Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bronco Swimmers Top Washington State

I'll say it.  The Boise State swimming team has reloaded.

The defending Western Athletic Conference champions lost several stars to graduation, but seem just as strong this season in the early going.  The Broncos went into Pullman and came away a 143-119 winner in the Washington State water. 

Boise State got a 1-2-3 sweep in the 1000-yard freestyle to get started and never looked back.  Who achieved this for Kristin Hill's team?  A sophomore (Jennifer Cahill, with the win) and two freshmen (Rachel Heaney and Brooke Balogh).  Another sophomore, Christine Raininger, won the 400 individual medley.  Where does Hill get these gals?  It really speaks volumes about her ability to come in, start a brand new program from scratch, and recruit top student-athletes to Boise State.  The Broncos have begun to turn heads in the sport, getting votes earlier this year in the national rankings.

Good that Amber Boucher has two more years.  The junior who helped the Broncos win the WAC last year won two individual events and helped win both relays.  Boucher's 100 butterfly time was 54.88 to set a Pullman pool record.  Boucher now has every one of the top 10 times in Boise State history!  Stephanie North also won in the 100 and 200 free races and anchored both relay teams. 

The Broncos took on Idaho this morning in Moscow.  Results are not yet available.

Boise State Falls Short at #11 Alabama

It was a great experience, traveling to SEC country for the first time. But for the well-seasoned Boise State gymnastics team, this wasn't about the experience. They wanted a win. The Broncos fell 1.325 points short.

Boise State fell by less than 1.4 points (196.325 to 195.000) to four-time national champion Alabama last night at the Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa .  Much like the football team in 2009 used the motto “One Point Better” to motivate them for the year ahead, this is the task the Boise State gymnastics team has.  Only they don’t have three months to improve; they must do it in a little more than two months.

That is how long Boise State has to improve its lot in the college gymnastics world.  The Broncos have become a consistent Top 20 team and they have won conference championships more often than not.  One goal has so far eluded them:  to reach the NCAA National Championships.  To do that, Boise State must finish in the top two of the Western Regionals.  That competition is set for April 2nd in Corvallis , Oregon .  Oregon State will host the Regionals for the 13th time and the Beavers will be one of the favorites. 

That Boise State captured the title last night on balance beam gives them not only a point of pride but something to build on.  They took on one of the top gymnastics teams in the nation on their home floor and performed better on this evening on the beam.  Boise State ’s lineup recorded a season-best 48.550 to 48.525 for the Crimson Tide ladies.  Alabama was spectacular on the floor, vault and bars, and that is what it is going to take for the Broncos to realize their dreams.  There can be no weaknesses, no flaws.  It will take near-perfect performances from each member on the squad.

Again, the difference between the two teams was minute, but that is what decides gymnastics duals and ultimately, which teams get to go to nationals.  Can coaches Tina Bird and Neil Resnick find 1.4 more points up and down the lineup?

Amy Glass was sensational for Boise State in winning the individual all-around title.  Glass shattered her career-best with a 39.375, placing second on the beam (9.850) and floor with a 9.875 career best.  Amy was fifth on bars (9.825) and sixth on vault (9.825).  Glass is now #6 all-time at Boise State for career all-around wins. Alabama ’s Sarah DeMeo (39.175) was second in the all-around while teammate Kim Jacob placed third (39.075).

"Amy is such a rock for our team," said Bird. "Her cool demeanor at meets really calms the team and makes us feel like we can do anything."

Redmon(9.875) finished in tie for the bars title with Alabama 's Ashley Sledge and Geralen Stack-Eaton.   Bird continued, "Hannah claimed the bar title tonight and competed like the champion she is."  It was Redmon’s seventh career win on the apparatus, making her #8 all-time at Boise State .  Redmon also paced the Lady Broncos with a season-best 9.850 on vault.  Although vault is a strong event for the team, Alabama came home with the honors on this night.  The Tide women put up a brilliant 49.25 to 48.825 for Boise State .  Freshman Amanda Otuafi (9.775) and sophomore Brittany Potvin-Green (9.750) rang up career-bests to place seventh and eighth respectively. 

Since this is one of the Broncos’ top events, it would seem that part of the 1.4 points could be made up here with more team balance.  To achieve Alabama ’s score of 49.25, the Broncos must average 9.85.  Although Redmon was over that total and Glass was just short, the other scores drop below 9.8.  But with just a little more solid routines,  Otuafi and Potvin-Green can certainly get there.  Freshman Kelsey Black (9.625) produced the Broncos’ final counting score in the event. 

On the uneven bars, Potvin-Green impressed with a 9.825 to join Glass with that score.  Senior Lindsay Kazandjian produced a 9.8 to give the Broncos four gymnasts at 9.8 or better.  Hopefully, friendly competition amongst the four to get the high score in each future meet will make all four of them better.  Katie Tuller had the final score with a 9.7. 

The Broncos have traditionally been superb on floor but were thumped by over 7/10th’s of a point on this night.  Black was the top finisher after Glass with a 9.775.  Kelsey Lang was eighth with a 9.725 and Kazandjian (9.675) took ninth.  Both of those two can do much better, so the Broncos can easily find 3-4/tenths on the floor.

Boise State finished on the beam with Glass leading the team followed by Kazandjian with a 9.75  Lang produced a 9.725 to place seventh with Freshman Alessandra Cinfio bringing home a career-best of 9.675.  Fellow frosh Bekah Gher notched a 9.550 and Molly Dziawura had an even 9.0.

The Crimson Tide's Diandra Milliner won the vault title with a 9.925 score, while Sledge and Stack-Eaton shared the bars title with Boise State 's Redmon. Stack-Eaton won the beam title with a poised performance (9.90), while Kayla Hoffman captured the floor title (9.90).

Boise State gave a great effort in Tuscaloosa that fell just a bit short.  They now know what they need to do to reach nationals.  The Broncos continue their road trip with a meet against #31 Arizona next Friday in Tucson .