Solid Day Two at the WAC Championships for Cowboy Swimming and Diving

by staff–26 Feb ’21

Following the second day of the 2021 WAC Championship, the Cowboys moved up a spot to fourth with a solid day of swimming and diving performances. It was featured by senior Mitch Hovis and divers Brendan Byrnes and freshman Juan Gonzalez.

After the second day, Wyoming sits in fourth place with 188.5points. UNLV has a commanding lead with 333 points followed by Air Force with 212 and Grand Canyon with 199.5.

“It was a rollercoaster of a day for the men’s team,” head coach Dave Denniston said. “Mitch (Hovis) is swimming career-bests every time he hits the water. Grant (Sloan) is also having a strong meet and one of the absolute highlights was Danny (Cumnock-Francois) winning the consolations in the 500 free. UNLV may be running away with the title but there is a battle for second and I feel we are in the hunt. Thanks to our divers, we are looking forward to battling to move up in the standings tomorrow.”

In the 200 IM, Hovis posted a career-best time of 1:48.98, to place seventh. Sophomore Andrew Rodriguez, who was seventh in the event last year, was eighth with a season-best time of 1:49.00. Three Cowboys reached the C Final led by freshman Luke Walker posting a 19th place time of 1:52.01 followed by sophomore Thomas Diaz with a mark of 1:52.32. Fellow sophomore Caleb Worshek in a career-best time of 1:53.31.

Hovis continued to be strong in the finals improving on his prelim time to finish sixth, posting a time of 1:48.69. That time moved him into tenth place all-time in school history. Rodriguez went 1:49.88 with an eighth place spot. Diaz improved his time to a career-best 1:51.04 while Walker went 1:51.40 and Worshek posting a time of 1:53.74.

The 500 freestyle would prove to be a strong event on the day. In the prelims, junior Ryan Netzel reached the A Final with a season-best 4:25.48 to finish seventh. Last year, he placed seventh in the event.  Netzel finished eighth in the finals with a time of 4:30.38. Three individuals moved onto the B Final led by sophomore Daniel Cumnock-Francois with an 11th place time of 4:34.68. Junior Miller Browne followed with a season-best time of 4:36.36, which was five seconds off his previous best, while Cameron Murphy touched the wall in 4:39.07. 

Cumnock-Francois cruised to a consolation finals win with a career-best time of 4:31.97. Browne went 4:36.07 and Murphy touched the wall in 4:37.31, which were both career-times as well.

Sloan was the top finisher in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.09 to place sixth. Freshman Max DeYoung had a season-best time of 20.47 which was 13th and moved him to the B Final. In the finals, Sloan placed eighth with a time of 20.38, while DeYoung tied for 15th with a solid time of 20.67. Freshman Jakob Borrman posted a time of 21.05.

On the boards, the Cowboys were solid in the 1-meter competition, which is taking place at the Aquatic Center in Flagstaff. Gonzalez opened up the preliminaries with a second place score of 293.45 to reach his first finals. Byrnes also had a nice performance with a six dive total of 269.45 for a fifth place spot. Senior Elijah Chan recorded a mark of 239.35 to place 12th while sophomore Payton Lee went 234.40. In the consolation final, Lee improved his score by over 20 points to place second with a season-best 267.15. Chan was fifth with a six dive score of 257.75.

In the finals, Byrnes moved up one spot to fourth with a score of 289.15 while Gonzalez finished his first MW 1-meter final in fifth with a solid score of 287.50.

“Tonight was a good experience for us as a team,” head diving coach Ted Everett said. “Brendan dove well and moved up a spot to fourth place. Juan came into the finals seeded second but this was his first conference final and understandably got a little nervous and slipped a spot. I think now that he has this under his belt and should have better performances going forward. Eli and Payton made the consolation final and each moved up a place.”

Day three of the Championship will resume at 12 p.m. MT with the 400 IM followed by the 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and the 400 medley relay. The evening session for the finals are set to start at 7 p.m. The prelims of the 3-meter men’s diving competition is scheduled for 2:40 p.m.

Follow @wyo_swimdive for updates and live stats.