Blattner Defends Her MW Title in the 500 Free

photo courtesy of UW Athletics Department

by staff–19 Feb ’21

Senior Katelyn Blattner successfully defended and captured her second consecutive Mountain West title in the 500 freestyle on Thursday night at the 2021 MW Championships. It’s her third title in two years as she also won the 200 freestyle a year ago as well. She is the first Cowgirl to win back-to-back events since Lesley Young who accomplished it in the 100 backstroke in 2011 and 2012.

Blattner opened up the day with a second place finish in the prelims of the 500 free in a time of 4:51.57 to advance to the final. She would follow that up that up with a season-best time of 4:47.33 to take home the win. The victory was UW’s first conference title of the 2021 championships.

“A couple of great swims on the second day of the meet. Of course, Katelyn (Blattner) repeating as the 500 freestyle champion. It was a nice controlled race from beginning to end and she looks great in the water,” head coach Dave Denniston said. “Two other seniors that are doing a nice job are Hannah (Mclean-Leonard) who made the A Final in the 200 IM, which is a new event for her and Rylie (Pilon) is having a nice meet as well. Our seniors are doing a phenomenal job and the rest of the team as well. We miss having the divers as well and they are doing a great job. Melissa (Mirafuentes) finishing second on the 1-meter and McKenna (Houlihan) stepping up and winning the consolation finals is huge. Overall, the energy is great, we are racing, happy and looking forward to another couple of days of competition.” 

Wyoming sits in fourth with 358 points after the second day of competition at the MW Championships. Nevada jumped up to first place with 499 points followed by UNLV with 489 and San Diego State in third with 454.

In the prelims of the 500 freestyle, sophomore Emma Mehl placed tenth with a time of 4:57.01 to reach the B Final. She would record a time of season-best time of 4:55.30 to place 11th. Freshman Sage Morton was 15th with a time of 4:59.74 in her first MW Championship, while following up that performance in a time of 4:59.89. Sophomore Roxanna Ramirez also got in the scoring column with her time of 5:03.19 and a time of 5:04.55 in the C Final.

The 200 IM saw senior Hannah Mclean-Leonard turn in a preliminary time of 2:03.34 for a seventh place finish. She moved up one spot to sixth in a time of 2:03.43. Sophomore Emily Giles turned in a time of 2:05.82 to reach the B Final. She finished 15th and touched the wall in a time of 2:05.78. Senior Rylie Pilon posted a time of 2:06.40 followed by junior Andrea Niemann with a time of 2:06.53. The final Cowgirl in the event was junior Erin Eccleston who had a time of 2:06.95. Pilon bettered her time over two seconds, 2:04.47, to finish 17th while Niemann and Eccelston finished 19th and 24th with times of 2:06.29 and 2:08.02, respectively.

The top finisher in the 50 freestyle prelims was freshman Kali Franckowiak with her season-best time of 23.62, which was 15th, while junior Kira Crane went 23.67. Fellow junior Sani Carsrud turned in a time of 23.83. Crane moved up two spots in the B Final in a time of 23.66. Franckowiak placed 16th with a finish of 23.88 and Carsrud posted an 18th place time of 23.79.

In the final swimming event of the day, the team of Giles, Pilon, Mclean-Leonard and junior Lainee Jones put together a season-best time of 3:42.81 in the 400 medley relay. It was over four seconds better than the previous number.

In the 1-meter preliminaries, sophomore Melissa Mirafuentes placed second behind Ximena Lechuga Gonzalez of San Diego State by posting a score of 292.10.

She followed that up with a six dive total of 282.95 in the finals to finish second in the event. Junior McKenna Houlihan finished 15th with a mark of 229.30. She placed first in the consolation final with a season-best score of 262.55. Sophomore Makena Sanger turned in a score of 193.65 after six dives followed by senior Abigail Zoromski finishing with a score of 188.20.

“We had a really strong day today,” head diving coach Ted Everett said. “Everybody scored points for the team, which didn’t happen last year. Afternoon finishing ninth a season ago, Melissa took second and is continuing her consistent performances. McKenna (Houlihan) was a star as she finished 15th in the prelims then came back to win in the consolation finals for a ninth place finish overall. The good news is that we had a good day today and have a shot to improve tomorrow.”

The Cowgirls are back in action tomorrow as the prelims will start at 12 p.m. MT and they will be competing in the 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 yard freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle relay. The diving squad will continue tomorrow in the 3-meter which is set to begin at 12 p.m. as well in Colorado Springs.

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