By TRICIA GARNER
The BYU women’s swimming and diving team ended its conference season with a second-place finish at the WAC Championships this weekend in Oklahoma City.
Led by graduating senior All-American Sarah McKeever and co-captain Hanalee Hawkins, as well as sophomore Jennifer Tasker, the women’s team beat out third-place Rice University by 89.5 points while falling to Southern Methodist University, a swimming powerhouse ranked third in the nation.
“I was really pleased with our effort,” head coach Stan Crump said. “The other teams, especially Rice, came out and swam like gangbusters. We really competed well head-to-head.”
The leading finisher for BYU was Tasker, who placed fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke. Tasker narrowly beat out the fifth-place swimmer, Rice’s Robin Davidson, by .01 seconds.
“Jennifer was our best individual swimmer,” Crump said. “She has a reasonable chance at qualifying for the NCAA’s this year.”
Also contributing mightily to the Cougar effort were McKeever and Hawkins.
“(Sarah and Hanalee) were the stars of the show for us,” Crump said. “They both made three finals and scored really well for us.”
McKeever recorded a seventh-place finish in the 100-butterfly and came in eighth in the 200-individual medley. Hawkins scored sixth-place finishes in both the 50-freestyle and 100-backstroke.
Sophomore Mary Duffin also did well for the Cougars, taking sixth in the 200-IM just above teammate McKeever.
The BYU relay squads had good outings as well, led by a third-place finish in the 200-medley event swum by Tasker, Hawkins, Jennifer Teerlink and Jann Stacey. The 400 and 800-medley teams both took fourth.
“All of our relays were really good,” Crump said. “They scored some big points for us.”
A particularly bright point in the meet was the NCAA-qualifying performances by divers Rachelle Smith, Jessica Dye, Jenny Dahl and Laurel Eldredge. Smith especially had a stellar weekend, placing second to SMU’s Jenny Lingamfelter on the 1-meter board. Eldredge and Nye placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the same event.
On the 3-meter board, Dahl, Smith and Eldredge finished 3-4-5 to further contribute to the team’s overall score.
Overall, Crump felt the team had a good, strong outing.
“A couple of kids struggled a little bit, but they handled it real well. They really plugged away,” he said.