It was a homecoming of sorts as the Fresno State swimming and diving team returned to the Aquatics Center on Saturday for the first time since October to take on the UC Davis Aggies.
Before the meet, the Bulldogs honored seniors Jen Hicks, Rayanne Nguyen, Sarah Pino, Britney Vogel, Dani Yoho and Stacey Luke.
Despite the excitement surrounding Senior Day, the Bulldogs fell to the Aggies 195-105. It was not all bad news on Saturday, though, with successful individual performances from several of the Bulldogs’ best. Head coach Jeanne Fleck was happy with what she saw.
“I was really pleased,” Fleck said. “Some of them even surpassed what I thought they were going to do, so that made me a lot happier. Dani Yoho had a great meet. Rayanne, one of my seniors, had a great meet. She hasn’t swum that fast since November, so we’re really pleased. It was fun. It was a good solid team effort today.”
Yoho won the 50 freestyle with a time of 23:15, a new record at the Aquatics Center. The win also kept her undefeated in the race for dual meets this season.
“I feel pretty good,” Yoho said. “I’m really excited about my time in the 50 free. That was a pretty good time to go for right now, so I’m just really excited about how the end of the season is going to go based off the times.”
The Bulldogs took the top two spots in both diving events. Luke delivered a strong performance with a score of 295.70 on the 1-meter dive, a score that not only gave her the win, but set a new Fresno State record as well. Her score of 290.05 on the 3-meter dive gave her second place and a new personal best.
First place on the 3-meter went to Bulldog junior Hannah Prigge, who set a new school record with her score of 324.60. Prigge also took second in the 1-meter dive with a score of 292.
Sophomore Alex Madsen also had a strong performance, winning the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Nguyen also delivered her season-best times in both the 100 and 200 butterfly.
Fleck was glad to see improvement following last weekend’s performance in the Beach Cup in Los Angeles.
“Last weekend was a really rough weekend,” Fleck said. “I was just much happier they raced so much better today. We made it really competitive in every event, so that made me a lot happier.”
Saturday was the final time the senior Bulldogs would compete at home this season, a bittersweet moment for Yoho.
“It’s sad, but at the same time it’s really exciting,” Yoho said. “I was pretty happy with my performance today, so I think I went out with a little bit of a bang. That’s always good. I’m pretty happy and sad at the same time.”
Fleck said she will miss the seniors who made up her first recruiting class, but is proud that they are all able to graduate on time.
“I think that these girls have really built our program,” Fleck said. “These girls took a chance on my program. They all signed early, so we hadn’t even had a meet yet when they signed to come be Bulldogs and we had just started the team. They have done such a great job with the fundamentals and setting the foundation for this program. I couldn’t be happier.”
Fresno State now begins preparing for its final dual meet at San Jose State next week and the Mountain West Championships in San Antonio from Feb. 20-23.
“It’s going to be a rough meet,” Fleck said. “The Mountain West is really competitive. We’ve got a lot of great teams. I think we’ve got a lot of great individuals. I don’t know if our depth is quite there yet, but with individual swims, we have Alex Madsen and Dani Yoho and then Lucy [Titchin] and Courtney Sheehan. If those guys step up and really get it done, then we’re going to do ok.”