SAN ANTONIO, Texas-- The University of North Dakota women's swimming and diving team finished sixth at the Western Athletic Conference Championships held at Palo Alto College. Northern Arizona claimed the top spot, beating out second-place Idaho by more than 100 points.
Morgan Lynch went 17:06.82 to place seventh in the 1650 free event to set a new UND record. Ali Church (17:12.12) took ninth. Kristin Ainsworth was 12th in the 200 backstroke (2:03.99). Steph Frey (52.11) and Kelsey Richels (52.14) went 1-2 in the B-Final of the 100 free to finish ninth and tenth, respectively. Camille Merwin notched sixth place in the 200 breaststroke with her 2:18.06 time.
Erin Grabanski, Cassie Walth, Frey and Richels finished out the meet with a 3:26.69 time in the 400 free relay.
In platform diving, Alexis Eissinger advanced the A-Final and placed eighth with a 172.35 score. Cassidy Tangeman was 13th for UND (175.10).
Erin Grabanski had the top UND finish on Friday, taking fourth in the 100 backstroke (55.89). Kristin Ainsworth was 11th in the event (57.70). The 200 freestyle saw Ali Church advance to the evening's A-Final, where she finished eighth (1:52.64). Morgan Lynch (1:52.20) and Kelsey Richels (1:52.56) were 11th and 12th, respectively. Camille Merwin took eighth in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.35) while Nicole Stevens finished third in the B-Final to pick up 11th place (1:04.26). Kristin Ainsworth was 15th in the 400 IM (4:32.35). Courtney Funk was 15th in the 100 butterfly (57.42).
The women's 400 medley relay team of Grabanski, Merwin, Funk and Richels took sixth to end the day's action, touching in 3:48.46.
Morgan Lynch was sixth in the 500 freestyle race Friday, touching in 4:55.73. Ali Church was second in the B-Final, finishing 10th overall in 4:58.83. Erin Grabanski was sixth in the 200 IM with a 2:03.98 time. Courtney Funk and Allison Tonsager each advanced to the A-Final in the 50 free with Funk taking third (23.62) and Tonsager finishihng eighth (24.15). The 200 freestyle team went 1:33.96, good for fourth, to finish off day two.
In diving, Rachael Waldbillig finished 10th overall (264.60) and teammate Alexis Eissinger with 12th (231.95) from the 3-meter board.
"I am very pleased with our performances tonight," UND head swimming and diving coach Chris Maiello said. "Our women are off to a strong start as they have posted times significantly faster than last year. It’s a good sign for us early in the meet. Morgan Lynch did a great job leading off the 800 free relay with a personal best swim. That put our relay in a terrific position for the next swimmers. The medley relay was strong for us as well. A season best by over six seconds says that our women are ready to compete at a high level. That performance was the best for our program in that event since 2009. I am excited to watch the meet come together for our ladies."
It was the 200 medley relay team of Erin Grabanski, Camille Merwin, Steph Frey and Courtney Funk starting off the meet with a sixth-place finish (1:43.32). The 800 free relay squad (Lynch, Ali Church, Frey, Kelsey Richels) also picked-up sixth with a 7:28.56 time.
"Rachael Waldbillig had a very good start and was solid in both rounds," UND diving coach Brian Strom said. "She moved up in place in the second round. Cassidy Tangeman placed just outside of scoring team points, but it was her best diving of the year. Alexis Eissinger had some tough luck, she was in the top 16 until the final dive. The 3-meter board in next and it's our better event."
Waldbillig finished 11th from the 3-meter board Wednesday with her 241.10 score, moving up two spots from preliminaries. Tangeman was 17th, just under seven points from the finals group while Rachel Thorstenson was 19th (200.80) and Eissinger was 22nd (186.45).
Women - Team Rankings - FINAL
1. Northern Arizona 743
2. Idaho 642
3. New Mexico State 528
4. Bakersfield 442
5. Grand Canyon 438
6. North Dakota 364
7. Northern Colorado 349
8. Seattle 154
Courtney Funk (50 free)
Morgan Lynch (500 free, 1650 free)
Erin Grabanski (200 IM, 100 back)
Allison Tonsager (50 free)
Ali Church (200 free)
Camille Merwin (100 breast, 200 breast)
Alexis Eissinger (platform diving)