Mesa pool party
Mavs performs well on Day 1 of RMAC swim championships
Colorado Mesa swimming & diving coach Ron Allen believed his team could make a statement in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships.
On the first day of competition, the Mavericks did.
The Colorado Mesa men won three of five events to take the lead on the first day of the RMAC Championships on Wednesday at El Pomar Natatorium. The women are in second place behind California Baptist.
“We have made a statement on this first day,” CMU coach Ron Allen said. “One of the things I told the team right away was don’t worry about where the relay finishes or first places. When you’re trying to win a conference championship, it’s second through 10 that really matters. Every single person is vital, not just the star.”
The Mesa men have 286 points. No. 17 Cal Baptist has 249. The ninth-ranked Cal Baptist women lead with 214 points. Mesa is second with 190.
The conference championship meet continues through Saturday and the Mavericks have plenty of work to do before they can claim the RMAC title.
“I don’t think it necessarily set a tone,” Allen said. “I expected those kind of performances. These next two days will really dictate what we do in this meet.”
Allen said the altitude has given the Mavs the edge early, especially against the Lancers.
“When you compare us to a team like Cal Baptist, it is definitely an advantage,” he said. “We’re familiar with the altitude. Even if it doesn’t effect them all that much, it is still in their head, so it is definitely a factor.”
The altitude played a big role in the men’s 1,000-yard freestyle with Mesa freshman Jarren Brinton winning in 9 minutes, 31.67 seconds. Senior teammate Tyler Kaslik took second in 9:35.18. Both have NCAA Division II B standard times. Swimmers must achieve an A standard time to automatically qualify for nationals.
“I was just going out there to race and do my best and put out the best time I could,” Brinton said. “I’m a back half swimmer. The last 500 I try to go harder. When I was looking for the 500 mark, I thought, ‘Now is my time. Go for it.’ “
Kaslik was seeded seventh for the finals, but was confident he could use the altitude to his advantage.
Mesa not only took first and second in the distance event, but the sprint as well with Kent Olsen-Stavrakas winning the 50 freestyle in 20.14 seconds and Justin Hastings coming in second in 20.73.
“That’s what I wanted to do,” Olsen-Stavrakas said. “I think I’ll get in nationals. The No. 2 guy is 20.12, so I’m right there. That’s the fastest I’ve ever gone. The training paid off.” Olsen-Stavrakas wanted to go 19.9, but is hoping he get a chance to break the 20-second mark at nationals.
Brock Martin won the 3-meter dive, as expected, with a score of 520.45.
“In an RMAC event, he probably doesn’t get the notoriety he deserves because everyone expects him to win,” Allen said. “When I write up my projections, I always have him marked up as a win. When it comes to nationals, that’s where he’ll get a chance to shine. Here, it’s just Brock Martin wins again.”
Martin was pleased with his performance.
“I had a good meet today,” Martin said. “I wanted to make it great last RMAC meet of my career. I wanted to do my best and I did, I think.”
Teammate Ryan Popp took second place with 419.85.
Popp added to his height on his dives, but has yet to qualify for nationals. He’s hopeful he’ll qualify in the 1-meter.
Briana Purkapile led the Colorado Mesa women with a first-place finish in the 200 individual medley. The senior finished in 2:04.63.
“It felt great,” Purkapile said. “I was praying beforehand asking for strength to finish it. I know I have my team behind me and my family is here.”
Cal Baptist’s Patricia Hapsari was right behind her in 2:04.89 and Purkapile realized she was on her tail.
“Oh, yeah,” Purkapile said. “Coming into the breaststroke, I thought, I’ve got to finish it. Coming back with the freestyle, I went for it.”
Colorado Mesa won eight matches to close out the dual season with a 36-7 victory over Colorado School of Mines in Golden.
The 17th-ranked Mavericks (11-5, 5-3 RMAC) scored bonus points in five of the eight victories.
Mesa 197-pound junior Paco Retana pinned Paul Wilson with four seconds left in the first period. Colby Christensen got his first pin as a Maverick in the 133-pound match. Jessie Hoffschneider ended his match early with a technical fall in the third period and Trevor Donarski won a major decision.
Mesa hosts the NCAA West Regional tournament Feb. 28-March 1 at Brownson Arena.