Pool party

Mesa swim teams finish 2nd in RMAC championships

Colorado Mesa’s Ashley Ochsner takes a breath during the 200-yard breaststroke Saturday at the RMAC swim championships.



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Colorado Mesa’s Ashley Ochsner takes a breath during the 200-yard breaststroke Saturday at the RMAC swim championships.

Fans started pounding on bleachers, while cheers from numerous teams echoed around El Pomar Natatorium on Saturday night. Robyn Meeks’ 200-yard backstroke final was a microcosm of the entire four-day Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference swimming championships for the Mavericks: emotional build-up with an unexpected payoff.

Meeks was seeded sixth, and she finished fourth during preliminaries. The final caused the stands to erupt with cheers when the final 100 yards was a four-way race for second place. Adams State swimmer Kelsie Baggs had all but sealed the victory, but Meeks’ second-place finish was only eight-tenths of a second away from fourth place.

“I was just thinking about finishing at that point. It’s a tough race,” Meeks said of the 200 backstroke. “We’ve all worked really hard. We never thought we’d be this close to Grand Canyon (University) or even considered beating (University of The Incarnate) Word. It’s given everyone something to push for.”

Colorado Mesa’s men’s and women’s teams each finished the RMAC Championships in second place, trailing Grand Canyon University.

Grand Canyon and Colorado Mesa finished ahead of four-time defending RMAC men’s champion Incarnate Word. Grand Canyon will be one of the favorites at the Division II national championships after a 2012-13 season in which it topped Arizona State University and Canadian powerhouse University of Calgary.

CMU coach Ron Allen, who was selected RMAC men’s swimming coach of the year after the meet, said entering the RMAC championships he expected to compete with Colorado School of Mines in the men’s and women’s divisions. While Mines finished fifth in the women’s division and fourth in the men’s division, CMU contended with two top-10 programs.

“What I told the team is that the transition they made into a family unit and just coming together as a team was phenomenal,” Allen said. “Competing with Grand Canyon was such an unknown theme for us during the first day or two that it came as such a shock to us. I think part of the reason we rode such a high wave of emotion during those first two days was that it was such a shock to us.

“I think on Friday we came back to earth a bit, and on Saturday, with the scores and times and all of the above, we weren’t trying to hold out, but really came through tonight.”

Brock Martin wrapped up a dominant showing for the Mavericks in diving. He won the men’s three-meter diving by more than 100 points to cap a weekend in which six Mesa divers finished in the top three at least once.

CMU’s Medhi El Hazzaz finished third in the men’s 100 freestyle, finishing with a time of 45.11 seconds. It was his third top-five finish in a final.

Brett Lowe’s 200 breaststroke time of 2 minutes, 03.61 seconds was good enough for fourth place, and fellow Maverick Tyler Kaslik finished third in the men’s 200 butterfly final with a time of 1:52.89.

For the CMU women, Briana Purkapile finished third in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:11.04. One second separated third through sixth places.

The Mavericks’ men’s and women’s 400 freestyle relays finished second behind Grand Canyon.

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