One-tenth of a second. That's what came between Nevada and its second Mountain West swimming and diving title Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Trailing rival UNLV by a single point headed into the final event of the meet, the 400 free relay, the Wolf Pack quartet of Josien Wijkhuijs, Colette Berkenfield, Emma Brady and Caitlyn McHugh took it down to the wire but was out-touched by the Rebels' winning time of 3 minutes, 21.09 seconds. Nevada posted a time of 3:21.19. A win in that event would have given the Wolf Pack the title by seven points. Instead, it came in second, nine points behind UNLV, which scored 1,349 points to Nevada's 1,340.
It was the third straight runner-up finish by Nevada at the MW championships and put the Wolf Pack on the podium (top three) for the eighth straight season. San Diego State, the MW's reigning champs, finished third with 1,309 points. The Aztecs entered the final event with a chance to win the title and placed third in the 400 free relay after swimming a 3:21.20 in the 400 free relay, just one-hundredth of a second behind Nevada, in one of the top races in MW swimming history.
Nevada entered the championship after only one regular-season event because of the COVID-19 pandemic shortening the season. That regular-season meet was a 196-103 home loss to UNLV on Jan. 23. But the Wolf Pack showed great gains in the month since then.
Wolf Pack swimmers and divers collected 19 medals (six gold, five silver, eight bronze) over the meet's 21 events. Junior Julia Adamczyk was the Wolf Pack's most decorated performer of the meet, taking home a team-high three gold medals (200 Fly, 200 IM, 400 MR) and two bronze (400 IM, 200 MR).
The Wolf Pack captured two individual gold medals on championship night, the second of which, Donna dePolo's winning effort in the 200 breaststroke, put Nevada in the overall lead with two races to go. dePolo's winning time of 2:10.92 headlined a 1-3-7 run for the Wolf Pack in the event as Wiktoria Samula took bronze in 2:12.18 and Gianni Pitto finished seventh.
After that event, Nevada had 1,237 points to San Diego State's 1,204 and UNLV's 1,189. But the Rebels scored 111 points to Nevada's 47 in the next event, the 200 butterfly, despite the Wolf Pack's Adamczyk winning that event. UNLV took the small lead into the final event before out-touching the Wolf Pack for the championship.
1. UNLV, 1,349 points
2. Nevada, 1,340
3. San Diego State, 1,309
4. Wyoming, 965
5. Colorado State, 925
6. Fresno State, 829
7. Air Force, 726
8. San Jose State, 345