking for in the next couple days is fatigue,” Allen said. “I want to see how the team overcomes fatigue. They need to rest well, eat well and use the emotional level of the team to get back up to where we are now. I’m going to tell them, ‘Don’t wait. Don’t wait for a fast performance. Get up and make it happen.’ ”


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