Air Force Men Earn 1st WAC Title; NAU Women Get 3rd on Day 4

Western Athletic Conference (WAC) – Men and Women

  • Wednesday, February 24 – Saturday, February 27, 2016
  • CRWC Natatorium, Houston, TX (Central Time Zone)
  • Defending Champion: UNLV men (2x) & Northern Arizona women (2x) (results)
  • Live results:
  • Live video: Available here
  • Championship Central

Complete final results

The excitement of the first three days of Western Athletic Conference competition, with the many back-and-forth movements in team standings, continued apace on Saturday in the CRWC Natatorium. In the women’s meet, Northern Arizona held on to the lead and finished on top, but spots 2-5 were up for grabs. New Mexico State and Bakersfield spent most of the meet trading second- and third-place standings, but despite a relay DQ on Day 3, Grand Canyon kept rising the ladder. The Lopes moved from fifth at the end of day 1 to seventh on day 2, to fifth on day 3, to third at the conclusion of the meet. Idaho had a successful outing as well, finishing fifth but within 21.5 points of CSUB, who slipped to fourth.

In the men’s meet, there were moments over the four-day championship when it looked like Wyoming might claim the title, or that UNLV might challenge for third, but in the end everyone performed well and there were no dramatic upsets. Air Force finished at the top, 81 points out of reach of Wyoming, to win the Western Athletic Conference title for the first time. The Cowboys, meanwhile, successfully kept Grand Canyon’s aspirations in check and finished 50 points ahead in second. UNLV had a strong final day but couldn’t close the gap with GCU and wound up 72 points back in fourth. (While a disqualification of the Rebels’ 400 free relay hurt their chances to move up the ladder, GCU performed well enough that it didn’t matter.)

1650 Yard Freestyle

  1. Kendall Brown, NAU, 16:32.86
  2. Kimmy Richter, NAU, 16:48.35
  3. Carleigh Barrett, N. Colorado, 16:58.21

Kendall Brown won her second event of the championships with a 16:32.86 rout in the 1650. She led wire-to-wire and improved on her 2015 third-place swim by 17 seconds, and her 2014 first-place finish by .41. Her teammate, sophomore Kimmy Richter, went out with her but couldn’t quite match Brown’s pace. Still, Richter and defending champion Carleigh Barrett of Northern Colorado, who took third, were the only two in the heat that Brown didn’t lap. Sophomore Gabi Liedy of North Dakota swam the fastest time out of the earlier heats, establishing the time to beat in finals with 16:58.24. Barrett inched past Liedy for a spot on the podium by 3/100.

  1. Andrew Faciszewski, AFA, 15:01.73
  2. Jacob Wielinski, UND, 15:05.71
  3. Kevin Jackson, AFA, 15:20.12

Air Force kicked off the final day of competition with a bang, going 1-3-4-5 in the 1650 free and increasing the lead it had over Wyoming in the men’s team race.

Air Force’s Andrew Faciszewski bettered his 2015 fourth-place swim in the event with a 15:01.73 win this year, a 26-second improvement for the junior. North Dakota freshman Jacob Wielinski made his mark with a 15:05.71 second-place performance, while 2015 runner-up, senior Kevin Jackson of Air Force, finished third in 15:20.12.

200 Yard Backstroke

  1. Iryna Glavnyk, GCU, 1:56.27
  2. Estela Davis Ortiz, GCU, 1:56.75
  3. Madi Lydig, Seattle, 2:00.73

As they had in the 100, Grand Canyon went 1-2 in the 200 back but this time the order was flip-flopped: junior Iryna Glavnyk touched out sophomore Estela Davis Ortiz 1:56.27 to 1:56.75. Galvnyk’s win marked her third consecutive WAC title in this event. Seattle sophomore Madi Lydig, who finished sixth last year, rounded out the podium with 2:00.73, a three-second improvement from 2015.

  1. Mark Nikolaev, GCU, 1:42.99
  2. Iegor Lytvenok, GCU, 1:44.23
  3. Kris Tillery, AFA, 1:45.63

Grand Canyon freshman Mark Nikolaev clocked a 1:42.99 in the 200 back to complete the 100-200 sweep of backstroke events. His teammate, senior Iegor Lytvenok, placed second in 1:44.23. After a fifth-place finish in 2015, Air Force junior Kris Tillery earned a spot on the podium this time with his 1:45.63 finish. Tillery took it out about a second faster at the 100 than he had been in prelims, and barely held on as Wyoming’s Ryan Ball outsplit him by 1.4 seconds over the final 50. Tillery got his hand to the wall first, though, and earned the bronze medal by .19.

100 Yard Freestyle

  1. Jovanna Koens, GCU, 50.05
  2. Paola Hernandez, CSUB, 50.45
  3. Kelsey Lange, CSUB, 50.69

Grand Canyon junior Jovanna Koens followed her 50 free win on Thursday with a victory in the 100 free on Saturday. Koens led wire-to-wire and won by a half body length, coming to the wall in 50.05. Defending champion Kelsey Lange of CSUB (50.69) was .1 off her winning pace from last year, which earned her third place this time, just behind teammate Paola Hernandez (50.45).

  1. Mazen El Kamash, GCU, 43.12
  2. Samuel Lameynardie, UNLV, 43.43
  3. Jacob Lambros, GCU, 43.98

After a second-place finish in the 50 free and a fifth in the 200, Grand Canyon junior Mazen El Kamash finally rose to the top of the podium with his 43.12 win in the 100 free. El Kamash got out fast enough to withstand a strong second 50 from UNLV’s Samuel Lameynardie. Lameynardie, who was the 2014 and 2015 bronze medalist in this event, took second with 43.43. Grand Canyon junior Jacob Lambros clocked a 43.98 and improved four spots from last year to finish third.

200 Yard Breaststroke

  1. Blaise Wittenauer-Lee, Seattle, 2:11.49
  2. Lauren Wood, NMSU, 2:12.67
  3. Urte Kazakeviciute, NAU, 2:13.73

Seattle junior Blaise Wittenauer-Lee came within .49 of the meet and conference record of 2:11.00 with her 2:11.49 victory in the 200 breast. As with the 100 breast, which she won on Friday, Wittenauer-Lee took a huge chunk out of her time from a year ago to win the event. Finishing third in 2015, Wittenauer-Lee went 2:15.72; that, in turn, was a huge improvement over her 2014 finish of 2:19.87, which landed her 12th overall.

Freshman Lauren Wood of New Mexico State earned the silver medal with a 2:12.67, while Urte Kazakeviciute of Northern Arizona got the bronze in 2:13.73.

  1. Boris Kulizhnikov, UNLV, 1:56.20
  2. Michael Barnosky, AFA, 1:56.33
  3. Kevin Fanter, AFA, 1:57.53

The race of the night was the championship final of the men’s 200 breast. Defending champion Michael Barnosky of Air Force took it out first, leading the field by a half-second at the 50. UNLV sophomore Boris Kulizhnikov moved up over the second 50, and turned just 1/10 behind Barnosky. Meanwhile, the six other contestants were only a second back, and all bunched up heading into the third 50. In the lead group, Kulizhnikov and Barnosky turned together at the 150 wall and raced for home. Kulizhnikov came home 1/10 faster and got the win with 1:56.20 to Barnosky’s 1:56.33. Air Force junior Kevin Fanter (1:57.53) edged Wyoming freshman Gabriel Rooker (1:57.77) and Grand Canyon junior Yousef El Kamash (1:57.80) for the third step of the podium.

200 Yard Butterfly

  1. Alina Staffeldt, NAU, 1:57.66
  2. Dorottya Lennert, NMSU, 1:59.76
  3. Carleigh Barrett, N. Colorado, 2:01.47

Northern Arizona sophomore Alina Staffeldt won her first conference title of the weekend with a strong 1:57.66 in the 200 fly. New Mexico State senior Dorottya Lennert followed in 1:59.76, while Carleigh Barrett of Northern Colorado rounded out the podium in 2:01.47.

  1. Daniil Antipov, GCU, 1:42.87
  2. George Eglesfield, Wyoming, 1:44.50
  3. Wade Nelson, Wyoming, 1:45.10

If there was ever a chance for Wyoming to take over the lead from Air Force, it would have been in the 200 fly. The Cowboys had five of the eight lanes in the championship final. However, it was Grand Canyon freshman Daniil Antipov who got the win. Antipov’s 1:42.87 destroyed the meet record of 1:45.17, set just last year, and lowered his own conference record of 1:44.95 that he had established in November. Wyoming senior George Eglesfield was also under the meet mark with his second-place 1:44.50, while Wade Nelson of Wyoming posted a 1:45.10 for third.

400 Yard Freestyle Relay

  1. CSUB, 3:20.55
  2. GCU, 3:23.21
  3. NAU, 3:24.47

Bakersfield won the women’s 400 free relay with 3:20.55, ahead of Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. The Roadrunners thus assured their fourth-place finish in the team standings, which Idaho had very nearly taken from them. The win wasn’t enough to overtake Grand Canyon on the ladder, though, as the Lopes were able to hang on at third with their runner-up relay swim.

  1. GCU, 2:52.57
  2. AFA, 2:56.48
  3. CSUB, 2:57.14

Grand Canyon set a championship record, beating UNLV’s 2014 mark by .29 to win the men’s 400 free relay. Air Force took second in 2:56.48. Bakersfield rounded out the top three with 2:57.14.

Final Standings – Women

  1. Northern Arizona University 807.5
  2. New Mexico State University 488
  3. Grand Canyon University 466.5
  4. C S U Bakersfield 463
  5. Idaho, University of 441.5
  6. The University of North Dakota 373.5
  7. Northern Colorado 307.5
  8. Seattle University 244.5

Final Standings – Men

  1. S. Air Force Academy 771 2
  2. Wyoming, University of 690
  3. Grand Canyon University 650
  4. University of Nevada Las Vegas 578
  5. The University of North Dakota 344
  6. C S U Bakersfield 309
  7. Seattle University 183


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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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