NM State Swimming and Diving Team On Its Way To No. 1

Written By: Lauren Cordova, For NM State Athletics

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -With the WAC Championship coming up in February, there is a lot of buzz going around that the New Mexico State swimming and diving team has a good chance at capturing its first title. The Aggies excelled in the 2010 season finishing second at the WAC Championships.

In 2008, NM State finished in fifth place with a score of 460.5 points. The Aggies scored in the diving events for the first time in program history with diver Mariesa Cloud setting a school record on the platform. The relay teams also posted three school records. In 2009, the Aggies set a school record with the highest score at the WAC Championship, with the total of 572 points while placing third. There were also 17 school records that were broken.

“I feel that we are going to finish the best that we ever have finished. I think we are going to win,” senior Alannah Lawrence said.

An accomplished swimmer on the team, Lawrence is one of five seniors that are going to be leaving the Aggies after the season along with Kelly Conrad, Theresa Illgen, Cloud and Kelly Runestrand.

“They are some of the best all-time swimmers that we have had. This group means a lot to us,” head coach Rick Pratt said. “They have an incredible leadership role amongst the group.”

Conrad has contributed greatly to the team. In her junior year, she helped take the Aggies to second place at the WAC Championships. Conrad’s sophomore year was also a success in contributing to set more school records. She set a record with her 100 freestyle performance, and was also a participant in breaking NM State relay team records. Her solid performances in the freestyle events helped lead the Aggies to third. Conrad finished third in the 50 freestyle (23.71) at the 2008 WAC Championships as a freshman. Her performance at the WAC meet in the 200 freestyle not only set a school record but set a new personal-best time.

Lawrence’s junior year was a success when she won her first individual WAC title in the 100 breast. She also set another season-best time of 2:11.53 in the 200 individual medley. Her sophomore year she helped the team place third when she received runner-up honors in 100 breast, posting a lifetime-best performance of 1:01.97. Lawrence had a great involvement her freshman year during the 2008 WAC Championships. She placed in three individual events at the meet and also set her season-best performance with a time of (1:04.00) in 100 breast.

Illgen recorded season-best times in 200 IM (2:09.72), 200 breast (2:27.78), and 400 IM (4:33.33) at the 2010 WAC meet. For her second year, she went on to place fifth in the 400 IM and accomplished her all-time best time of 4:28.20. She helped the Aggies in the 2008 championships by placing fifth in the 400 IM (4:32.19).

At the 2010 WAC Championships, Runestrand posted season-best times at the meet when she scored in the 100 breast (1:04.52), 200 breast (2:19.01) and 200 IM (2:07.03). She set four lifetime-best performances in 2009 and assisted the Aggies in placing third at the WAC Championships, while also placing sixth in the 200 breast and seventh in the 100 breast. Runestrand began her conference experience with a lifetime best at the 2008 WAC Championships in the 200 breast (2:19.83) and came in fourth place.

Cloud joined the Aggies as a sophomore. She set a school record by placing third on the platform (210.25) at the 2009 WAC championships. That year she also set records in 1-meter (307.19) and 3-meter (310.05) at Northern Arizona, Dec. 6, 2009.

This group of student-athletes who have made a tremendous impact on the NM State swimming and diving team will make their final appearance at the regular season finale against New Mexico at the NM State Natatorium, Feb 5 at 12 p.m. Admission is free to all in attendance.