Thursday, March 4, 2021

The BYU men's swim team holds the MPSF championship banner in San Luis Obispo, California. The Cougars broke six program records en route to the title. (BYU Athletics)

Olympic overview: BYU men’s swim team wins MPSF championship

The BYU men’s and women’s swim teams broke six program records en route to first and second-place finishes, respectively, at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships on Feb. 20 in San Luis Obispo, California.

Swimming

The BYU men’s swim team took home the 2021 MPSF Championship in a dominant win, scoring 885.50 points, 135 points ahead of second place. Sophomore Brad Prolo broke a personal, meet and program record in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:44.16 and junior Javier Nicolas Matta took second with the fourth-fastest time in BYU history with a time of 1:45.96. 

Junior Josue Dominguez broke a program and meet record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 51.81 seconds. Junior Rodger Woods took first place in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.27 seconds. Matta also placed first in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 47.43 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in BYU history. Freshman Payton Plumb took home first with a time of 1:36.36 in the 200-yard freestyle for the fourth-fastest time in BYU history.

The women’s team took home second place, earning its second-highest conference score in program history with 727.50 points. Sophomore Katie McBratney broke her third program record of the week in the 2000-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:11.44. McBratney also took first in the 100-yard breaststroke, breaking a program and meet record with a time of 1:00.10. 

The BYU women’s swim team after the Cougars’ second-place finish at the MPSF Championships on Feb. 20. They earned the second-highest conference score in program history with 727.50 points. (BYU Athletics)

Freshman Summer Murphy took first in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:22.90 and junior Gwen Gustafson placed first in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:49.11. Freshman Rivers Johnson and junior Anna Despain placed first and second for the Cougars in the 100-yard backstroke, respectively.

Both the men’s and women’s 400-yard freestyle relay teams took first place, the men’s team with a time of 2:56.48 and the women at 3:20.85. Overall the Cougars broke six program records and four meet records, taking first place in 16 of 40 events. 

Women’s Volleyball

The No. 12 Cougars swept the Loyola Marymount Lions in a doubleheader on Feb. 16 and 17. BYU had a season-high 11 aces on Feb. 16. Junior setter Taylor Hifo tallied eight aces in the series, four in each match. Sophomore setter Whitney Bower contributed to the dominant service line with a season-high three aces and freshman outside hitter Leilani Dodson added two aces of her own.

The Cougars hit at a .667 clip in the first match. Sophomore opposite hitter Kate Grimmer led the team with 12 kills and senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg totaled 10 kills and six blocks. Bower finished with four kills and 37 assists.

Kate Grimmer spikes the ball against LMU in the Smith Fieldhouse. Grimmer led BYU with 12 kills in a win over the Lions on Feb. 16. (Preston Crawley)

Senior Taylen Ballard-Nixon led the team in the second match with 16 kills, hitting at a .424 clip, to go along with five digs and an ace. Grimmer contributed 10 kills, hitting at a .562 clip with two digs and two blocks. Eschenberg hit .500 with nine kills and freshman Madi Allen tallied double-digit digs for the sixth time this season with 13.

No. 12 BYU plays at Pepperdine this week on Feb. 23 and 24 in Malibu.

Softball

BYU came home from the St. George Classic with two wins over UVU and Nevada.  In game one, freshman outfielder Violet Zavodnik was a perfect 3-of-3, with two runs, four RBIs and two home runs. Senior outfielder Rylee Jensen-McFarland added two runs and senior pitcher Arissa Paulson had seven strikeouts in the win.

In game two, Jensen-McFarland and junior shortstop Marissa Chavez both recorded home runs for the Cougars. Jensen-McFarland hit 3-of-4 and had two RBIs. Chavez had three RBIs and senior pitcher Autumn Moffat-Korth got the win on the mound, recording nine strikeouts.

BYU will head to the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Arizona Feb. 25-27.

Baseball

BYU split the doubleheader against Texas State to open the season, falling short 5-4 in the first game, followed by a 9-4 victory later that night.

In game one, sophomore Cy Nielson pitched 3.2 innings with six strikeouts and three errors, and senior Easton Walker finished the game with two strikeouts. Senior catcher Abe Valdez went 2-of-4 and had two RBI doubles. Junior transfer Cole Gambill from Salt Lake Community College hit a home run in the fourth inning.

In game two, BYU got out to a quick start with four hits in the second inning. Junior catcher Joshua Cowden, sophomore infielder Andrew Pintar and Gambill each had two hits in the game, helping to lead the Cougars to the overwhelming win. Sophomores Jack Sterner and Bryce Robinson, and junior Reid McLaughlin each had two strikeouts in the win.

The Cougars continue their four-game series against Texas State this week, followed by a trip to Austin to take on the University of Texas on Feb. 24-27.

Gymnastics

No. 11 BYU beat No. 21 Boise State and the Air Force Academy with a score of 196.975 and received several Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference accolades in the process.

Senior Avery Bennett was named Vault Specialist of the Week after scoring a 9.900 in the tri-team meet. Freshman Sophia McClelland and senior Abby Stainton both earned scores of 9.925 and were among the Beam Specialists of the Week. Junior Brittney Vitkauskas was named Floor Specialist of the Week after receiving a 9.925 on her routine.

BYU will host Utah State on Feb 26 in the Smith Fieldhouse for its next meet.

Track and Field

The Cougars competed at the BYU Indoor Invitational III on Feb. 18-20.

Junior pole vaulter Caleb Witsken cleared 5.52 meters this weekend, landing him in the No. 5 five spot in BYU history. Sophomore All-American Zach McWhorter won the event, clearing 5.81 meters. McWhorter is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA, with Witsken ranked No. 6.

Freshman Hannah Richardson and junior Isabel Neal both moved into the BYU top 10 list over the weekend in the women’s pole vault. Richardson ranks No. 8 at 4.07 meters and Neal No. 10 at 4.02 meters.

Women’s shot put took the top four spots in the meet, with senior Sierra Freeland marked at 14.80 meters for first. Sophomore Jessica Thompson hit 13.70 meters, sophomore Gretchen Hoesktre 13.23 meters and junior Bradina Anae 13.09 meters. Junior Austin Carter of men’s shot put won the event with a 16.14-meter throw.

Junior Sable Lohmeier El-Bakri won the women’s weight throw with a personal best of 17.16 meters.

Sophomore Annalise Hart placed first in the women’s triple jump marking 11.69 meters, while freshman Taye Raymond (5.68 meters) and junior Connor Kennedy (6.82 meters) won the women’s and men’s long jump, respectively.

Sophomore Cierra Tidwell-Allphin won the women’s high jump at 1.75 meters. Junior Jaslyn Gardner won the 60-meter sprint with a time of 7.36 seconds. Junior Easton Bianchi and senior Colten Yardley finished first and second in the men’s 60-meter with times of 6.76 and 6.85.

BYU will finish up the indoor season at the Husky Classic Feb. 25-27.

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