Air Force’s Wen Zhang Blasts WAC Record 200 Free of 1:33.3 at WAC Day 1 Finals

2022 WAC Swimming and Diving Championships

The men’s 800 free relay looked like Air Force’s race to lose at the halfway mark where they had a 3 second lead over the field, but then the Rebels’ Christopher Mykkanen and Panos Bolanos hit the water. They split 1:34.92 and 1:34.58, respectively, to take control of the event and touch the wall in 1st with a final time of 6:21.59.

Bryan Chavez led off the UNLV relay with a 1:35.66 followed by Dominik Bujak with a 1:36.43. Air Force’s fastest splits came on their first half of the relay from lead-off swimmer Wen Zhang (1:33.39) and Adam Grimm (1:35.79).

This split is a lifetime best time for Zhang and simultaneously breaks his own WAC Conference record from 2021. He posted his previous best, a 1:33.65, at the Art Adamson Invitational in November. Zhang’s split tonight is more than one second faster than the time it took him to win the individual 200 free at the 2021 WAC Championships (1:34.55).

Air Force’s final relay time of 6:24.17 crushed their school record from 2017 by 1.3 seconds.

Cal Baptist secured the first victory of the meet in the men’s 200 medley relay by out-touching UNLV by .32 for a winning time and a new school record of 1:24.88. They broke the previous record set at the 2020 WAC Championships by a full 2 seconds. CBU’s backstroker Jacob Leahy got an early lead by splitting (21.74) followed by Jonathan Reiter (23.79), Robert Moseley (20.67), and Remi Fabiani (18.68).

Notably, UNLV’s breaststroker Samuel Willstrop and butterflier George Ratiu made up ground with the fastest splits in the field (23.58 and 20.35, respectively.) But Fabiani was one-third of a second faster than UNLV’s anchor, Reece Hemmens, to secure the win.

In the women’s 200 medley relay, Grand Canyon’s team of Briana Rittenbach (25.39), Raphaela Nakashima (27.86), Emily Muteti (24.38), and Claire Banic (21.95) touched first with a time of 1:39.58. They cracked the GCU school record set in December by the same crew, except Banic replaced Maria Brunlehner, by .8.

New Mexico State snagged 2nd with a 1:40.11 after their backstroker Maude Boily-Dufour took out the race with the fastest split in the final: 25.28. GCU’s Rittenbach, Nakashima, and Muteti slowly devoured that lead, though New Mexico’s butterflier Rachel Ponte nearly matched Muteti with a 24.44. Notably, Cal Baptist’s Vianka Hoyer blasted the fastest 50 fly split of 24.21 to help them to a 3rd place finish.

In the women’s 800 free relay, Grand Canyon had to fend off Northern Arizona down to the final few yards. GCU’s Brunlehner (1:49.51), Aleksandra Wegrzynowska (1:48.07), Robyn Edwards (1:50.06), and Maria Chatzi (1:50.04) finished with a school-record time of 7:17.68, out-touching NAU by .02.

Brunlehner secured GCU a half-a-second lead which extended to 2.5 seconds after Wegrzynowska finished her leg. But NAU’s Madison Rey and Annie Carlton both dropped 1:48’s to nearly catch them and finish with a final time of 7:17.70, sneaking under their school record from 2019 by .23.

On the diving boards, NAU’s Victoria Knapp defended her WAC Championship title on 1-meter by totaling 280.5 points. Despite GCU winning both relays, Knapp’s points plus NAU snagging 4th in the 200 medley relay and 2nd in the 800 free relay pushed NAU into the lead after day 1. Knapp was closely followed by Idaho’s Heather Hopkins with 272.8 points and GCU’s Lizzy McKnight with 264.40 points.

The session concluded with the men’s 3-meter final where Air Force’s Alex Kenyon won with 378.6 points, narrowly beating 2nd-place finisher Juan Gonzalez of Wyoming by about 5 points. Cal Baptist’s Evan Honer, the defending champion, finished in 3rd place with 316.45 points.

Team Scores After Day 1


  1. Wyoming – 103
  2. Cal Baptist – 100
  3. Air Force – 97
  4. UNLV – 95
  5. Grand Canyon – 57
  6. Seattle U – 26


  1. Northern Arizona – 136
  2. Grand Canyon – 103
  3. Idaho – 88
  4. New Mexico St – 71
  5. Dixie State – 54
  6. Cal Baptist – 53
  7. Seattle U – 48
  8. Northern Colorado – 30

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YESSIRR Alabama represent

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Lance up!

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About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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