MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WVI) – The West Virginia University men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams opened competition at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship, at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park, in Morgantown on Wednesday.
The men’s team’s second-place finish in the 200 medley relay highlighted the evening. Junior Angelo Russo, sophomore Fausto Huerta, junior David Dixon and freshman Hunter Armstrong collected West Virginia’s first medals of the competition. For the divers, a pair of Mountaineers garnered All-Big 12 Second Team awards, as redshirt senior Austin Smith and sophomore PJ Lenz finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the men’s 1-meter springboard competition.
“Tonight was a strong start to the week,” WVU coach Vic Riggs said. “All of our relay teams improved from our mid-season invitational, which is how you want to start the week. Our divers also did a great job on the boards tonight.”
The night opened with the 200 medley relay. The women’s team of junior Ally VanNetta, freshman Mathilde Kaelbel and seniors Morgan Bullock and Julia Nilton combined to finish in fifth place with a time of 1:41.87. The men’s team’s silver-medal performance came next, as Russo, Huerta, Dixon and Armstrong finished in second place after touching the wall in 1:25.59.
In the diving well, Smith paced the men in the 1-meter finals, as he earned a fifth-place finish with a 304.45 mark, while Lenz finished in sixth place, notching 301.45 points. Sophomore Nick Cover and freshman Owen Johns rounded out the podium finishers in seventh (290.00) and eighth (289.30), respectively.
“This was a great first day,” diving coach Michael Grapner said. “I’m proud of the divers and their performances today. This is all new for us, hosting and getting used to the vibe of competition. I think the men handled it very well. This week, I want the divers to focus on attitude, and a positive attitude will produce a positive result.”
In the final event of the of the evening, the 800 freestyle relay, the women’s team of junior Giselle Gursoy, sophomores Reka Kovacs and Emma Bliss and junior Luisa Winkler just missed the medals, taking fourth place with a time of 7:23.87. The men’s team of Armstrong, junior Max Gustafson, senior Trayton Saladin and freshman Zach Boley finished in third place, claiming the bronze medal with a time of 6:35.20.
The Mountaineers return to competition on Thursday, Feb. 27, for the second day of action at the Big 12 Championship. Thursday’s prelims are set to begin at 10 a.m. ET at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park, while finals action will commence at 6 p.m. ET