The swim and dive team finished out the season on a high note.
Idaho hosted its final meet of the year at the University of Idaho Swim Center against the College of Idaho Saturday.
The Vandals set 17 different season bests and 11 of those turned out to be career highs. The team rode those strong performances to a 110-50 victory over the Coyotes to secure their fourth straight win in preparation for the WAC Championships.
Senior Cara Jernigan led the Vandals in the 100-yard breaststroke with a 1:04.87. She also led Idaho’s mixed 200-yard freestyle relay and helped the Vandals win the 200-yard medley relay.
Junior Leah Fisk finished right behind Jernigan with a 1:05.10 in her first ever race in the 100-yard breaststroke. She also won the 200-yard individual medley relay.
Fellow junior Sarah Hall made an attempt at the school record in the 1,000-yard freestyle and raced against College of Idaho senior Jessica Sparks. Sparks was swimming in the 1,650-yard freestyle for what could have been the last time, as she was trying to qualify for the NAIA National Championships.
Hall fell a couple seconds short of setting the school record with a 10:22.19, but she kept swimming the next 500 yards to push Sparks. With one lap to go, Hall let Sparks have the pool to herself and she finished with a 19:02.05. That time was nearly three seconds better than the 19:04.99 she needed to qualify.
“That’s what sports are all about,” Idaho Head Coach Mark Sowa said. “We talk about that constantly here. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the journey. To watch (Sparks’) journey come to this pinnacle here, that’s why we do this. We’re so proud to embrace competition for pure competition’s sake.”
College of Idaho Head Coach Jim Everett was rightfully emotional after Sparks’ win. “To see every Vandal standing up on the side, their girl pacing her and our team standing up, I’m elated. A lot of Division I programs don’t even want to swim NAIA schools, so we appreciate getting to come up here. Having everybody pull her along to get to go to nationals is great,” Everett said.
Idaho finishes the regular season at 6-5 for their fifth winning season in a row. Their next meet will be the WAC Championships in Houston on Feb. 21-24.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker