Bearcats Set to Host NWC Swimming Championships at King County Aquatic Center

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- Swimmers from throughout the Northwest Conference are converging on the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash., for the 2013 NWC Swimming Championships. Willamette University is hosting the competition, which will begin on Friday, Feb. 8 and continue through Sunday, Feb. 10.

The defending team champions are the women's squad from the University of Puget Sound and the men's team from Whitworth University.

Puget Sound scored 623 points to edge out Whitworth at 606, as the Loggers won the women's title last year for their 13th NWC crown since 1997. Whitworth's men scored 796 points last season to win the NWC title by more than 200 points over Whitman College with 572 points. It was Whitworth's 10th consecutive men's championship.

Team championships are a key focus of the NWC Swimming Championships, but a total of 13 women's individual event titles and 13 men's individual event titles will be won, and winners will be determined in five women's and five men's relay races.

And there's still more excitement in store. Top swimmers in the NWC will be seeking "A" qualifying standards and "B" qualifying standards for the 2013 NCAA Division III Swimming Championships, set for March 20-23 at the Conroe Natatorium in Shenandoah, Texas.

Still more swimmers from each of the 16 teams (8 women's teams, 8 men's teams) will be out to break school records for their respective colleges and universities. Member institutions competing in men's and women's swimming are Lewis & Clark College, Linfield College, Pacific University, Pacific Lutheran University, Puget Sound, Whitman, Whitworth and Willamette.

Everyone will be looking to put together their top swims of the 2012-13 season, with hopes of advancing to the finals.

Action will get underway on Friday at 10 a.m. (PST) with the first morning session. It will feature preliminary heats in the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard individual medley and the 50-yard freestyle.

The evening session on Friday will get underway at 6 p.m. and will include finals in the events from Friday morning, plus the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay.

On Saturday, the morning session start at 10 a.m. and will be filled with prelims in the 400-yard individual medley, the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard backstroke.

Finals in those events will be held during Saturday's evening session along with the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard freestyle relay. The session starts at 6 p.m.

Sunday's morning session will begin at 10 a.m. and will include preliminary heats in the 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard butterfly. The men's and women's 1,650-yard freestyle races will begin at the end of the morning session and conclude at the start of the evening session.

The Sunday evening session, which is slated to start at 5 p.m. (PST) will include the top heats in the 1,650-yard freestyle, plus finals in the other events from Sunday morning. The competition will conclude with the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Team Championships

The battle for the men's team championship should be intense in 2013, with defending champion Whitworth and last year's second place finisher, Whitman, looking very strong.

Whitman swimmers have produced the top times in eight individual events and three relays, while Whitworth holds the top time in one event and has exceptional depth throughout its lineup. Puget Sound could offer a surprise as the Loggers possess the top individual time in four events and two relays. Pacific Lutheran also fields a strong squad.

The women's team championship looks like an exciting race for points between Puget Sound, which won the 2009 and 2012 championships, and Whitworth, which won titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Puget Sound athletes own the top time in six individual events and one relay. Whitworth swimmers are ranked first in six individual events and four relays, and the Pirates have significant depth.

Pacific Lutheran trailed only Whitworth in the dual match standings this season, while Whitman finished third. Pacific also has a strong team.

Women's Individual Championships

The defending champions from all 13 individual women's events will be competing this weekend. Amanda Clark (So.) from Pacific won three events in 2012, as she took first place in the 200-yard freestyle (1:53.76), 500-yard freestyle (5:03.22) and 1,650 yards freestyle (17:16.72).

Three swimmers return after winning two NWC titles last season.

Katie Porter (So.) of Pacific won the 50-yard freestyle (23.73) and 100-yard freestyle (52.06). Kate Duvall (Jr.) from Whitworth prevailed in both backstroke events, winning the 100 in 58.69 seconds and the 200 in 2:03.50. It was her second consecutive win in the 200 back. She holds the NWC all-time record in the 200 back at 2:02.21.

Tracy Wormwood (Sr.) of Puget Sound won for the third consecutive year in both the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.33) and the 200-yard breaststroke (2:18.24).

Tony Castillo (So.) won the 100-yard butterfly for Pacific Lutheran in 57.75 seconds last year, while Allison Clark (Sr.) of Pacific finished first in the 200-yard individual medley. Clark also won the 200 I.M. in 2010.

Abby Pavelko (Sr.) of Whitworth won last year's championship in the 400-yard individual medley in 4:33.05, holding off Allison Clark, who took second in 4:34.80. Pavelko has won three straight titles in the 400 I.M.

Other strong contenders this season include Melissa Norrish (So.) of Puget Sound and Alisa Stang (So.) of Whitworth. Norrish owns the top times in the NWC this season in the 200-yard freestyle (1:55.25), 100-yard butterfly (57.13) and 200-yard butterfly (2:08.32). Stang tops the conference in the 50-yard freestyle (24.30) and the 100-yard freestyle (52.81).

Last year, Stang placed second in the 50 free and the 100 free. She also swam on three winning relay teams for Whitworth (200 free, 800 free, 200 medley).

Swimmers to Watch

Lewis & Clark:
Monica Castro (So.), Rachael Cazden (Sr.), Katy Yeh (Jr.)
Kelcie Kimura (So.), Katie Maine (Sr.), Nikki Overton (Fr.), Megan Sandall (Sr.)
Allison Clark (Sr.), Amanda Clark (So.), Katie Porter (So.)
Pacific Lutheran:
Kina Ackerman (Jr.), Hannah Armstrong (Fr.), Toni Castillo (So.), Nicole Schalk (Fr.)
Puget Sound:
Melissa Norrish (So.), Tracy Wormwood (Sr.)
Genay Pilarowski (Sr.), Melanie Notari (Jr.)
Kate Duvall (Jr.), Bridget Louis (Fr.), Abby Pavelko (Sr.), Alisa Stang (So.)
Annette Marinello (Fr.), Erin Parkinson (Jr.), Malia Santos (Fr.), Hope Nelson (So.)

Men's Individual Championships

There are eight individual men's events that will include the defending champion. Galen Sollom-Brotherton (Jr.) of Whitman was a triple champion last season, when he won the 500-yard freestyle (4:30.02), 1,650-yard freestyle (15:35.53) and 400-yard individual medley (3:59.24). His times set NWC records in the 500 free and the 1,650 fee.

Karl Mering (So.), also from Whitman, won two events in 2012. He took first place in the 100-yard freestyle in 46.18 seconds and was victorious in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 49.83 seconds. Mering is the NWC record holder in the 200-yard butterfly at 1:48.95.

Returning swimmers who won one event apiece last season are Chase Mesford (Sr.) of Pacific Lutheran, as well as Derek Frenzel (Jr.) and Teale Kitson (Jr.) from Puget Sound. Mesford took first place in the 50-yard freestyle (21.31). Frenzel won the 200-yard butterfly (1:50.08). Kitson finished first in the 100-yard backstroke (51.59).

It was the second consecutive NWC championship for Frenzel in the 200 fly, and it was the second title in a row for Kitson in the 100 back.

A new champion will be crowned in the 200-yard breaststroke for the first time since former Whitworth swimmer Rory Buck began his string of four consecutive title in the event in 2009. Buck, who concluded his career last season, also won back-to-back 100-yard breaststroke titles in 2011 and 2012.

The returning champions from a year ago have recorded the top time in the NWC this season in 10 events. Mering leads the way with five top times -- in the 50-yard freestyle (21.06), 100-yard freestyle (47.17), 200-yard freestyle (1:41.55), 100-yard butterfly (49.11) and 200-yard butterfly (1:50.39). He can compete in three of the events this weekend.

Frenzel holds the top time in the distance events this year. He has registered a time of 4:34.58 in the 500-yard freestyle, while also earning a time of 16:15.20 in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

Kitson has achieved the best time in the NWC during the season in the 100-yard backstroke (52.50) and the 200-yard backstroke (1:55.13), while Sollom-Brotherton owns the fastest time in the 400-yard individual medley at 1:58.47.

Paul Chang (Sr.) from Whitman and Andrew Sumnicht (Jr.) of Whitworth also have producing conference-leading times in 2012-13.

Chang holds the top time in the 100-yard breaststroke at 58.33 seconds and in the 200-yard breaststroke at 2:10.61. He placed second in both events at the 2012 NWC Championships. Sumnicht has supplied the best time in the 200-yard individual medley at 1:58.47. He placed third in the 200 I.M. last season.

Swimmers to Watch

Lewis & Clark:
Evan Damon (Sr.), Tyler Moody (Fr.), Trevor Shapiro (So.),
Ian Coker (So.), Miles Phillips (Sr.), Lee Rivers (Jr.)
Dylan Cramer (Sr.), Michael Hargitt (Jr.), Kramer Ichimura (So.)
Pacific Lutheran:
Jacob Deines (Sr.), Justin Murrell (Fr.), Chase Mesford (Sr.), Brian Ruggles (Fr.)
Puget Sound:
Derek Frenzel (Jr.), Aleksander Jeremikj (Sr.), Teale Kitson (Jr.)
Paul Chang (Sr.), Karl Mering (So.), Galen Sollom-Brotherton (Jr.)
Andrew Sumnicht (Jr.), Wes Tatum (So.), Aaron Vaccaro (Jr.)
Alex Guffey (Fr.), Andrew Lum (Fr.), Zander Le Bel (So.), Kulan Tarnas (Fr.)


Northwest Conference
Swimming Championships
Hosted by Willamette University
At King County Aquatic Center
Federal Way, Wash.
February 8-10, 2013

Freshman Alex Guffey is one of Willamette's top swimmers. He is seeded eighth in the 200-yard freestyle.

Freshman Alex Guffey is one of Willamette's top swimmers. He is seeded eighth in the 200-yard freestyle.