BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The biggest week of the season has arrived for CSU Bakersfield’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. The Roadrunners are headed to Houston, Texas for the 2017 Western Athletic Conference Championships, Feb. 22-25.

Before the ‘Runners left, Director of Swimming Chris Hansen said that he had high hopes for his young, but talented women’s squad: “I’m sure other WAC teams recognize that our women graduated 262.5 points of our 463 points from last year’s WAC Championships. However, they better remember Paola Hernandez, who scored the most points for us at last year’s WAC and is back for her senior year. Paola, Carlee Burks, Dylana Milobar, Summer D'Arcy, Sabrina Zavala, and Felicia Zamora may be the only returning point scorers to journey back to Houston, but we have a lot of young talent that I wouldn’t underestimate."

The ‘Runners have had relay success at past WAC Championships and Hansen hopes his ladies can keep that tradition going in 2017: “We have won the 400 and 800 Free relays every year since joining the conference. Paola is the only returner on those relays, so, we will be relying on freshmen Alisa Cooke, Morgan King, Maddie Cosgrove, and Jayssie Haynes to replace that graduation class. To be honest, I still think we have a shot at winning those relays. Audrey Willoughby and Dylana will also play important parts to our relays' success.”

Hansen went on to comment on the future of the women’s program: “Knowing that we are going into this meet very young and that this is Felicia, Carlee, Paola and Dylana’s last meet, we are excited to see the next generation step up. I like going in under the radar. They did that to us last year and we proved them wrong and we are ready to do it again this year. We are also pumped to see seniors Melissa Gore and Sara Christiansen go out on a high note!”

At last year’s WAC Championships, the CSUB women finished fourth of eight teams and were just 3.5 points out of third place. CSUB’s men were sixth of seven teams at the WAC meet a year ago.

On the men’s side, Hansen said he is expecting his veterans to lead the way: “The men’s field is tough. Lovre Soric, Bryce Timonera, Tyler Greenwald, Brayden Greenwald, and Owen van Krimpen are our returning top scorers, as I expect them to be again this year. I would also watch for Owen’s fellow sophomore class of Jake Chir, Justice Kramer, Greg Lee, and Jaren Hopkins to make vast improvements from last year.”

“Like the women last year,” Hansen said, “I think this year’s men’s team could sneak up on a few teams if they are not careful. Relays will be also be very important for the men, which also means relying on younger swimmers Richie Campbell, Jake, Justice, and Jaren and returners Joe Cobarrubias and Bryant Fascio as well as Lovre and Bryce to all step up. Seniors Nick Vargas, Luka Seles, and Jack Richey-Luna will also play a big part this week.”

The 2017 WAC Championships begin Wednesday, Feb. 22, and wrap up Saturday, Feb. 25. Morning preliminary heats will be followed by evening finals each day. A live stream will be available for the finals each evening. For a full schedule of events from the 2017 WAC Championships, visit the Championship Central page. Live stats will be available throughout the meet and links for those can be found at Championship Central as well.