Dec. 12, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - While countless students across the University of New Mexico's main campus are breathing tremendous sighs of relief after wrapping up the fall semester, the Lobo swimming and diving team still has a bit of work to knock out before they go home to enjoy the holidays. The team will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. this Friday to participate in the UNLV Invitational; the field consists of UNLV, UNM, Fresno Pacific, Colorado Mesa and California State- Easy Bay among others.
The meet is a departure from what has been the norm in the past few seasons which has been participation in the Phill Hansel Cougar Classic Invitational hosted by the University of Houston.
"We wanted to try this meet because the Cougar Classic field was going to consist of 18 teams this year," said Kunio Kono. "I wanted to start out with something a little smaller for my first season. We'll participate in the meet then stay another three days to train in Las Vegas; I'm looking forward to it."
The meet is the first for UNM in over a month. The team last competed on November 11 in Reno where it dropped a contest to the Wolf Pack, 160.5-139.5. Both Kono and Abel Sanchez said they are excited for the meet.
"The first half of the season has been tough," Sanchez said. "We've had a lot of injuries, so we're really looking forward to the break and being able to get a little bit of rest before starting training again and getting healthy."
Procedure going into this meet has also been different from past years when the team tapered (reduced workload during a period immediately prior to a major competition) before the Cougar Classic. Coach Kono has not tapered his team, but he believes it's all going to benefit the team in the end.
"We've been training straight through," said Kono. "I can understand if some of the ladies are tired, but for this meet I'm not going to be looking for extraordinarily fast times, I'm more concerned with effort and how hard they swim."
With the second half of the season coming up and the 2013 Mountain West Championships around the corner- they will be held Feb. 20-23 in San Antonio, Texas- Kono is hoping that the team performs well in Las Vegas and that he, along with Sanchez and assistant Crystal Forbes can translate that into continued success and high finishes along the way.
Following the UNLV Invitational, the Lobos have two weeks off before returning to Albuquerque and hosting Grand Canyon on Jan. 12. The meet is the last home event of the season and will also serve as Senior Day for six Lobos.