Wen Zhang Swims Third Fastest 200 Free This Season on Day 3 of WAC Championships


  • Wednesday, February 22 – Saturday, February 25, 2023
  • Pharr, TX
  • Defending Champions:
    • Women: Northern Arizona (9x)
    • Men: UNLV (2x)
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  • Championship Central

After becoming the fourth fastest performer in the 200 free leading off Air Force’s 800 free on Wednesday night, Wen Zhang climbed the rankings even further in the individual event. After touching in 1:31.62 on the relay, he shaved another two-tenths of a second off of his lifetime best in the race, touching in 1:31.42. He now ranks behind only Missouri’s Jack Dahlgren and Alabama’s Charlie Hawke in the event this year.

Men’s 200 Free NCAA Rankings, 2022-23

  1. Jack Dahlgren (UMIZ), 1:31.17
  2. Charlie Hawke (BAMA), 1:31.20
  3. Wen Zhang (AF), 1:31.42
  4. Grant House (ASU), 1:31.51
  5. Luke Miller (NCS), 1:31.87

Zhang has been dominant in the WAC over his career, winning at least one event all four years and setting multiple conference and school records. He has now successfully claimed four conference titles in the 200 free, setting the conference record each of the past two years.

While she fell short of setting a conference record in either of her events, Utah Tech’s Pia Murray, a third-year transfer from Florida State, left Day 3 with a pair of individual golds.

Murray opened her night by claiming the conference title in the 100 fly over a field that included defending champion Emily Muteti. Murray held off runner-up Paula Martinez Moreno to take gold in 53.41.

Murray followed that performance by adding a second conference title in the 100 back later in the session. She finished just a few tenths off of the conference record, touching at 53.17.

In her third race of the night, Murray swam the third leg of Utah Tech’s 400 medley relay, helping them to gold. Joined by Ally Boynton, Skyler Lyon, and Ilyea Losey, the team combined to win in 3:38.65. That put them well ahead of runner-up Northern Arizona, who took silver in 3:39.93.

Claiming her second title in as many years in the 400 IM was Northern Arizona’s Maddy Rey. After cruising through finals to finish as the second seed, Rey dropped four seconds at night to take the gold in 4:15.61.

The men’s 400 IM featured a trio of underclassmen on the podium, with Air Force freshman Camden Swigart taking the top spot. Swigart finished with the second fastest time in program history, touching in 3:48.56. He was followed by UNLV sophomore Mike Breitbart (3:49.72) and UNLV freshman Dominik Bujak (3:50.21).

After tying for the top seed in prelims, Adrian Curbelo Tejera shaved another two tenths of a second off of his time to win the 100 fly with a lifetime best of 46.91. A year ago at the same meet Curbelo finished nearly a full second slower, taking 8th in 47.78.

Last year’s defending champion in the event, George Ratiu, finished with the top time in the B-final, taking 9th in 47.59. A year ago he was the conference champion with a time of 46.10.

Retaining her title in the women’s 200 free was Grand Canyon sophomore Aleksandra Wegrzynowska. In a race that featured the top three finishers from a year ago, Wegrzynowska once again came out on top, touching in 1:48.19.

The women’s 100 breast also saw a Grand Canyon sophomore defend their conference title. Maria Brunlehner, who was the conference champion in the 200 IM a day earlier, won her second title in 1:01.18. She was followed by teammate Raphaela Nakashima in 1:01.33.

Claiming the first conference title of his career, Danny Beji of UNLV ran away with the men’s 100 breast, finishing first by over a second. Beji finished with a lifetime best in the event, touching in 52.14.

After winning both the 200 IM and 100 back on Day 3 of the meet a year ago, UNLV’s Panos Bolanos opted to focus on just the 100 back this season. The move paid off, as he was over a second faster in the event on his way to his fourth straight podium appearance in the race. Bolanos touched in 45.80, almost two seconds ahead of Grand Canyon’s Alex Volkov, who took second.

Grand Canyon put oup a strong showing in platform diving, taking the top two spots. Abigail Erickson won the event, with Shiori Bak close on her heels for silver. While they didn’t win the event, Northern Arizona scored highly, with three girls in the A-final and three in the B-final.

The UNLV men closed out the session by contueing their dominant showing in relays, winning the 400 medley relay. With two day three individual event winners on the relay, the team of Bolanos, Beji, Charley Page-Jones, and Reece Hemmens finished in 3:07.45.

Overall, the Northern Arizona women and UNLV men continued widening their lead over the field on the third day of racing. Behind them, the Utah Tech women climbed into the top-3 with the help of Pia Murray two individual titles. On the men’s side, Grand Canyon passed California Baptist to sit second going into the final day of competition.

Women’s Team Scores (After Day 3)

  1. Northern Arizona – 642
  2. Grand Canyon – 426
  3. Utah Tech – 329
  4. New Mexico State – 322
  5. Northern Colorado – 316

Men’s Team Scores (After Day 3)

  1. UNLV – 586
  2. Grand Canyon – 415.5
  3. California Baptist – 382
  4. Wyoming – 370.5
  5. Air Force – 350

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7 months ago

Talented kid from a small town. Luckily the coaches found him. He’s dropped 6.3 seconds in the 200 but even more impressive, he’s dropped a whopping 27 seconds in the 500 since arriving at USAFA.

7 months ago

Sco Falcs